Culverts will come off for East Bay creek’s restoration to natural state

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

By Annie Sciacca / East Bay Times 

More than 2,000 feet of McCosker Creek in the Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is covered by a failing metal culvert that’s 60 years old. Giant sinkholes have opened up and dissolved the metal, allowing sediment to seep in, according to the East Bay Regional Park District.

But an influx of $4 million in state funding — secured by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, working with park district officials — should help save the day and provide new opportunities for viewing wildlife, recreation and even camping at the site.

The project entails restoring the culvert section of creek in the upper San Leandro watershed to a natural stream. Park district leaders hope to create a sustainable habitat for fish and other wildlife, as well as native plants.

The area will be able to support up to 10 “special status” wildlife species, including the California red-legged frog, the golden eagle, the Cooper’s hawk, the California foothill yellow-legged frog, the Alameda whipsnake and the San Francisco dusky-footed wood rat, according to the park district.

“This project returns the land back to its natural state as a thriving creek ecosystem and will provide access so the restored environment can be experienced and appreciated by the public,” park district board member Beverly Lane said in a news release.

The district’s chief of stewardship, Matt Graul, said it will be the district’s largest creek restoration project ever.

Signs will be added, and so will places for visitors to view wildlife. In addition, there will be a campground for groups of overnight campers.

Park district officials expect the restoration to happen through the 2020 season and say district staff will maintain the habitat once it’s completed.