Friday, May 11, 2012

depaving and daylighting (Berkeley)

Founded in 1992, Ecocity Builders is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reshaping cities for the long-term health of human and natural systems.

I really like a couple of their on the ground projects where they daylit a stream and "depaved" a parking lot. From their website:

Codornices Creek Daylighting at University Village
Berkeley/Albany Urban Creek Revival

Grassroots Urban Creek Revival: Cordornices Creek daylighting and restoration project began in 1995. In the first year 375 volunteers contributed to opening the creek and landscaping the restored meander of the water — an important factor in regulating speed and controlling floods — and the area saw a gradual increase in the population of species like crayfish, damselflies, garter snakes, mallards, and egrets.

This section of the city was once a little used parking lot, a street that had been closed, a sidewalk, and a flat earth-filled area covered with fennel. The daylighting project was a satisfying collaboration with Urban Creeks Council, who applied for and got $25,000 from the Department of Water Resources Board and hired a semi-volunteer bulldozer operator, who happily volunteered to work for half pay – said he’d never had the chance to “make a creek” before.

Volunteers took cuttings from willow trees, cut them into stakes about an inch thick (none thicker), sliced the trunk side of the branch at a sharp angle and the end toward the leaves square, and drove them with a hammer into the banks of the creek. Now we have forty foot high willows and alders. Watercress, cattails, horestails and bulrushes showed up on their own. Along the banks, nasturtiums, wild grapes, mint, chicory and plantain, California glory, ceanothis, native grasses, lupine, red and blue flax, clarcia and the ever present California poppy.

Codornices Creek daylighting is a paradise to all sorts of critters: butterflies, dozens of birds, steelhead trout, sticklebacks, crawdads, water snails, frogs, garter snakes, water striders and lots of insects including sulfer-blue damselfies and vermillion dragonflies as brilliantly colored as tiny red flying neon lights.

The planting philosophy was to plant natives along with an orchard. Within a few months volunteers had donated fruit trees of all sorts: apples, plums, apricots, figs, oranges, lemons, nectarines, peaches, cherries, persimmons, and Asian pears.

Image from Ecocity Builders

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