Santa Rosa Creek Monitoring Plan
The focus of this project is to identify pollution sources and problems
in water quality, and use data collected to develop fact sheets
and educational materials for the general public highlighting best
management practices and strategies for reducing pollution.
Dissolved Oxygen (DO)
The project's orientation and initial sampling date was March 27,
Parameters were chosen according to general interest to citizen
monitors, and relation to erosion impacts. Sites were chosen according
to the following criteria:
- Representative of the areas of the Creek for general creek characterization.
- Concerns of water pollution resulting from potential erosion from
upstream timber harvests
- Concerns with pollution and flow interference from gravel mine
- Accessibility and safely throughout the year, as well as trespassing
The monitoring program is intended to develop baseline characterization
data, document water and habitat quality changes over time and to
help establish a scientific basis for land use decisions. Sites
and parameters were chosen after discussions with local residents.
Monitor: Bonnie Hogue 3/27/03- 8/28/04
Paul Larkin: 4/28/05-present
Rosa Creek "Community Values, Restoration and Monitoring
of Santa Rosa Creek:Indicators of Health in the Prince Memorial
Humboldt State University student
The downtown reach of Santa Rosa Creek has received a great deal
of attention in recent years. This paper explains restoration, monitoring,
and community and educational activities that have taken place in
this ecosystem. Here, the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan, which guides
restoration and development along the creek, is used to determine
what the community values in this ecosystem. From analysis of this
document, ecosystem services are chosen. Physical, chemical, biological
and social indicators, which may be useful in determining ecosystem
health, are explained and some collected data is offered. However,
this data is not complete enough to determine whether the ecosystem
became healthier after restoration.
Santa Rosa Creek is located in the southern region of the Russian
River watershed. This watershed drains 1,485 acres in Northern California's
Sonoma and Mendocino Counties (California Department of Fish and
Game, 2002: 4). Santa Rosa Creek is approximately 22 miles long
and has its headwaters in Hood Mountain (City of Santa Rosa, County
of Sonoma, Sonoma County Water Agency, 1993: 9). From here, water
flows through Santa Rosa Creek to the Laguna de Santa Rosa, then
into the Russian River and finally into the Pacific Ocean at Jenner,
California (City of Santa Rosa, County of Sonoma, Sonoma County
Water Agency, 1993: 9).
Rosa Creek has historically supported steelhead (City of Santa Rosa,
2004-a). Specifically, Central California Coast Steelhead (Oncorhynchus
mykiss) inhabit the Russian River and its tributaries (Entrix, 2004:
1-17). These salmonids are native to the Russian River watershed
(Entrix, 2004: 2-38). They are also listed as a threatened species
under the Endangered Species Act (Entrix, 2004: 1-15). The Russian
River and its tributaries have been designated by NOAA Fisheries
as critical steelhead habitat (Entrix, 2004: 1-16). Therefore, conservation
of this habitat is essential.
Santa Rosa Creek flows through Santa Rosa, California, the most
urbanized city in the Russian River watershed (CDFG, 2002: 63).
Today Santa Rosa has a growing population. Between 2000 and 2004,
5,635 people were added to its number of residents, bringing the
estimated population to 153,489 (Entrix, 2004: 2-10). Santa Rosa
was voted one of America's Most Livable Communities (City of Santa
Rosa, 2004-e; Partners for Livable Communities, nd). Significant
growth is expected to continue (Entrix, 2004: 2-10). This will likely
have an impact on Santa Rosa Creek.
Rosa was a farm town before World War II but became a suburb soon
after (Coursey, 2003: B1). In 1955 a major flood disrupted the growing
town's subdivisions (Coursey, 2003: B1). As a flood control measure,
the Central Sonoma Watershed Project was created in 1958 (CDFG,
2002: 63). Along some stretches, vegetation was removed and the
creek was straightened and channelized (Coursey, 2003: B1). In the
downtown area, the creek was entombed and eventually City Hall was
built on top (Coursey, 2003: B1). Thus, flood control and urbanization
have been significant stressors to this ecosystem.
The specific ecosystem I am looking at is the stretch of Santa Rosa
Creek located in downtown Santa Rosa, where restoration has taken
place and resulted in the Prince Memorial Greenway. Ecosystems are
human constructions, as their boundaries and important aspects are
defined based on our values (Hull and Robertson, 2000: 105). The
parameters chosen determine what will be studied in that ecosystem
(Hull and Robertson, 2000: 105). Ecosystem is a complex term with
many definitions (Hull and Robertson, 2000: 105). For those who
must have a definition in order to grasp a concept, an ecosystem
can be "
a functioning interacting system composed of
one or more living organisms and their effective environment, both
physical and biological" (Rapport, et al., 1998:104).
