2012-01-24 "Habitat Restoration and Enhancement at Copeland Creek" by Gary Miltimore, Natural Resources & Sonoma Outreach Director
Conservation Corps North Bay (CCNB) is restoring the segment of Copeland Creek from Commerce Blvd to upstream of Snyder Lane in Rohnert Park. The work is being done in partnership with the Sonoma County Water Agency through grant funding from the California Natural Resources Agency,
This project will remove 10 acres of overgrown exotic vegetation such as Acacia, Himalayan Blackberry and Privet and replant the area with native riparian grasses, bushes and trees. This will enhance critical habitat, offset vehicle emissions, and provide additional wetland mitigation.
Copeland Creek parallels a multi-use trail frequented by students from over 15 education facilities including Rancho Cotate, Phoenix and El Camino High School, Technology High School, Sonoma State and local citizens.
“Walkers, runners and bicyclists feel safer now that we have opened up the line of sight down to the creek and have commented on the enhanced aesthetic value which has created a more ‘park-like’ setting,” Crew Supervisor Emily Byrnes observed. “The corpsmembers are able to hear on a daily basis the public’s appreciative comments and are able to reflect on the positive impact they are making in the community.”
This portion of Copeland Creek is owned by the City of Rohnert Park. The Sonoma County Water Agency has an easement to maintain the channel for flood control in accordance with federal and state permits issued for its Stream Maintenance Program. According to Water Agency Director Shirlee Zane, “this project helps to achieve the Water Agency’s goals of improving and maintaining flood protection while at the same time helping to establish a native riparian canopy. This canopy will help to shade the channel which will improve water quality in the creek which supports steelhead. Other benefits of the project are increased public safety as a result of improved visibility and sightlines.”
Since September of last year, CCNB has treated 23 acres of riparian habitat and removed 800 yards of chipped invasive plant vegetation. This multi-year, multi-phase project is expected to continue to spring of 2014 with maintenance and monitoring.
Conservation Corps North Bay is making a difference in the youth that participate in their comprehensive job training and education programs. In addition to earning above minimum wage paid job training, corpsmembers are enrolled in the John Muir Charter School housed at the CCNB facility in Cotati. They spend 32 hours a week building their job skills and employability through conservation and community based projects while they focus an additional 10 hours on attaining a GED or High School Diploma. In addition the Corpsmembers receive individualized supportive services through a career counselor onsite. Included in the services are job search, resume building, interview skills, and applying to continuing educational opportunities. CCNB assists them with the transition into the job community and local opportunities in Sonoma County.
Jake is our newest graduate of the CCNB program and is in the last stages of transitioning from the program with Corps-to-Career support. He has worked for CCNB since July of 2010 and developed many job development skills on both the Recycling Crew and the Natural Resources Crew. Working as a team, the onsite Recycling Crew collects CCNB bins filled with recyclables. Jake works on this team to perform the delivery and collection, processes the recyclables and operates the baler. While on the Natural Resources Crew, he assisted on habitat restoration projects that reconstructed trails, planted natives and constructed willow walls to prevent erosion. He has earned the Wood Chipper Certification as part of his job training. Educationally he has passed the GED and went on to earn his High School Diploma. As a part of the Education Awards Program (EAP), he has earned thousands of dollars to continue his education at the Santa Rosa Junior College.