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Sacramento Area Creeks Council



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The Sacramento Area Creeks Council preserves, protects, restores and maintains the natural streams in our urban communities through education, advocacy, financial support and technical expertise. Our goal is to educate the general public on the aesthetic, recreational, educational, and ecological value of our urban creeks.

Anyone who values the Sacramento Valley watershed — including the natural creeks in our communities — and who would like to participate in the ever-challenging effort to preserve our region’s fragile — and vulnerable — creeks is invited to attend our monthly board meetings and consider becoming a member of the Sacramento Area Creeks Council. Donations are also welcome. Each donor will receive detailed information about ongoing events and activities supported by SACC. Sacramento Area Creeks Council is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Contributions are tax deductible. Fed. ID # 26-3676166 

We seek to promote public and private care of natural streams through education, advocacy and hands-on activity. Educational materials, workshops and field outings are some of the tools we use to achieve our goals. Others include:

  • Provide support for creek, open-space and neighborhood cleanups.
  • Participation in the decision-making processes that affect the health of area creeks.
  • Distribution of educational materials that encourage the teaching of science concepts.
  • Participation in the land use planning process to promote creek preservation, sound flood control project design, habitat restoration and effective stream bank stabilization methods.
  • Support of on-going volunteer water quality monitoring efforts.
  • Co-sponsoring of grants to preserve and restore creeks and their natural corridors.
  • Educational and community workshops on creek issues, such as the Aquatic Institute for teachers.

We offer educational materials and participate in neighborhood fairs and public events. We work with schools, neighborhoods, and youth groups to encourage creek clean ups and restoration. We cooperate with city and county efforts to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff and cooperate with other organizations to monitor development along stream corridors. Membership is open to all who want to participate.

Board meetings are generally held the third Monday of each month by Zoom. Please call (916) 454 – 4544 for specific meeting dates and times.

For more information about the Sacramento Area Creeks Council, its programs and how you can get involved:

Organization Documents


Tax Exempt Letter

Articles of Incorporation

Newsletter archives 2004 – 2012 This link will take you to our “Latest News” page. The newsletter archives link is in the right sidebar. This page also gives access to other archival information. This view into the past can be fun but the information here is not current. 

Board Members

Alta Tura, President: Alta has worked as a volunteer exclusively since her retirement as an elementary school teacher in 1995. She headed planning for the annual Creek Week which provided volunteers the opportunity to clean Sacramento County creeks of man-made garbage and invasive plants every spring. Alta is Secretary of the Laguna Creek Watershed Council, a nonprofit group whose mission is to protect and restore the many benefits Laguna Creek and neighboring waterways provide. Alta also serves on the Habitat 2020 committee. Updated 4-22-22

Gary Hare, Secretary: Gary is Field Manager and Project Director at hammerdirt California, a non profit that collects environmental data on trash in California waters. He is also Head Groundskeeper and Land Stewardship Coordinator for Soil Born Farms, a non profit organic farm and community education resource in Rancho Cordova. A resident along the American River Parkway for over 40 years, he is an angler, bird watcher and general contractor serving his community and environment through sustainable projects like routine trash surveys at the confluence of Cordova Creek and The American River. Updated 4-22-22

Steven K. Mayer, Vice President: Steven is the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Environmental Coordinator for the former McClellan AFB. Steve oversees all aspects of accelerated cleanup, program management, and disposal of all excess base property, the first privatized clean-up of a Superfund site in the nation. Steve leads the Creek Week volunteer clean-up at McClellan. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Geological Engineering from the University of Minnesota and is a Registered Professional Civil Engineer in the State of California.

Chad Rinde, Treasurer: Chad is a graduate of CSUS. As President of the CSUS Accounting Club, Chad was a site leader for the Cal Expo Creek Week clean-up site. He also enjoyed leading river rafting trips during that time. He is now busy with his career and raising a family, but continues his involvement with Sacramento Area Creeks Council by serving as Treasurer.

