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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SD River Conservancy Improving Sycamore Creek

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A worker removes arundo

A waterway clogged with the wrong type of non-native vegetation is a recipe for flooding, elevated risk for wildfire and diminished habitat value for wildlife.

That’s why the San Diego River Conservancy is spending $208,000 over the next few months to remove invasive plants from Sycamore Creek in the city of Santee.

The project, which started this week, requires heavy labor to remove the unwanted vegetation from several hundred feet of the creek bordering the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve.

“One of the main reasons we’re doing it is for flood alleviation,” said Conservancy Executive Officer Kevin McKernan.

Flooding triggered by record rainfall in the winter of 2010-11 overwhelmed a sewage station next to the creek, resulting in a spill of contaminated water into the San Diego River, he noted.

This April, a wildfire that began in the riverbed at Mast Park West was fueled in part by dense stands of non-native plants, including a bamboo-like plant called arundo donax, also known as giant reed.

This week, a small army of workers has been using chain saws and hand tools to remove the unwanted vegetation, including arundo, castor bean plants, pepper trees, and more than 90 mature non-native palm trees.
Oceanside-based ACS Habitat is doing the work

“We’ve notified homeowners whose back yards border Sycamore Creek of our activities, and so far we’ve had positive responses from many,” McKernan reported.

A second phase of the project to clear a portion of the creek north of Mast Boulevard is planned for the future.

The project calls for follow-up abatement actions over the next two to three years involving cutting and spraying the previously cut sites to ensure the invasive plants don’t return.

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