this definition leaves the boundaries of an ecosystem ambiguous
and leaves a great deal of room in determining what an ecosystem
is. Thus, it is appropriate to study the downtown reach of Santa
Rosa Creek as an ecosystem. For the purpose of this paper, this
ecosystem includes: the stretch of Santa Rosa Creek where it flows
through downtown Santa Rosa between City Hall and the Railroad Square
area; the Prince Memorial Greenway along this stretch of Santa Rosa
Creek; the organisms that live in the creek and depend on its habitat;
and the humans who exist near the creek or are involved with the
to look at the downtown reach of Santa Rosa Creek because significant
restoration efforts have been directed at this area. $22 million
has been spent on the Prince Memorial Greenway restoration thus
far (Bleifuss, A., personal communication, 13 December, 2004). This
restoration revegitated the channel banks and bottom and created
pools and rifles in the creek to address the goal of restoring steelhead
habitat (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-a). Trails and pathways were created
consistent with the greenway's purpose of providing a park that
the community could enjoy and use as a travel corridor (City of
Santa Rosa, 2004-a). As an indicator of its excellence, the Prince
Memorial Greenway claimed two awards for Santa Rosa in 2002 (Partners
for Livable Communities, n.d.).
in Determining Ecosystem Health
How do we know if such an ecosystem is healthy? Ecosystem health
can be understood as the vigor, organization and resilience of an
ecosystem (Rapport, Costanza, Epstein, Gaude, and Levins, 1998:
20 ). Vigor is a measure of the activity and energy of an ecosystem
and may decrease as stress increases (Rapport, et al, 1998: 28).
Organization is related to the complexity of an ecosystem (Rapport,
et al, 1998: 29). Resilience is the ecosystem's ability to recover
after stress occurs (Rapport, et al., 1998: 28). Ecosystem health
can be assessed through biophysical and socioeconomic dimensions
(Rapport, et al., 1998:34). These "objective criteria"
(Rapport, et al., 1998:20) are also known as "indicators"
(Patil, Brooks, Myers, Rapport, Tailie, 2001: 308). Indicators reveal
characteristics of an ecosystem in one or a few measurements, thus
substituting for a variety of other measurements, which may be more
difficult to gather (Rapport, et al., 1998: 105). Indicators can
be used to measure specific services of an ecosystem. These ecosystem
services are the functions of an ecosystem that benefit humans (Rapport,
et al, 1998: 30). Thus, the health of an ecosystem can be understood
by studying its ability to provide necessary and valued services.
human values impact which ecosystem services are deemed important
(Rapport, Gaudet, Karr, Baron, Bohlen, Jackson, Jones, Naiman, Norton
and Pollock, 1998: 1 ) and which indicators will be used to assess
the health of an ecosystem. Human values even determine our understanding
of ecosystem health (Hull and Robertson, 2000: 104). Because values
come into play whenever anyone defines an ecosystem or chooses important
ecosystem services and indicators, determining health becomes complicated.
Since I am not a part of the ecosystem I am studying, I wanted to
impose as few of my own values on it as possible. This may be nearly
impossible, however I attempt it by focusing on what has happened
within this ecosystem, rather than what I think should happen. Thus,
this paper focuses on understanding some of the ecosystem services
valued by residents and agencies involved in restoring Santa Rosa
Creek, and some of the indicators they use to measure this ecosystem's
I hoped to gather baseline and current data on these indicators
to determine whether the downtown portion of Santa Rosa Creek has
become healthier after restoration. Large amounts of data have been
collected on the Russian River Watershed. Knowing this, I attempted
to obtain data on the Prince Memorial Greenway portion of Santa
Rosa Creek. This was done through an extensive library and web search,
and by contacting people associated with the creek. I contacted
people at: the City of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma County Water Agency;
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in San Francisco; RRM Design Group,
the firm that did the planning and landscape design for Prince Memorial
Greenway (Zaro, T., personal communication, 19 November 2004); the
Community Clean Water Institute, now located in Sebastopol CA. My
most helpful connection was Alistair Bleifuss, the Program Coordinator
for the Sonoma County Water Agency and City of Santa Rosa Creek
Stewardship Program. Unfortunately, despite my searches and the
efforts of Mr. Bleifuss, I was unable to gather sufficient data
specifically regarding the downtown reach of Santa Rosa Creek.
I was unable to obtain baseline and current data to compare, I cannot
determine whether the downtown reach of Santa Rosa Creek is healthier
now than it was before restoration began. Instead, in this paper
I explain some of the ecosystem services and indicators that were
chosen and how these indicators are being used to monitor the health
of this ecosystem. I explain some of the data that has been collected
for these indicators. I also offer five social indicators that might
be used to determine the health of this ecosystem.
I analyzed the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan to determine which ecosystem
services the community values. This is an appropriate way to determine
valued ecosystem services because the stated purpose of the plan
is to "describe a community vision" (City of Santa Rosa,
County of Sonoma, Sonoma County Water Agency, 1993: 7). Thus, the
plan contains the community's hopes for the creek and the agreed
upon methods for pursuing the community's vision. As described below,
I have chosen three ecosystem services based on the plan. Although
these are not the only ecosystem services this community values,
describing each of the valued ecosystem services and their indicators
is beyond the scope of this paper.
Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan
The Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan is a 231 page conceptual plan providing
policies to guide restoration and development along Santa Rosa Creek
(City of Santa Rosa, et al, 1993: 3). It establishes long-range
goals to preserve healthy areas of the creek, restore unhealthy
areas, and promote use and appreciation of the creek (City of Santa
Rosa, et al., 1993: 3).
process towards creating the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan began
when six concerned residents took a walk along the creek in February
1989 and were inspired to do something about the creek's future
(Committee for Restoring Santa Rosa Creek, 1990: 4). Other people
became involved and a committee formed (CRSRC, 1990: 4). Public
workshops and activities were held to help citizens express their
visions for Santa Rosa Creek (CRSC, 1990: 5; City of Santa Rosa,
et al., 1993: 141). Ideas were then compiled and presented in Creek
an idea book (CRSRC, 1990:5). A workshop with
local and regional experts helped address problems with the community
vision, and the Work Program created the goals that are now found
in the plan (City of Santa Rosa, 1993: 142). In order to prepare
the plan, a planning team was then created (City of Santa Rosa,
Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan summarizes the public participation
process the planning team used to create the plan. Planning team
meetings were open to the public and some citizens regularly attended
(City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 142). The planning team also
held neighborhood meetings to listen to the opinions of citizens
living near the creek (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 142). In
order to obtain input from the entire community, the planning team
publicized and conducted a workshop that 300 people attended (City
of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 142). Afterwards, the team continued
to make contact with individuals and groups in the community (City
of Santa Rosa, et al, 1993: 142). Then, attempting to incorporate
community input, the planning team created a Draft Master Plan as
well as a Draft Environmental Impact Report (City of Santa Rosa,
et al., 1993: 143). After citizens were allowed to comment on the
draft plan at public hearings, a Public Comments Alternative Plan
was created and compared with the draft plan (City of Santa Rosa,
et al., 1993: 143). On September 21, 1993, the City of Santa Rosa,
County of Sonoma and Sonoma county Water Agency adopted the Santa
Rosa Creek Master Plan (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 1).
people who participate in the discussion about an ecosystem determine
which services are important. The opportunity to participate thus
becomes critical. Michaelidou, Decker, and Lassoie (2002) explain
that meaningful community participation in ecosystem conservation
requires involving local people in determining policies and programs
that affect them (609). Furthermore, local participation can increase
support for conservation efforts (Michaelidou, et al., 2002: 609).
projects can increase social inequity when they only benefit community
elites (Michaelidou, et al, 2002: 609). Projects should benefit
a variety of community members (Michaelidou, et al, 2002: 609).
Thus it is necessary to consider who is being left out. For example,
one recommendation listed in Creek Dreams Revealed is to "address
the problems created by homeless people now occupying the creek
corridor" (CRSRC, 1990: 10). From this perspective, homeless
people are "others," causing disturbances which the community
must fix. However, homeless people existing near the creek are part
of the ecosystem. They deserve to be treated as such and offered
the chance to take part in solving community problems. Thus, an
important question to ask is: were they involved in creating the
Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan which would affect them? Unfortunately,
neither Creek Dreams Revealed nor the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan
answer this question.
Rosa Creek Master Plan Goals
Even if the public participation process was not perfect, it was
extensive. Thus the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan indicates what
the community values in its ecosystem. The plan does this in part
by outlining ten goals, with policies and objectives accompanying
each (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: chapter 3). The first goal
is "conserve and restore natural habitats." This goal
displays the intent to use natural features in restoration, protect
and reintroduce endangered species, and protect water quality (City
of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 21-28). "Maintain hydraulic capacity"
is the plan's second goal. Policies associated with this goal will
control erosion with environmentally sensitive techniques, modify
the channel where necessary, promote maintenance only in necessary
areas, and maintain flood control capacity (City of Santa Rosa et
al., 1993: 29-34). Goal number three, "respect private property,"
prohibits the use of eminent domain to implement the plan (City
of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 35-37). The fourth goal is "enhance
access." This goal focuses on providing the community with
entryways to the creek (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 38-39).
"Provide recreational opportunities" is goal five. This
includes developing trailheads and paths, improving the area so
residents with disabilities can use it, allowing recreational use
of a certain pond, and considering development of a sports facility
(City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 40-46).
sixth goal is "designate creek-oriented commercial areas."
This goal encourages developments near the creek to incorporate
design guidelines appropriate for the creek area (City of Santa
Rosa, et al., 1993: 47-48). Goal seven, "enhance aesthetic
values," focuses on the beauty of the creek area (City of Santa
Rosa, et al., 1993: 49-50). "Provide educational opportunities"
is goal eight. This goal encourages schools, organizations, and
individuals to learn about and care for the creek (City of Santa
Rosa, et al., 1993: 51-52). Goal nine is "establish an alternative
transportation mode of bikeways and pathways." Policies associated
with this goal would create a non-vehicular, clearly marked path
along the creek so individuals can travel downtown without needing
a car (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 53). The tenth goal, "take
advantage of opportunities to be part of regional trail systems,"
promotes the use of the creek greenway to connect existing trails
(City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 54).
