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Arboretum Waterway habitat project gets big boost

$5.4 million grant allows for project's completion

Artist's rendering of arboretum
This artist's rendering shows what the Arboretum Waterway project will look like when completed. (Courtesy UC Davis Arboretum)

A long-awaited transformation at UC Davis is a step closer to reality – the completion of the Arboretum Waterway habitat project.

The university has received a $5.4 million grant from the California Natural Resources Agency to finish the “Arboretum Waterway Flood Protection and Habitat Enhancement” project. The public is invited to a virtual community meeting via Zoom to discuss the project at 7 p.m Thursday, Feb. 24. Advance registration for the meeting is required; sign up here:

Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2018. That phase engineered water flow and replanted native vegetation near the arboretum’s Wyatt Deck, through the Redwood Grove to the eastern end of the Arboretum Waterway.

Four years later, the arboretum can now tackle the remaining three phases of the waterway’s makeover, starting at Lake Spafford (near Mrak Hall) and extending west to the campus equestrian center. Besides the new grant, the university will contribute $2.5 million in deferred maintenance funds to the waterway project.

“We are ecstatic about this project,” said Kathleen Socolofsky, assistant vice chancellor and director of the Arboretum and Public Garden, in an official release. “It has all come together thanks to many thoughtful years of planning and collaboration with faculty and other campus partners. The proof of concept for our overall plan is flourishing and now we can finish the transformation.”

Also known as Putah Creek (although it doesn’t actually connect to that creek), the Arboretum Waterway forms the backbone of the arboretum as well as serves as part of the campus flood control system.

Expected to be completed in 2024, the remaining phases will remove concrete walls that now line the waterway and replace them with gently sloped earthen banks studded with trees, shrubs and native plants. As a home to birds and other wildlife, the waterway will be reshaped with islands in the stream, narrows to speed water flow and pockets of marshlike wetlands.

In addition to helping wildlife, the project will also greatly benefit students – especially those studying wetland habitat restoration – by providing hands-on job training. Working with the arboretum in the restoration project will be the California Conservation Corps and the Center for Land-Based Learning’s SLEWS (Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship) program.

Learn more at .


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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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