West Valley College administrators have announced they have received nearly $570,000 in grants to help clean up , which runs through the school for about a mile.
Awarded by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the grants will fund removal of exotic plants and the planting of native species to reconstruction of segments of the creek’s channel, according to Bradley J. Davis, associate vice chancellor of West Valley-Mission Community College District.
Over the years, the creek's waters have receded by 8 to 10 feet from their original levels, a shift that has threatened mature trees along the banks by exposing their roots systems. It has also promoted ongoing erosion and disconnected the stream from its natural flood plain, Davis explained.
The creek's restoration is expected to take between five and seven years, he added, but work has already begun.
Earlier this month, students from the college’s park management program as well as volunteers from the Boy Scouts created a 480-foot-long trail along the creek. The six-foot-wide trail stretches from behind the tennis courts to a wetland area, said Bill Taylor, facilities manager at WVC.
The project’s next phase will likely begin in spring with the construction of an observation deck near the wetland area, he said. Park management students will again be involved, as well as biology students who will assist with native plant restoration.
“Restoring the creek puts into practice what we teach our students across a spectrum of disciplines,” WVC President Lori Gaskin said in a prepared statement. “If we don’t take heed of the damage we’re doing and address it, then it becomes very hard to teach these concepts to students and not practice them ourselves.”
WVC, located in Saratoga, has an enrollment of nearly 12,000 students. Along with Mission College in Santa Clara, both institutions enroll more than 26,000 students annually. The district serves residents of Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Saratoga, Campbell, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara and is governed by the seven-member board.