Along with these goals, the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan offers
specific improvements for the downtown reach (City of Santa Rosa,
et al., 1993: 86-93). These include restoring the creek channel,
increasing access to the creek, creating paths along the creek,
maintaining existing parks near the creek, creating new parks, and
creating a "creek promenade" that will attract people
to the creek (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 86-88). These improvements
focus on restoring habitat and promoting use and appreciation of
the creek. Other proposed improvements include: creating a creek
focal point at city hall; creating an energy dissipator to decrease
water velocity and erosion; redeveloping the historic Railroad Square
area near the creek; and incorporating aspects of the creek into
the hotel and conference center nearby (City of Santa Rosa et al.,
plan's first goal and its downtown reach improvements promote habitat
restoration. Thus, valued ecosystem services include maintaining
water quality in the creek and the quality of habitat available
for aquatic life. In addition, many of the master plan goals and
proposed improvements for the downtown reach emphasize the importance
of community involvement with the creek. Thus, I propose that community
involvement with the creek is valued as an ecosystem service.
Sources for Indicators
Below I explain the physical, chemical, biological, and social indicators
associated with these ecosystem services. Rather than create my
own indicators associated with each ecosystem service, I wanted
to find out which indicators are already being used in measurements
of the downtown reach of Santa Rosa Creek. To do this I looked at
studies on Santa Rosa Creek undertaken by community agencies and
Water quality indicators and habitat quality indicators were found
in city and county studies as well as citizen monitoring programs.
I was unable to find community studies or citizen monitoring programs
stating social indicators of involvement. Therefore, despite my
reluctance to impose values upon this ecosystem, I needed to create
indicators. The rationale for these indicators is based on the goals
of the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan and the activities which currently
occur around the creek.
Since 1990 the EPA has required every urban area with a population
over 100,000 to have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) permit (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-e). This permit
regulates the stormwater that flows into natural bodies of water
and requires the Santa Rosa area to have a Stormwater Management
Program to control stormwater pollution (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-e).
Together, the City of Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Water Agency and
County of Sonoma run the Santa Rosa Area Storm Water Management
Program to deal with the requirements of the NPDES permit (City
of Santa Rosa, 2004-e). The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System Permit Monitoring Plan is used to monitor water quality in
waterways receiving runoff (Sonoma County Water Agency, City of
Santa Rosa, County of Sonoma, 2002: V-3). Chemical, physical and
biological indicators of water quality are used to monitor waterways.
Chemical and physical indicators include total suspended solids
(TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS), temperature, pH, nitrogen,
fecal coliform and phosphorous (Sonoma County Water Agency, et al.,
suspended solids (TSS) refers to the non-filterable substance that
is left behind after a water sample is evaporated and dried (Chapman,
1992: 60). An increase in TSS could indicate erosion (Chapman, 1992:
246). TSS, along with temperature and turbidity, is affected by
human agricultural activities and the use of water for cooling (Chapman,
1992: 272). Total dissolved solids (TDS) is a measurement of the
filterable substance left after a water sample is evaporated and
dried (Chapman, 1992: 60).
Temperature affects various chemical, physical, and biological processes:
as temperature increases, evaporation, chemical reaction rates,
and volatilization of substances increase, while the solubility
of some gases such as carbon dioxide and oxygen decreases (Chapman,
1992: 58). Bacteria and phytoplankton may also increase with increasing
temperature, causing increased turbidity and possible algal blooms,
which decrease oxygen content (Chapman, 1992: 58). Temperature is
also important in maintaining habitat for steelhead, which are cold-water
fish (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 24). The maximum temperature
for salmonid growth and survival is 22 C (City of Santa Rosa, et
al., 1993: 24).
measures how acidic or basic the water is, and affects many chemical
and biological processes (Chapman, 1992: 62). The pH for natural
bodies of water usually ranges from 6.0 to 8.5 (Chapman, 1992: 62).
The basin plan allows Russian River waters to range between 6.5
and 8.5 (City of Santa Rosa, County of Sonoma, and Sonoma County
Water Agency, 2004: V-3). An increase in pH can indicate the growth
of algae (Community Clean Water Initiative, n.d.). An increase in
algae could decrease oxygen content (Chapman, 1992: 58), possibly
harming other aquatic life.
The nitrogen compounds, nitrate (NO3-), nitrite (NO2-) molecular
nitrogen (N2) and ammonia (NH3) are found in waterways and are important
for living organisms (Chapman, 1992: 69). Nitrate arises naturally
in waterways from igneous rock and organic debris, however municipal
wastewater may increase nitrate levels (Chapman, 1992: 71). Ammonia
naturally arises when nitrogenous matter breaks down but may also
be present in waterways due to municipal waste (Chapman, 1992:69-70).
High levels of ammonia can be toxic to aquatic organisms (Chapman,
1992: 70). Increased nitrate and ammonia levels indicate waste and
pollution (Chapman, 1992: 69-71)
Fecal coliform is used to determine sewage contamination (Jamil,
2001: 9). Fecal coliform can pose a significant health risk in waterways
that are used as a source of drinking water, food preparation, personal
hygiene or even recreation (Chapman, 1992: 102). In one study reported
by the North Coast Regional Quality Control Board, all samples taken
from early April to early July 2002 along the Prince Memorial Greenway
portion of Santa Rosa Creek had fecal coliform levels above Department
of Health or Basin Plan standards (North Coast Regional Quality
Control Board, 2004: 2002 data).
is also an important indicator of creek health and water quality.