Mark Baker: Mark is fifth generation Californian born and raised in Sacramento. He is a long time building contractor specializing in kitchens and bathrooms and sets and displays. He spent his summers for 30 years building displays at Cal Expo for the CA State Fair, having built over 300 county displays. Mark has lived near and played his entire life along the American River. In 2020, during COVID, he decided
to spend his summer vacation at Sutter’s Landing. Since then he has spent
nearly all of his time cleaning and enjoying the parkway. He is a cofounder of River City Waterway Alliance. Updated 3-21-2023

David Ingram: David Ingram is a graduate of UC Davis and McGeorge School of Law and operates a small law firm in midtown Sacramento. David grew up fly fishing with his grandfather around Sierra City, at the base of the Sierra Buttes. These experiences instilled a deep respect for natural areas and wildlife and the associated desire to preserve and protect them. David began cleaning up near his home on the Sacramento River around 2003, a habit that grew as trash increased. After connecting with several river and creek stewards in 2021, his focus and commitment expanded substantially. More recently, David co-founded River City Waterway Alliance to advance his passion for restoring and protecting local area waterways and riparian habitats.

Ed Clark: A graduate of California Polytechnic University Pomona in Behavioral Science. A Certified California Naturalist, President of the Dry Creek Conservancy. A member of the Sierra Club and the Nature Conservatory. Ed has been active in the Sacramento Area Creeks Council for over 10 years.

Kathleen (Kathy) Stricklin: Kathy was raised in a home nurtured by love, environmentalism and labor, and is dedicated to service. She is serving her third elected term (first elected in 2012) to the board of Fulton El Camino Recreation and Park District. In 2018, Kathy built teams of volunteers to serve the unhoused in Arden Arcade and Carmichael as Mercy Pedaler’s. In 2019, Kathy co-founded Arden Arcade HART (Homeless Assistance Resource Team). She is founder and research historian for the communities of Arden Arcade and Carmichael, and is working on the written history of the former. In 2021 she joined the Sacramento Area Creeks Council, and in April of 2022 joined the board. In July of 2022, Kathy was accepted to a three year term at the Sacramento County Carbon Neutral Task Force with special emphasis on the county’s 4 environmental justice communities. Updated 7-19-2022 

Bill Templin: Bill is a retired Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Water Resources and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. Previously Bill had a 30- year career with the Federal government (U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Forest Service)  He served as Watershed Coordinator for the North Fork American River Watershed from June 2004 until October 2007, then began his State career. Bill is actively involved as a Board Member on several non-profit watershed and sportsmen’s organizations in the Sacramento and Fresno areas.   Updated 2-04-2020


  • Attendance at monthly board meetings
  • Participation in at least one existing program:
  • Oversight of creek clean-ups – planning and execution
  • Education/Outreach, i.e. Exhibit, intern management
  • Commenting on development issues
  • Watershed group participation and/or
  • Participation in the planning and development of one new project or program (optional)
  • Adopt-a-Creek to facilitate regular volunteer cleanups of local waterways
  • Stream restoration
  • Fundraising
  • Other

A loyal board and planning committee worked for 30 years to make Creek Week one of our region’s premier volunteer stewardship events. Several members are preparing to retire over the next few years. The Creeks Council is transitioning away from a main mission devoted to organizing Creek Week. The focus of our organization is now on conducting and supporting regular year-round clean-up efforts. Individuals, service groups, churches, neighborhood groups, etc. are encouraged to conduct clean-ups. We seek new leaders who want to build on this new focus and shape its future.

Would you consider being a Sacramento Area Creeks Council board member?

Your skills and talents and connections can be used to our advantage.

We meet on the third Monday (fourth Monday if holiday) every month but July and August.

All are welcome to attend our board meetings and learn more about what we do.

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Egret at William Pond

Creek Week

Creek Week, a 30-year tradition in Sacramento County, has been re-envisioned – Now Creek Week can be any week!

Volunteers continue to help our creeks by working on their own or joining other community efforts.

Neighborhoods, creeks, and parks are potential opportunities for Random Acts of Clean-up  

Visit our Creek Week website to see the clean-up resources we can provide to help support your clean-up effort.

