DWR-Funded Restoration Project in Oakland Improves Water Quality, Fish Habitat


Crews working on Upper Sausal Creek Restoration Project.

Crews working on Upper Sausal Creek Restoration Project. /Photo provided by Friends of Sausal Creek

Local agencies, State government representatives, and community members came together May 11 to celebrate the completion of the Upper Sausal Creek Erosion Control Restoration Project, a collaborative effort that provides improvements to the community of Oakland and local fish habitats.

The multi-benefit project was funded by DWR’s Urban Streams Restoration Program, which provides financial assistance to projects that help restore streams, creeks, and rivers to enhance the environment for fish and wildlife, as well as promote community stewardship.

In 2008, DWR awarded $540,000 in Proposition 84 grant funding to the Friends of Sausal Creek (FOSC), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and stewardship of the Sausal Creek Watershed, and co-sponsor City of Oakland. An additional $58,000 was provided by Measure DD, the Oakland Trust for Clean Water and Safe Parks Bond.

 “I have enjoyed working with the staff of the FOSC and the City of Oakland to restore Sausal Creek and promote community stewardship,” said Kevin Marr, Environmental Scientist with DWR’s Urban Streams Restoration Program “The partnership between the City and the community serves as a model for implementing restoration projects.”

Sausal Creek begins in the Oakland Hills and crosses the entire city before contributing to the Oakland Estuary. The creek supports redwood and oak forests, and a remarkable diversity of resident and migratory birds. The project repaired three actively-eroding gullies created by stormwater runoff from surrounding roadways that were destabilizing canyon and channel slopes and impacting hiking trails. The erosion was contributing large amounts of sediment to the creek and impacting water quality and the habitat of the native rainbow trout and other aquatic life.


“Against all odds, the native rainbow trout persist in Sausal Creek,” said Tim Vendlinski, FOSC board member and life scientist. “These fish are our legacy and responsibility, and we’re grateful for the partnership we have with the State, the City, and D-Line toward preventing landslides and securing clean water.”


 Using natural and engineering techniques, D-Line Constructors Inc. reconstructed creek banks, stabilized slopes and gullies, and replaced invasive plants with 3,000 locally-adapted native plants and trees – resulting in a healthier watershed and improved habitat for rainbow trout and macro-invertebrates. The native plantings help preserve genetic diversity of the region because they were propagated through FOSC’s nearby nursery.


Construction was completed a month ahead of schedule and restoration commenced at the beginning of the 2018-2019 rainy season by local community volunteers coordinated through FOSC.

Learn more about ongoing restoration efforts and available grant funding opportunities.