Like nitrogenous compounds, phosphorous is important for living
organisms and arises naturally from rock weathering and the breakdown
of organic substances (Chapman, 1992: 76). Plants take up phosphorous,
thus it is not usually detected in freshwater in high amounts (Chapman,
1992: 77). High levels of phosphorous indicate pollution (Chapman,
These chemical and physical indicators are measured by the Santa
Rosa Water Agency and the County of Sonoma at two places along Santa
Rosa Creek, one of which is upstream of the urban area, the other
of which is downstream. By monitoring these two sites, water quality
can be assessed for stormwater as it flows through the downtown
portion of Santa Rosa Creek (Sonoma County Water Agency, City of
Santa Rosa, County of Sonoma, 2002: V-8). This data is reported
in the Storm Water Management Plan Annual Report (City of Santa
Rosa, et al., 2004: V-3).
taken from the two sites between November 2003 and March 2004 had
appropriate pH and nitrogen levels, and phosphorous was not detected
(City of Santa Rosa, et al., 2004: V-3-4). However, samples from
the downstream site had higher temperature, TSS, TDS and fecal coliform
amounts than the upstream site (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 2004:
V-3). Thus, water quality decreases as water flows through the downtown
portion of Santa Rosa Creek. Unfortunately, I could not obtain data
for the first seven years of monitoring. Thus, I cannot compare
the difference in water quality for Santa Rosa Creek over time using
also monitor chemical and physical indicators of Santa Rosa Creek.
According to the program coordinator for the Community Clean Water
Institute, an adult citizen involved with that organization has
been monitoring the creek at a site downtown once a month for about
2 years (Sandler. M. personal communication, December 14, 2004).
2003 data for the downtown reach of the creek is available online
(Community Clean Water Institute, 2003). 2004 data is still being
compiled but was sent to me for use in this paper (Sandler, M.,
personal communication, 14 December, 2004). The 2003 data I obtained
includes samples taken once a month from February through August,
excluding the month of May (CCWI, 2003). The 2004 data includes
samples taken once a month excluding April, September and December
(Sandler, M., personal communication, 15 December, 2004). Samples
were taken along the Greenway at 3rd St., west of highway 101 (Sandler,
M., personal communication, 15 December, 2004). The indicators used
include dissolved oxygen (DO), temperature, pH, turbidity, and nitrate.
oxygen is a measure of the amount of oxygen that is dissolved in
the water (CCWI, n.d.). This oxygen is crucial for the survival
of aquatic life (Chapman, 1992: 64). Thus, low levels of dissolved
oxygen indicate poor habitat conditions. The average level of dissolved
oxygen is 10mg/l at 15 C and salmonids need more than 6mg/l (CCWI,
Turbidity refers to the amount of suspended particles in the water
(CCWI, n.d.). Both increased water velocity and increased organic
material can increase turbidity (CCWI, n.d.). However, when turbidity
is increased by organic particles, dissolved oxygen decreases (CCWI,
n.d.). Increased turbidity also reduces the amount of light in the
waterway, which has a negative effect on aquatic life and can therefore
cause a decrease in fish populations (CCWI, n.d.). The appropriate
level of turbidity for salmonids is less than 10 NTU (CCWI, n.d.).
all but one of the 2003 and 2004 samples, dissolved oxygen is higher
than the minimum amount needed for salmonid survival. These levels
could indicate a relatively healthy habitat. pH is within the Basin
Plan ideal for all but four of the samples. pH is above the ideal
for these four samples, which could indicate pollution in the creek.
Water temperature is below 22 C for all but one sample. The temperature
of this sample, taken in June 2003, is 24 C, higher than the maximum
ideal temperature for salmonid survival. However, summer temperatures
for both 2003 and 2004 are between 20 C and 21.7 C suggesting that
the summer habitat may approach harmful conditions for salmonids.
Turbidity for 2003 and 2004 range between 0.33 and 2.41 NTU for
most of the samples. This is well below the appropriate level for
salmonids. However, in the April 2003 sample, turbidity was 21.3
NTU and in the February 2004 sample turbidity was 30 NTU. These
outliers could indicate pollution, but may also result from increased
flow during a storm. Overall, this data points to fair conditions
in the creek. However, this data does not tell how conditions have
changed over time.
community does not limit itself to using only the chemical and physical
indicators explained above. Biological indicators are also used
in determining water quality and habitat quality (Sonoma County
Water Agency, et al., 2002: V-11). The City of Santa Rosa Aquatic
Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment Project measures biological indicators
to understand the health of the area's creeks (City of Santa Rosa,
2004-b). Student volunteers and professionals conduct bioassessments
(City of Santa Rosa, 2004-b). The bioassessment project uses the
"California Stream Bioassessment Procedure," which is
based on the EPA's Rapid Bioassessment Protocols for Use in Streams
and Rivers (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-b). Both the students and professionals
use this protocol, however the analysis of macroinvertebrates in
the professional bioassessment is more complex (City of Santa Rosa,
California Stream Bioassessment Procedure uses both benthic macroinvertebrates
and habitat conditions to assess the health of the creeks (City
of Santa Rosa, 2004-c) both of which provide indicators of creek
health. This procedure provides useful indicators because it is
cost effective (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-c).
