Creek Corridor

Signpost #1: Hanns Park
Signpost #2: Weir/Cattails and Tules
Signpost #3: Vallejo Watershed Alliance Native Plant Meadow
Signpost #4: Burn Area and Creek Bank Restoration
Signpost #5:  Arbor Tree and Habitat Restoration
Signpost #6:  Oak Restoration Site and Bridge
Signpost #7:  Creek Bank and Upland Restoration
Signpost #8:  Large Restoration Site Behind Wardlaw Elementary
Signpost #9:  Bridge behind Wardlaw Dog and Skate Park
Signpost #10:  Ascot Storm Drain
Signpost #11:  High School Creek Biomonitoring

In a special project partnership between the Vallejo Watershed Alliance and Leadership Vallejo Year 10, sign posts were installed in July 2017 throughout the corridor. The QR codes connect to the Alliance website, where you can read about significant areas of restoration or natural history.

You can join the Vallejo Watershed Alliance by texting the word WATERSHED to 42828, or emailing Info@VallejoWatershedAlliance.org with your request. You will receive monthly notices of volunteer activities, and your email will not be shared or sold.

Signpost #1:

Hanns Park

Welcome to Hanns Park and the Blue Rock Springs Creek Corridor. Hanns Park is generally referred to as this picnic area and eucalyptus grove; the corridor continues about a mile and a half up the creek. The top of the trail ends the fence that forms the boundary of the golf course.

Blue Rock Springs Creek is one of the few perennial creeks in Vallejo, which means that it flows year-round. Historically it was wider, and older residents recall enjoying a swimming hole in the park area. More animals populated the area back then: elk, grizzly bears and wolves were here along with many of the animals you can still see, such as deer, foxes, jack rabbits and raccoons.

The first people to live along this creek arrived between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, and formed part of the Patwin tribes.

The park is named for Joseph Hanns and his wife Anne, who arrived in the 1870s and grew wheat from this area over to what is now Tennessee and Tuolumne streets. Their ranch house still stands on Admiral Callaghan Lane near the post office.

These eucalyptus trees were planted by the Hanns in the early 1900s. At the time, eucalyptus were believed to be a useful hardwood and they were planted throughout California. Unfortunately, this not true. Although they grow quickly, the wood is brittle and unsuitable for house or boat building and burns hot and fast. Eucalyptus groves need to be thinned regularly for fire protection. Eucalyptus oil and leaves are fairly acidic, which deters growth of other plant species in this area. Compared to native species such as coast live oaks, they support far fewer species of insects, birds, and other wildlife. If you walk upstream beyond the eucalyptus, you’ll see a remarkable increase in plant diversity.

In 2005, a group of local residents and public agencies (including Vallejo Flood & Wastewater District and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District) partnered to create the Vallejo Watershed Alliance. This is a community-based volunteer group that regularly hosts habitat restoration projects and creek cleanups in this corridor and along other waterways in Vallejo. As you walk up the corridor, sign posts will describe some of their restoration work and other points of interest. You can join the Vallejo Watershed Alliance by texting the word WATERSHED to 42828, or emailing Info@VallejoWatershedAlliance.org with your request. You will receive monthly notices of volunteer activities, and your email will not be shared or sold.

Signpost #2:

Weir/Cattails and Tules

As you stand near this bridge, you’ll notice that on one side are native willow trees, and on the other is a dense patch of tule and cattail reeds. The willows provide nectar and habit for hummingbirds and were a favorite tree of early Californians. The reeds were important as well: Native Americans used the cattail fluff to provide padding for bedding, diapers, and cradle boards. The heart of the lower stalk and the pollen were eaten. Leaves were used for weaving mats that were used to construct roofs, walls, and floors of living areas. If you stand here quietly, you’ll hear and see the redwing blackbirds that live in the reeds.

If you look up the hillside on the other side of the path, you’ll see the first set of bird boxes built and installed by Vallejo Watershed Alliance volunteers. These are set throughout the whole corridor, so as you walk up, keep an eye out for who might be using the box!

Signpost #3:

Vallejo Watershed Alliance Native Plant Meadow

The Vallejo Watershed Alliance started their work here in this meadow in 2005. Early workdays focused on removing some of the fennel you can still see on the hillsides, de-weeding as much as possible, and replanting with native grasses, shrubs, and trees. Over the years, students, scout troops, families and third-graders from the Solano Resource Conservations District’s Watershed Explorers program have helped the Vallejo Watershed Alliance with weeding and planting.

Signpost #4:

Burn Area and Creek Bank Restoration

This stop has two points of interest:

  • On the hill above the path, a grass fire burned (on the right side as you face upstream). Vallejo Watershed Alliance and the Solano Resource Conservation District took the opportunity to replant the burned area with coast live oak, buckeye trees and creeping wild rye (a native grass).
  • Below the bridge is a creek bank that was an early partnership between the Alliance and Point Blue’s STRAW Program, which sustains a network of teachers, students, restoration specialists and community members to plan and implement watershed restoration. This project brought first and fourth grade students from Vallejo’s Lincoln Elementary School to plant willows, cottonwood trees, California toyon, and sedges (native grasses that like wet conditions).

