By Bob Tomlin
Since childhood I have loved spending time along streams and rivers, hiking, camping and seeing the fish, frogs, turtles and birds and as an adult fly fishing for trout in the Sierras. Retiring on property with a year around stream (Soquel Creek) flowing thru it was a dream come true. Soon after moving in I took an exploratory hike for a mile upstream and was surprised at how few fish, frogs and turtles I saw; 10 medium sized frogs, one trout (6” long), one sculpin, one squawfish, no turtles and very few “fishy” looking spots in a mile of stream. Our particular quarter mile section was generally barren looking with only a couple of pools, mostly long, straight and shallow sun bleached stretches with the gravel and cobble bottom heavily silted in the lower half. I thought to do some type of modest manually constructed stream bed alterations to create some pools, refuges and shade for fish and amphibians and began asking neighbors for referrals to a stream habitat expert that could give me some advice on what to do.
Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County Board President Jim McKenna and the rest of the RCD family are extremely saddened by the passing of former RCD Executive Director Karen Christensen on January 21 after living with cancer for over four years.
Karen began working with the RCD as a volunteer but quickly advanced to lead the RCD as Executive Director where she worked for 18 years with an ever-present smile, limitless energy, optimism and dedication. Karen charted a course for the RCD based on the belief that private land owners were overlooked as a meaningful force for conservation. Karen’s bold vision, leadership and collaborative style brought together unlikely allies including landowners, agencies and technical specialists to reduce water pollution and erosion, protect water supplies, improve wildlife habitat and sustain working lands. In accepting a 2013 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, Karen was quoted as saying, “If you want to affect water, you have to harness the power of landowners.”
The RCD in partnership with the Coastal Watershed Council hosted a tour of the new Heart of Soquel Plaza Park (HOS) and the Soquel Creek Water District Headquarters. With winter upon us, the tour highlighted stormwater management features at both locations that help slow down, spread out, and sink stormwater back into the ground or save it for later use.
The HOS project includes a community open plaza with permeable pavers that allow water to infiltrate through and back into the ground. It incorporates bioswales for capturing stormwater runoff into a beautiful open space. Creekside restoration and a walkway along the top bank of Soquel Creek are other features of the new park.