Analyzing the benthic macroinvertebrate community is useful for
a variety of reasons. The public may find this a more perceptible
indicator than most chemical indicators (Honachefsky, 2000: 127).
Macroinvertebrates do not migrate far, thus, these measurements
provide a measure of localized pollution (Barbour, Gerritsen, Snyder,
and Stribling, 1999: section 3.2.2; Honachefsky, 2000: 127). Macroinvertebrates
are found in most streams and sampling them does not harm stream
life (Barbour, et. al., 1999: section 3.2.2). Furthermore, this
is an easy and inexpensive indicator to use (Barbour, et. al, 1999:
section 3.2.2; Honachefsky, 2000:127). Only a small number of people
are needed for collection, and experienced biologists can usually
identify macroinvertebrates to the family level (Barbour, et al.,
1999: section 3.2.2). However, as Honachefsky (2000) notes, the
use of biologic indicators such as benthic macroinvertebrates should
not replace chemical monitoring (127). Thus, it is important that
both chemical and biological monitoring takes place on Santa Rosa
macroinvertebrate community metrics can be used as biological indicators
of water quality because the various taxa fill different niches
and have differing tolerances to pollutants (Honachefsky, 2000:
117). When environmental conditions change, the composition of the
benthic macroinvertebrate community will also shift, indicating
good or poor water quality (Honachefsky, 2000: 117). For example,
mayfly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, aquatic beetles and stonefly nymphs
indicate good water quality while aquatic sowbugs, black fly larvae,
chironomids and segmented worms such as leeches indicate poor water
quality (Honachefsky, 2000: 124-125).
are based upon an analysis of the 100 organisms collected in these
measurements (Honachefsky, 2000: 117). For the professional assessment
of the Santa Rosa watershed, metrics have been grouped into richness
measures, composition measures, tolerance/ intolerance measures,
functional feeding groups and abundance (Sustainable Land Stewardship
Institute, 2002: 6-7). Increasing richness measures indicate increasing
diversity and health because the habitat is able to support various
species (SLSI, 2002: 6). Composition measures reflect the importance
of certain taxa in the ecosystem (SLSI, 2002: 7). Tolerance/ intolerance
measures indicate changes in the environment through the sensitivity
of taxa to pollution (SLSI, 2002: 7). Functional feeding groups
are an indicator of trophic relationships and the availability of
food sources (SLSI, 2002: 7).
combinations of habitat indicators used in the California Stream
Bioassessment Procedure are also valuable because they give a general
picture of aquatic life (Barbour, et al., 1999: section 3.3). These
indicators of habitat quality include instream cover, epifaunal
substrate, embeddedness, sediment deposition, channel alteration,
channel flow, riparian zone, riffle frequency, bank vegetation,
and bank stability (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-d).
cover refers to the number of snags and logs present to provide
fish habitat, while epifaunal substrate refers to the material available
for benthic macroinvertebrates to inhabit (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-d).
These are important because their presence can increase habitat
diversity in the creek, thus allowing for increased populations
of macroinvertebrates and fish (Barbour, et al., 1999: Chapter 5,
Embeddedness is a measure of the extent to which rocks have been
covered on the stream bottom due to sediment deposition. As embeddedness
increases, habitat of macroinvertebrates and fish decreases (Barbour,
et al., 1999: Chapter 5, part B). Not to be confused with embeddedness,
sediment deposition is a measure of the large-scale movement of
sediment that occurs in a creek and can cause the filling of pools
and creation of islands. High sediment deposition is usually an
indicator of unstable habitat (Barbour, et al., 1999: Chapter 5,
alteration is a measure of how significantly the creek has been
changed, often to provide for flood control (Barbour, et al., 1999:
Chapter 5, part B). Channel flow, however, refers to how full the
streambed is with water; as it decreases, available habitat also
decreases (Barbour, et al., 1999: Chapter 5, part B). Riparian Zone
is a measure of the width of the vegetative buffer between the creek
and developed areas adjacent to the creek (Barbour, et al., 1999:
Chapter 5, part B). The width of this buffer is important because
possible pollutants entering the stream can be decreased as runoff
passes over the buffer (Barbour, et al., 1999: Chapter 5, part B;
Honachefsky, 2000: 138).
frequency is determined by measuring the distance between rifles,
and dividing by stream width (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-d). Because
rifles, or bends in the creek, often provide excellent habitat,
increased frequency of rifles increases the diversity of life in
the creek (Barbour, et al., 1999: Chapter 5, part B). Bank vegetation
refers to the amount of vegetation on the bank, which decreases
erosion (Barbour, et al., 1999: Chapter 5, part B). Increased vegetation,
especially native vegetation is beneficial because it can provide
cover for the stream and keep water temperatures down (Honachefsky,
2000: 138). Bank stability is a measure of actual erosion that has
occurred along a bank, with poor bank stability noted by steep banks,
exposed soil, and soil that has fallen into the creek (Barbour,
et al., 1999: Chapter 5, part B).
Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain bioassessment data on the
downtown portion of Santa Rosa Creek. The student and professional
data I obtained was collected on Brush Creek, Colgan Creek, Matanzas
Creek, Paulin Creek, Piner Creek, and Peterson Creek (City of Santa
Rosa, 2004-b: High School Metric Results 1998-2002; Sustainable
Land Stewardship Institute, 2002: 2). These are tributaries of Santa
Rosa Creek. Thus, again I do not have data to estimate how water
quality and habitat have changed over time in the downtown reach
of Santa Rosa Creek.
Quality in the urban reach of Santa Rosa Creek is estimated by bioassay,
a biological indicator of ecosystem health. Samples are taken during
the rainy season from the same two sites used to obtain samples
for chemical monitoring: upstream from the urban area at Melita
road, and downstream from the urban area at Santa Rosa Creek's confluence
with Piner creek (City of Santa Rosa, et al., 2004: V-5). For each
site, twenty rainbow trout are placed in five gallons of the sampled
water for 96 hours. In 2003 100% of the trout exposed to water from
Santa Rosa Creek at Melita Road survived, while only 70% of the
trout exposed to water from Santa Rosa Creek at Piner Creek survived
(City of Santa Rosa, et al, 2004: V-6). Thus, water quality decreases
as stormwater flows through the urban area of Santa Rosa Creek.
Unfortunately, the 2003 data is the only bioassay that exists for
the Piner Creek site, thus the water quality of the urban reach
of Santa Rosa Creek could not be compared over time using this data
(City of Santa Rosa, et al., 2004: V-6).
populations are biological indicators of ecosystem health. Fish
populations are good indicators because they can point to long term
environmental effects rather than natural environmental fluctuations
(Honachefsky, 2000: 118). They are important in determining contamination
because they are high on the food chain and eaten by humans (Honachefsky,
2000: 117; Barbour, et al., 1999: section 3.2.3). Collection and
identification of fish is relatively easy (Barbour, et al., 1999:
section 3.2.3). Furthermore, the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan states
that steelhead will be targeted as an indicator species (City of
Santa Rosa, et al, 1993: 25). Indicator species are organisms that
have characteristics that can be used to measure environmental conditions
(Noon, 2003: 9). Presence or absence of an indicator provides us
with knowledge about the state of an environment (Noon, 2003: 9).
An increase in the low levels of steelhead in Santa Rosa Creek would
indicate that the ecosystem has become healthier. A brochure published
by the City of Santa Rosa stated that numbers of juvenile steelhead
in the creek have increased. Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain
data to confirm or discredit this statement.
a 1999-2001 study of steelhead in Santa Rosa Creek explains that
many species of fish, but few steelhead, are present in the urban
portion of the creek, while fewer fish species but greater numbers
of steelhead were present upstream (Cook & Manning, 2002: 5).
The authors conclude that steelhead habitat is impaired in the urban
reach of Santa Rosa Creek (Cook & Manning, 2002: 5). Mr. Bleifuss,
my contact with the Creek Stewardship Program, explained that the
habitat for steelhead has improved since the Prince Memorial Greenway
restoration replaced a flat, concrete bottom channel with a more
natural creekbed (Bleifuss, A., personal communication, December
13, 2004). Therefore, it is likely that the habitat is impaired
in the urban reach of Santa Rosa Creek when compared to upstream
habitats. However, the habitat in downtown Santa Rosa Creek has
likely improved since restoration began.
use indicators can also be used to assess ecosystem health. Because
I did not find this type of indicator discussed in studies of Santa
Rosa Creek, I propose some here. Rapport, et al. (1998) explain
that human use indicators can measure changes in recreation use,
transportation, and aesthetics. These indicators often rely on the
attachment of monetary value to a resource (111). However, I have
decided not to do this here due to the problems associated with
quantifying the value of a community asset in dollars (Rapport,
et al, 1998: 111).
of the indicators I have chosen focus on creek monitoring: number
of students involved in creek monitoring, and number of residents
involved in monitoring. These are appropriate indicators of ecosystem
health because monitoring is beneficial to individuals in an ecosystem.
Studies by Rapport, et al., (1998) point to the benefits of volunteer
monitoring (Chapter 8). Volunteers benefit because monitoring increases
empowerment, skill level, and awareness of the ecosystem (Rapport
et al., 1998: 125). Local government agencies may benefit from volunteer
monitoring as it can allow for increased data collection without
increasing costs (Rapport, et al., 1998: 125). Support organizations
may also benefit by obtaining more data and knowledge about the
ecosystem (Rapport et al., 1998: 125). Thus, increased monitoring
may indicate ecosystem health.
a distinct indicator focusing on student monitoring because Santa
Rosa Creek Master Plan goal number 8, "provide educational
opportunities," emphasizes education for students (City of
Santa Rosa, et al., 1993: 51-52). The City of Santa Rosa Aquatic
Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment Project allows students to become
involved in monitoring local creeks. Students from six local high
schools are involved in the project each year (City of Santa Rosa,
2004-b). The City of Santa Rosa states that the primary purpose
of the project "is to educate students about their role in
stormwater pollution. Secondly, the project is designed to teach
students how to use a biological monitoring technique to evaluate
the biological and physical condition of streams in relation to
wildlife, municipal, and recreational uses" (City of Santa
Rosa, 2004-b). The City of Santa Rosa reports that since it began
in 1998, 700 students have completed the program (City of Santa
Rosa, 2004-b). This indicates an increase in health in the watershed
because students are taking part in monitoring creeks where they
have not before. Since high schools are not sampling the downtown
reach of Santa Rosa Creek, this activity is not necessarily an indicator
of health in the Prince Memorial Greenway ecosystem.