Creekweek 2020 poster_final (1)

Creek Week 2020 summary

Creek Week typically began with the Splash Off.  During this event, the Creek Steward Award was presented to a program in recognition of their actions that have benefited our local creeks and environment.  In addition, all sponsors were publicly recognized for their contributions to Creek Week.

In past years, activities during the days leading up to the clean-up consisted of a variety of nature tours showcasing creeks.  Adults and children learned about the importance of plants and animals inhabiting our creeks and creek corridors and their important roles in the ecosystem.

Creek Week always culminated on a Saturday, with up to 2,000 volunteers joining to clear trash from more than 80 different creek sites in Sacramento County.  Some volunteers chose to do water quality testing at their clean-up site. Volunteers at some sites removed invasive non-native plants that overpower native plants and choke our local waterways.  Clean-up activities help maintain or improve the riparian habitat along many stream and creek corridors, provide opportunities to connect people to their natural environment, increase awareness of the need for water conservation and reduce flood risk.  The clean-up was followed by a celebration at Carmichael Park – complete with food, entertainment, interactive exhibits and contests.

Get Involved


Know Your Creeks




Related Web Sites
Laguna Creek Watershed Council
Effie Yeaw Nature Center
Arcade Creek Project
Stop The Clog
Sacramento Area Sewer Dist
Sacramento County Current Creek Levels
Cosumnes River Preserve
Dry Creek Conservancy
Arcade Creek Recreation and Park
City of Sacramento Parks and Recreation
The Natural Resource Projects Inventory
The California Biodiversity Council
Information Center for the Environment
SOS Cranes
Sacramento Audubon Society
Friends of Swainson’s Hawk
Save the American River Association
American River Parkway Foundation
Sac-Sierra Trout Unlimited
Upper American River Foundation

Municipal Web Sites
City of Sacramento Stormwater Quality – Utilities
City of Sacramento Stormwater Drainage
City of Folsom
City of Citrus Heights
City of Elk Grove
City of Roseville

Sacramento County Websites
Sacramento CountyCounty Stormwater Utility (drainage)
Stormwater Quality Program
Commercial/Industrial Stormwater Compliance Program
Environmental Management Department
Planning and Environmental Review State WebsitesCalifornia Salmonid Stream Habitat Restoration Manual  


Protecting Creeks

Creek channels in metropolitan areas of Sacramento County are periodically cleaned by the County Department of Water Resources Drainage Section. But it is the responsibility of each property owner to keep creeks and their borders free of debris that could clog the channel, causing local flooding and endangering the surrounding area.


Any material dumped into a storm drain goes directly into a creek and into a river…the source of our drinking water.

  • Dumping of refuse fills our creeks with trash that clogs channels and creates local flooding.
  • Improper use & disposal of chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, oil and paints, polutes the water, destroying plants and endangering wildlife.
  • Sewer backups and overflows can be unsanitary and harmful to local waterways. For information about how you can prevent sewer back-ups visit:
    Stop the Clog or Sacramento Area Sewer District
  • Erosion of stream banks means loss of valuable trees and habitat.


Never use a storm drain as a dump for any kind of waste.

  • Use your refuse collection service for trash and those garden clippings that cannot be composted, keeping such debris out of our waterways.
  • Dispose of any chemical, oil, paint or other toxic material at authorized disposal sites. The County Hazardous Materials Division and the City Solid Waste Division collect recyclable and toxic household waste. The collection events are held regularly, and are free to Sacramento residents.
  • Minimize your use of Diasanon and other pesticides. Ask your nursery about biological alternatives.
  • Protect native stream-side vegetation to help prevent bank erosion.

For information call: County Department of Water Resources: 916 875-7246

  • A clean, free-flowing stream adds value to property and homes.
  • Stream-side vegetation provides attractive green space in a neighborhood.
  • Stream corridors are ribbons of green that provide a healthy habitat for wildlife.
  • Clean channels carry storm water safely to the rivers.
  • Flowing water and stream-side trees help moderate the valley’s temperature.
  • Creeks are natural play areas for children…and a place to learn to value living things.
  • Creeks offer quiet retreats for all ages away from noise and traffic.
  • Creek trails can provide biking, walking and jogging routes away from hazardous roadways.


