During the mid-19th century, the lower Walnut Creek watershed was a landscape dominated by extensive wetlands, meandering creeks, and grassy plains. The marshes, sloughs, and meadows provided habitat and food for a huge number of wildlife species ranging from grizzly bears and elk to clapper rails and steelhead. Over the past 150 years, urban development, diking and filling of wetlands, and channelization of streams has resulted in dramatic changes to the watershed, and much of the historical habitat has been lost. Though the lower Walnut Creek landscape has been forever altered, understanding the ecological patterns and processes that were present in the past can help us to restore elements of natural ecosystem functions, making the watershed more resilient to future changes.

The Lower Walnut Creek Historical Ecology Study drew on a wide range of archival data sources, including maps, photographs, and textual documents, to reconstruct the landscape of lower Walnut Creek as it existed during the mid-1800s. The study is one component of Flood Control 2.0, a regional effort to redesign flood control channels to achieve flood protection objectives while enhancing habitat values. Findings from the historical ecology study will be used to help guide ongoing efforts to restore habitat, reduce flood risk, and enhance resilience to sea level rise in the lower Walnut Creek area.

Programs and Focus Areas: 
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
Shoreline Resilience
Watershed Science & Management
Location Information