Signpost #5:

Arbor Tree and Habitat Restoration

The Coast Live Oak that you see on the hillside was planted with the help of Cal Maritime cadets in partnership with the Vallejo Watershed Alliance in honor of Arbor Day. It’s hard to see from the path, but if you hike up the hillside a bit you’ll see a habitat restoration site planted with oak trees and native shrubs. These plantings are intended to increase habitat, improve soil stability and water conservation, and attract beneficial insects.

Signpost #6:

Oak Restoration Site and Bridge

Looking to the right above the creek is a large oak woodland restoration site. This was planted by Vallejo Watershed Alliance and Solano Resource Conservation District volunteers.

Standing on the bridge and looking back down the path, you’ll notice plant species from all over the world: the weeping willow originated in China, eucalyptus from Australia, and in the creek on the upstream side you’ll see a large patch of Himalayan blackberry.

Signpost #7:

Creek Bank and Upland Restoration

From 2013 to 2016, under the auspices of a Coastal Conservancy grant, the Solano Resource Conservation District spearheaded habitat restoration on several acres and locations throughout the corridor. This one is a great example of streamside restoration: willows and cottonwoods are planted at the creek banks, with other native trees and shrubs planted farther up the hillside. The native tree roots provide shelter for young fish. Shade keeps the creek temperatures cool.

Now that the planting project is complete, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District and the Vallejo Watershed Alliance are focused on removing non-native invasive plants such as artichoke thistle, pampas grass and dandelions to help the natives survive.

Signpost #8:

Large Restoration Site Behind Wardlaw Elementary

From 2013 to 2016, under the auspices of a California Coastal Conservancy grant, the Solano Resource Conservation District spearheaded habitat restoration on several acres and locations throughout the corridor. Native trees, shrubs and perennial grasses planted throughout the corridor include coast live oak, buckeye, toyon, sticky monkey flower, California fuchsia, bush lupine, and California coffeeberry. The bird boxes were built and installed by Vallejo Watershed Alliance volunteers and are monitored in partnership with the local chapter of the Audubon Society. If you’re lucky, you’ll see western bluebirds nesting and raising their young.

Between the path and Wardlaw Elementary School, the creek channel was completely hidden by invasive Himalayan blackberry. As part of the project, the blackberry was removed and the area planted with hardy native grasses, willows, and other riparian (water loving) trees and shrubs. All the work was done by hand to minimize disturbance.

In 2008 and 2009, Jesse Bethel High School students worked with the Vallejo Watershed Alliance and SLEWS, a program of the Center for Land Based Learning, to plant willow and oak trees along the creek.

Signpost #9:

Bridge behind Wardlaw Dog and Skate Park

Welcome to the Blue Rock Springs Creek Corridor and Hanns Park! This is a very special area, filled with habitat restoration sites, historical significance, and areas of peace and quiet. In a special project partnership between the Vallejo Watershed Alliance and Leadership Vallejo Year 10, sign posts were installed in July 2017 throughout the corridor. The QR codes connect to the Alliance website where you can read about particular areas of restoration or natural history.

In 2005, a group of local residents and public agencies (including Vallejo Flood & Wastewater District and the Greater Vallejo Recreation District) partnered to create the Vallejo Watershed Alliance. This is a community-based volunteer group that regularly hosts habitat restoration projects and creek cleanups in this corridor and along other waterways in Vallejo. As you walk up and down the corridor, sign posts will describe some of the restoration work and other points of interest.

You can join the Vallejo Watershed Alliance by texting the word WATERSHED to 42828, or emailing Info@VallejoWatershedAlliance.org with your request. You will receive monthly notices of volunteer activities, and your email will not be shared or sold.

Signpost #10:

Ascot Storm Drain

Let’s talk trash! The large storm drain outlet on the south side of the bridge is the site of frequent cleanups by the Vallejo Watershed Alliance. The storm drain carries rainwater from surrounding neighborhoods into Blue Rock Springs Creek. Unfortunately, any trash or other pollutants picked up from the streets are also are carried to the creek. You can help by properly disposing of all trash, using no or less-toxic pesticides on your yard, and volunteering for local cleanups. Learn more at www.VallejoWatershedAlliance.org.

Signpost #11:

High School Creek Biomonitoring

This is the last of the sign posts along the Blue Rock Springs Creek Corridor. The headwaters of the creek bubble up as a spring in the golf course and are hidden by vegetation.

For more than ten years, the Vallejo Flood & Wastewater District has funded the high school creek biomonitoring program provided by the education team at the Solano Resource Conservation District. These classes run January through May, with in-depth classroom instruction and two field days; one is focused on restoration work and the other for field biomonitoring to assess creek conditions and identify and count creek life. This program helps students understand the watershed and learn how water quality is affected by natural and man-made conditions. Participating schools include Vallejo High School, Jesse Bethel High School, and the Mare Island Technology charter school.

Testing sites start here, near the fence, and continue down through the corridor. The creek itself goes underground, reappearing briefly near Avery Greene Honda, then under Interstate Highway 80 to run through Newell Mobile Park before merging with Rindler Creek on Coach Lane south of the Solano County Fairgrounds, another monitoring site. From there the water flows north along Fairgrounds Drive, then cuts under the road and enters Lake Chabot. On the west side of the lake, Chabot Creek (final monitoring site) flows above ground for a short distance before moving through storm drain pipes out to the Mare Island Strait.