For Safe Disposal of Oil, Toxics and Pesticides:
Sacramento County Hazardous Waste 916 379-0500
City of Folsom 355-7272

To Report Obstructions and Toxic Spills in Channels call 311 or:
Sacramento County Drainage Maintenance 916 875-5171
City of Citrus Heights 916 727-4770
City of Folsom 916 355-7272

To Report Illegal Dumping call 311 or:
City of Sacramento 916 264-5948
City of Citrus Heights 916 727-4770
City of Folsom 916 355-7229
County of Sacramento 916 874-8024

Water Wise Pest Control Program 916 443-6369


The County drainage ordinance prohibits the placing of any obstruction in a floodway including buildings, fill, or fencing. Dumping of waste, trash, or debris in a waterway is also prohibited.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife requires a permit to work in a stream bed — for the purpose of protecting aquatic life. For general information: 916 445-0411.

The Army Corps of Engineers requires a permit for any work that alters a stream channel — for the purpose of protecting wetlands. For information: 916 557-5250.


Using Creeks to Bring Science Lessons to Life!

Creeks naturally attract children of all ages. They are just about the right size body of water for easy exploration. With flowing water, wooded banks, a variety of wildlife – combined with a ready-made fascination – local creeks are an ideal resource for teaching science concepts.

Using creeks as outdoor classrooms provides concrete associations between students and their natural world. Understanding how human activities alter our environment in positive and negative ways allows students to become informed participants in their own futures. According to the State of California Department of Education, “research shows that environment-based education improves students’ academic performance and test scores, reduces discipline and attendance problems, and increases their ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts.”

Dipping Into Creeks is a packet of materials designed to provide the information and tools a teacher or youth leader needs to teach science concepts using creeks and creek habitat. The curriculum is full of projects and activities for grades 1-8, and correlates with the State of California Education Standards. Nature, science, biology, physical sciences, land use, ecology, conservation and natural resources are covered. Each packet includes:

  • Creek Activities – using creeks to bring science lessons to life
  • Adopt a Creek – caring for a creek
  • Quick and Easy Mini-activities – a variety of ways to learn and have fun at creeks or in the classroom
  • In-depth Study Activities – Aquatic sciences and water quality stations
  • Creek Life and Creek Ecology – a 60-page booklet for understanding creek ecosystems
  • Glossary and Vocabulary – helpful words and concepts to review before you begin
  • Other resources – a list of other opportunities

Download Dipping Into Creeks pdf and Dipping Into Creeks Table of Contents.                                     The Dipping Into Creeks curriculum is also available at saccreeks@gmail.com or 916 454-4544. The cost is $20.00. Add $5.00 for shipping and handling.

Creek Life & Creek Ecology – A Quick Guide presents the most common aquatic life and creekside residents that make up a typical Central Valley creek community. Line drawings accompany descriptions of plants and animals. This 60 page Quick Guide is available at saccreeks@gmail.com or 916 454-4544. The cost is $5.50. Add $.50 for shipping and handling. Download Creek Life & Creek Ecology – A Quick Guide

Dip Kits contain the equipment necessary for engaging the students in the learning activities presented in “Dipping Into Creeks.” Kits may be borrowed by contacting SACC at 916-454-4544 or saccreeks@gmail.com.

The kits contain dip nets and buckets for collecting; hand magnifiers and viewing pans for observing small aquatic life; rulers, string, clipboards and pencils for measuring, calculating and recording observations; books and reference material; and more.

There is a $20.00 fee for use of the kit. A $100.00 deposit will be returned when the kit is brought back and all supplies are checked in. Dip Kit contents

 Creek Map Dipping Into Creeks http://eol.org/ Creek Life – A Quick Guide More information on our Mini Grants Page.

In Sacramento, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center will be happy to offer a program for your classroom. You may contact them at 489-4918. There is a program fee.

Dipping Into Creeks Curriculum

Teachers are welcome to use our Mini Curriculum and extend classroom learning to the creek.

