Above: "Keith Falls," a small waterfall on Codornices Creek above Keith Street.

Below: Schoolchildren discover creek life in Codornices Creek at Live Oak Park.


Pruning (above) and planting (below) on lower Codornices Creek.

Codornices Creek

Codornices is our area's most intact creek, with a population of steelhead/rainbow trout that we discovered (these are the same species). Watch this video of steelhead in Codornices Creek.

Codornices Creeks' headwaters are small streams in the Berkeley Hills, some with beautiful waterfalls. The Friends of Five Creeks have carried out many small projects along these headwater streams, in parks or along Berkeley's historic path network, including installing interpretive signs. In Codornices Park, we help East Bay Green Parks Association and Los Amigos de Codornices remove ivy and restore natives. In part of Live Oak Park, Friends of Five Creeks volunteers including neighbors and schoolchildren have replaced ivy with natives along the creek (slide show).

Our larger projects are lower on the creek. Our first big project, begun in 1999, was restoring Codornices Creek at the Ohlone Greenway, the regional bicycle-pedestrian trail on the BART right-of-way. Inspired and led by local architect Todd Jersey, we replaced ivy and trash with native plants, improved access, and built a handsome observation railing on Codornices Creek at the Ohlone Greenway. See our slide show below.

Our discovery of the steelhead in lower Codornices Creek was a major factor in a long-term plan to restore the degraded creek from Kains Street downstream. Friends of Five Creeks has been part of this in many ways, from advocacy to major work parties thinning overgrown vegetation or planting natives. Our volunteers built a trail and have long maintained the block between 9th and 10th Streets. We recruit volunteers for our smaller sister group, the Codornices Creek Watershed Council, for the block between 6th and 8th Streets. We cleaned up and successfully campaigned for adequate maintenance in the reach between the railroad tracks and freeway. See our slide show of work on the lower creek below.

Friends of Five Creeks and Balance Hydrologics maintain a gauge with live readings of Codornices Creek flow, temperature, and conductivity — a measure of some kinds of pollution. The information, used by professionals and researchers, also vividly shows the flash-flood-like rise and fall of the creek during storms. This "flashiness" of urban creeks is due to the impermeable streets, sidewalks, roofs, and parking lots that cover our cities. Water can no longer soak into soil, so it rushes to creeks via storm drains. The result is erosion, floods, and harm to wildlife, as small creatures can be swept downstream.

Friends of Five Creeks' longer-term hopes include expanding the salt marsh south of Buchanan Street, near the creek's mouth, on property belonging to Golden Gate Fields race track. See our feasibility study by Balance Hydrologics. This project is likely to await longer-term planning of the future of this property.