Middle Stewart Creek Canyon Restoration Project

The City applied for and received a grant in March 2020 from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to remove invasive eucalyptus and Mexican fan palms trees, which are considered a fire hazard. Additionally, the invasive trees impact the stream ecology by consuming much higher levels of water than native vegetation. The location area is City property behind City Hall and private property approximately 2,000 feet, ending just off S. Ventura Street.

The map below shows the project location as “Mid Stewart Canyon Creek” in orange.

A primary goal of this CDFW program is reestablishing a functioning riparian ecosystem that supports a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plant species. This program has grant opportunities that provide for the removal of the extensive number of invasive trees, primarily Mexican fan palms and Eucalyptus trees, that have invaded the stream on the City’s property and immediately downstream, including restoration and maintenance of the area with native vegetation.

The number of trees on the City’s section is approximately half of the trees, with an estimated cost of over $500,000 to remove and restore the area. Combining the creek section south of the City’s section together as one makes a project with a reasonable chance of success, versus only submitting the City’s section as a grant submittal would have very limited chance of being awarded as there would be a high likelihood of the invasive trees moving rapidly up the wet stream area and reverse the project progress. CDFW has funded similar projects downstream of this project area, increasing the likelihood of this project being awarded funding.

The project scope includes:

  • Remove non-native tree and understory vegetation. Removal would occur in phases by canopy and orientation to the creek to not lose all shade for the creek at once. For example, remove Mexican fan palm and small eucalyptus trees closest to the riparian corridor in the first phase, with removal of exotic understory plants such as periwinkle and German ivy. Then plant trees and large shrubs based on the restoration design plan for the riparian corridor. In phase two, remove larger trees away from the corridor, remediating the adjacent plant communities to the creek.
  • Restore function of low flow channel by removing tree liter, rubble and debris damned up from invasive plants.
  • Developing a functioning riparian ecosystem that supports a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plant species.
  • Provide ongoing stewardship of Stewart Canyon Creek. Develop outreach and networking that will help to continue project funding from a variety of community-based sources.
  • In cooperation with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy a local volunteer effort including over 100 volunteers with three planting days and field.
  • Adjacent homeowner education program on runoff management, native landscaping practices, and other practices that will support the immediate and long-term health of this local riparian habitat.
  • Native American and Archeological monitoring of any excavation activity.
  • Annual and final reporting as required by the grant.

The following schedule is anticipated:

  • Winter 2019, spring 2020: Application process, project planning.
  • July 2020: finalize CDFW grant agreement.
  • Fall 2020: Secure agreements with biology/environmental consultants and invasive tree/vegetation removal contractors.
  • Winter 2020 thru Spring 2022:Primary restoration effort – invasive tree/vegetation removal and native tree/vegetation palette plantings with biological, arborist, Native American monitoring.  This effort is primarily outside of potential bird nesting season, October thru February each winter.
  • Spring 2021: Begin planting of native trees and herbaceous plants and shrubs, including community planting days.  Community education including planting days with Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), and workshops by Once Upon a Wetlands (OUW) on practices that support healthy riparian habitat and water flow.
  • Summer 2021: Begin regular watering schedule, as well as weeding, on a weekly to monthly basis depending on the time of year and rainfall.
  • Summer 2022: Spring 2024: Continue regular watering as well as weeding and re-sprouting prevention, on a weekly to monthly basis depending on the time of season, heat and rainfall.
  • March 2024: CDFW reimbursable work ends.  Community volunteers begin providing ongoing annual invasive weed and tree control.

For further information, see the following links below:

If you have any questions, please email Andrea Mackey at amackey@ojaicity.org