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How did those river otters get into Lafayette Reservoir?

River otters in Lafayette Reservoir, CA. Photo by John Eaton, Lafayette, CA.
otters laf res john eaton

We saw four river otters at Lafayette Reservoir today (Jan. 23). We stopped at the Ranger Station and were told that these otters showed up last year — possibly from the creek below the reservoir. They also said that they understood there were otters in the reservoir in the 1950s. Perhaps you could tell us more?
John Eaton & Beth Ferree

John & Beth:
Those river otters initially started out in the Sacramento (CA) River Delta, where there are LOTS of otters. They swam down the Sacramento River to where Pacheco Creek empties into the river at the base of the Benicia Bridge by Martinez, turned up Pacheco Creek and swam to where it turns into Walnut Creek. They continued on to where the creek branches into a multitude of little creeks that head off in all directions. These otters obviously followed the little creeks that eventually passed close by Lafayette Reservoir, where they crossed over to the reservoir.

Otters have used the same technique to get to Heather Pond in Walnut Creek, and Hidden Lakes in Martinez. A few beavers have also made that trip to the Walnut Creek area, where I know they cut down at least one little tree in the backyard of a very surprised homeowner. Clever creatures. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were otters in the reservoir in the 1950s. The river was there and the creeks were there, so the otters could have used them back then and probably even earlier. It should have been an easier trip back then because the area wasn’t nearly as urbanized as it is now. /Gary

Posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011
Under: Creeks, River otters | 2 Comments »

Let’s do it!

I need your help.

We must come up with $6,250 a week for the next eight weeks so the Muir Heritage Land Trust can raise $50,000 to support the process of opening the 700-acre Fernandez Ranch property to the public.

This beautiful historic ranch is the Trust’s most recent purchase. As responsible land stewards, they need to make the property safe so you can enjoy it. This means restoring eroded sections of Rodeo Creek, replacing a large bridge destroyed by flooding, and building a staging area to provide safe parking for visitors. Grant funding will hopefully pay for most of the big construction costs.

This process will take about two years to finish, but they can’t do anything until we raise the money to pay for their operation needs (day-to-day expenses) and help them get started.

The Fernandez Ranch is an extraordinary piece of West Contra Costa’s natural landscape, stretching from Alhambra Valley north to Highway 4, off Christie Road. You can see it when you drive from Martinez to Hercules along Highway 4, off to the left behind the Franklin Canyon Golf Course.

"We" is you, me, school kids, businesses, foundations — anyone who cares anything about preserving open spaces. No donation is too small (or too big!). Please send your tax-deductible donation to: Muir Heritage Land Trust, Fernandez Ranch Adventure, P.O. Box 2452, Martinez, CA 94553. Let’s do it!

Posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2006
Under: Creeks, Ecosystem, Open space | No Comments »

“The City Creeks Journal”

"The City Creeks Journal" is a unique introduction to the natural history of the creeks of Walnut Creek, Calif. It is a field guide AND a journal for recording your observations and sketches of the natural world.  This is a handy book for students and people who just care about our creeks. It features the section of Walnut Creek between Civic Park and the Iron Horse Corridor, introduces riparian communities as complex systems of beauty and great value to wildlife, and explains how they are impacted by urbanization.

Journals are on sale every Sunday at the Walnut Creek Farmer’s Market at Lincoln and Broadway. Cost is $10.95 (including tax). To order by mail, make checks payable to LifeGarden and send to: 860 Bellows Court, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-5867. Please include $3.50 for postage and handling.

The Journal is a collaboration between LifeGarden and Diablo Nature Adventures and was funded by a Walnut Creek Civic Pride Grant. Profits from Journal sales support watershed education and restoration programs of LifeGarden.

LifeGarden is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable land use through publications, classes, tours, and community projects. Diablo Nature Adventures offers field trips in Mt. Diablo State Park and other open space areas that enhance classroom curriculum in a variety of subject areas for students in grades 2-12.

Get more details from Judy Adler, 925-937-3044; e-mail:

Posted on Friday, January 27th, 2006
Under: Book Review, Creeks | 1 Comment »