Nicholas Canyon Stream Restoration
Wishtoyo Foundation has two adjacent projects at Nicholas Canyon County Beach Park, at the northwestern corner of Los Angeles County in Malibu. Both are co-sponsored by the L.A. Dept. of Beaches & Harbors, which granted Wishtoyo Foundation a permit for the site.
Eight Chumash prehistoric archeological sites were recorded within a half-mile of Nicholas Canyon Creek and artifacts have been observed throughout the area. Prehistoric artifacts indicate that occupation of the area occurred as early as 4000-6000 BC. (Chester King, Archaeological Reconnaissance and Recommendations for Preservations of Archaeological Remains at Nicholas Canyon County Beach, April 8, 2001.)
Nicholas Canyon Stream Restoration:
In addition to the Chumash Demonstration Village Project, Wishtoyo Foundation / Ventura Coastkeeper has completed a massive Stream Habitat Restoration project at Nicholas Canyon Creek, adjacent to the Village site. The restoration project has mobilized youth organizations and community volunteers to participate in removal of invasive, non-native species, which had aggressively taken over the Creek, concrete pilings, debris and massive weed coverage involving intensive labor to dig out and clear acres of growth that was several layers thick. The invasive plants caused erosion, smothered native species and prevented the year-round flow of the stream, threatening the health and biodiversity of this sensitive riparian habitat.
The project restored a 200-yard section of the creek west of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Large areas of ceplant, arundo, myporum and other exotic species, were removed and continue to be monitored to prevent their return. These plants may be aesthetically pleasing to some, but as restoration science has discovered, these species most often decrease ecosystem value and function. They deprive other plants of moisture and nutrients, and their value to wildlife is low. The California Exotic Pest Plant Council has included iceplant and arundo on their list of the Most Invasive Wildland Pest Plants. Wishtoyo Foundation's project has enhanced the riparian function of the area by removing non-native plants and replacing them with those native to Southern California stream systems.
The project re-introduced rare plant species already at the site such as Alkali Heath, Juncus and Atriplex. Seeds were collected at the site, propagated by Growing Solutions Restoration Insititute at their nursery and returned to the site in one gallon containers for planting. In all, over 1400 plants were grown from seeds collected. Although these species are not endangered or threatened, they are rare, and a significant indicator of remnant wetlands. Also, there is a healthy assemblage of sycamore woodland, which will readily enhance once myoporum is eradicated. (Click for Stream Restoration Project Update.)
The restoration incorporated the hands-on work and tours of the creek into the adjacent Chumash Village program, adding a unique educational component to the work. Water and plants play a central role in Chumash culture, and teachings about creek and riparian ecosystems are incorporated into Wishtoyo's program at our adjacent Chumash Village.
Youth volunteer groups from the Oxnard City Corps, National Parks Service and Mountains Recreation Conservation District - SAMO Youth Eco workers have been involved in all aspects of the restoration work. Several schools, including Turning Point Elementary School in Santa Monica, the Channel Islands University satellite school and UCLA Elementary Prep have involved their students in educational projects at the creek restoration. Wishtoyo has a long-term relationship with these schools, having conducted numerous environmental education programs for classes at the site as well as Chumash cultural presentations at their schools. The project has restored the natural and historical scenic beauty of the creek.
Southern California Wetlands Recovery Projects Small Grants Program awarded Wishtoyo Foundation restoration grants for three consecutive years while we were going through the planning and permitting stages. This got our project off the ground and we are grateful. Wishtoyo also received support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/NOAA Five Star Grant program; the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project; California Coastal Conservancy Wetlands Recovery Project small grants program (four grants awarded) and other private foundations.