However, Stuart School, a kindergarten through eighth grade school,
is monitoring downtown Santa Rosa Creek (Community Clean Water Institute,
2004). They reportedly monitor pH, temperature, conductivity, turbidity,
and dissolved oxygen (CCWI, 2004). In 2004 students from Stuart
School developed a brochure explaining the data they gathered and
their ideas about how to keep the creek healthy (CCWI, 2004). Thus,
the Prince Memorial Greenway ecosystem may be slightly healthier
because children who attend school near that portion of Santa Rosa
Creek are learning about the creek and are involved in trying to
keep it healthy.
number of volunteers monitoring the creek can also be an indicator
of health in this ecosystem. This indicator is appropriate because
it also addresses goal 8 of the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan. As
noted above, a citizen associated with the Community Clean Water
Institute has been monitoring the downtown reach of the creek once
a month for about 2 years (Sandler, M., personal communication,
December 14, 2004). This shows sustained interest in the health
of the downtown reach of Santa Rosa Creek. However, one citizen
monitor may be a low number considering the EPA reports "'hundreds
of thousands of volunteers' participate in local monitoring programs
nationwide (Rapport, et al., 1998: 113). I realize that this may
not be the sole non-student volunteer monitor for this ecosystem.
This just happens to be the only data I was able to obtain and therefore
I cannot prove the number of monitors is higher.
social indicator focuses on the community's general involvement
with the creek. This is the number of people involved in creek activities
other than monitoring. This indicator is appropriate because interaction
between the creek and the community is valued. The Santa Rosa Creek
Master Plan states: 'Santa Rosa Creek is a community treasure. It
is a cultural as well as a natural resource. This plan will preserve
and enhance our treasure and make all parts of it accessible to
all members of our community" (City of Santa Rosa, et al.,
1993: 1). This statement stresses the significance of the relationship
between people and the creek.
not able to find hard data on the community's involvement with the
creek. However, there exists an entire program devoted to supporting
citizen involvement. This is the Creek Stewardship Program, a joint
program of the Sonoma County Water Agency and the City of Santa
Rosa (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-g). The program was started in May,
2002 and was inspired by the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan (Bleifuss,
A., personal communication, 16 December 2004). The Creek Stewardship
Program sponsors many creek events including the Prince Memorial
Greenway Creek Run/Walk to Feed the Hungry, which occurred around
the time this paper was written. The Creek Stewardship Program provides
citizens with opportunities to protect, restore and learn about
their local creeks (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-g). It supports volunteer
Creek Stewards. These citizen volunteers monitor and maintain creeks,
report poor conditions or strange activities along the creeks, and
offer advice on enhancing the creeks (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-g).
The Creek Stewardship Program also responds when citizens express
concerns about the creeks (City of Santa Rosa, 2004-g).
I was unable to obtain published data on involvement with the downtown
portion of the creek, Mr. Bleifuss of the Creek Stewardship Program
was able to provide some numbers (Bleifuss, A. personal communication,
03 December, 2004). He reports that each year naturalists lead three
to four walks with about 20 people each. Once or twice a month groups
of volunteers clean trash out of the creek. The Sierra Club sponsored
a walk that drew 75 people in August 2003. 400 people joined in
the 2003 Halloween Parade. 250 runners and walkers participated
in the Race for Food in both 2003 and 2004. The presence of this
program and the numbers of people involved with the creek because
of it indicates ecosystem health. Since this program did not exist
before 2002, there has been an increase in involvement with the
creek over time. This indicates the ecosystem may be healthier than
it was before restoration began.
two final indicators of the community's involvement with the creek.
These measure transportation and recreation opportunities. They
are: number of people using the greenway for transportation, and
number of people using the greenway for recreation. These are appropriate
indicators of ecosystem health because they address goals 5 and
9 of the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan (City of Santa Rosa, et al.,
1993: 40-45, 53). Unfortunately, I was unable to find data on these
indicators. Mr. Bleifuss was willing to guess that 100 people use
the Greenway each day to commute, and 750 to 1000 people each day
use it for recreation (Bleifuss, A., personal Communication, 03
December, 2004). Concrete data on these indicators could show whether
or not the Greenway is being used by significant numbers of residents.
Significant use would indicate a healthier ecosystem.
Many of the Santa Rosa Creek Master Plan goals are being addressed
through the restoration and activity in the Prince Memorial Greenway
ecosystem. Some aspects of the ecosystem may be less than ideal
but the community is working to address these. Ecosystem health
could be determined with more data. The difficulties of acquiring
data for this paper imply that many citizens may not be able to
quantitatively assess the health of the ecosystem of which they
are a part. Access to data is increasing since much information
can now be found online. However, sorting through the many reports
generated about the Russian River watershed is a daunting task.
Considering the amount of energy being put into the Prince Memorial
Greenway ecosystem, an easily accessible report on the health of
this area would be quite useful.
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