The curriculum is full of projects and activities for grades 1 through 8. Nature, science, biology, physical sciences, land use, ecology, conservation and natural resources are covered.

Download the curriculum pdf

Dipping Into Creeks – Table of contents

Dipping Into Creeks – Cover

Also available at saccreeks@gmail.com or 916 454-4544. The cost is $20.00. Add $5.00 for shipping and handling.

Mini Grants

Thanks to the generosity of Creek Week sponsors, SACC is able to offer grants of up to $500 to help teachers use a local creek as an outdoor classroom or otherwise integrate creek studies into the curriculum.


Why Teach Children About Creeks?
Creeks naturally attract children of all ages. They are just about the right size body of water for easy exploration. With flowing water, wooded banks, a variety of wildlife – combined with a ready-made fascination – local creeks are an ideal resource for teaching science concepts.

Using creeks as outdoor classrooms provides concrete associations between students and their natural world. Understanding how human activities alter our environment in positive and negative ways allows students to become informed participants in their own futures. According to the State of California Department of Education, “research shows that environment-based education improves students’ academic performance and test scores, reduces discipline and attendance problems, and increases their ability to transfer knowledge to new contexts.”

Purpose of Sacramento Area Creeks Council (SACC) Mini-grant Program
The purpose of the mini-grant program is to encourage teachers to educate students about their local creeks and the many benefits they provide, including abundant aesthetic, recreational and ecological values. It also provides incentive to give students an outdoors, hands-on experience that takes their learning to a more concrete and meaningful level.

Know Your Creeks

Browse through this section to find a Sacramento County creek map, various documents containing information about local creeks, and a comprehensive article written by Rick Bettis that provides a historical view of our area creeks.You may notice an emphasis on Arcade Creek. Sacramento Area Creeks Council was formed in 1990 because of concern for the health of Arcade Creek.

Renfree Field, Termination of Agreement with SIBA, August 2018

April 29, 2017 Soil Conservation Project at Arcade Creek near Horsemen’s Association

California Salmonid Stream Habitat Restoration Manual

This mitigation project for the Rosevile Rd Bridge replacement was well designed and implemented, and it’s something for which the City of Sacramento could be proud. As we plan future mitigation and restoration projects along Arcade Creek, we should use this document as a guide. (Completed in 2016)

Arcade Creek’s riparian tree canopy change over eight decades – Read the abstract for this article

Creeks in Sacramento County – Map

SAFCA Levee Projects At the July 18, 2013 Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) Board meeting, flood agency staff and its consultants provided a status update on the Sacramento and American River levee systems. The third map highlights SAFCA’s habitat restoration and conservation strategies for the levee work done on Dry and Arcade Creeks.

Del Paso Regional Park Resource Page This Sacramento City Parks web page is meant to be used as a centralized location where members of the public, agencies, scientists, journalists, cross-country running teams, and other parties can access information about the history, stewardship, and maintenance of Del Paso Regional Park.

2007 Arcade Creek Corridor Conditions and Assessment Maps, photos, charts, cross sections of the 16-mile long Creek which flows through the cities of Sacramento and Citrus Heights. Arcade Creek’s headwaters are located near
Greenback Lane in Orangevale and the mouth is located at the confluence with Steelhead Creek. Arcade Creek drains a 38-square mile watershed.

  1. Steelhead Creek Clean-up Using Draft Horses – Steelhed Crk draft horse CU Regional San Final Report 2021.11.29 November 2021

Steelhead Creek Clean-up Using Draft Horses 2021 08 25 Watch a video  Another video

Sacramento’s Creeks & Sloughs – A Brief Overview with Historical Vignettes
by Rick Bettis, March 8th, 1998

Due to its unique location and topography, the Sacramento area has many creeks and sloughs. Sacramento is located near the base of the Sierra with a rolling terrain that results in numerous watersheds. As it approaches the confluence of the American and Sacramento Rivers, the topography becomes quite flat, characterized by meandering sloughs, wetlands and shallow lakes. There are now more than forty named creeks and sloughs in the county. However, many have been altered and some completely lost.

For centuries the native people, the Nisenan, or Southern Maidu, lived in this area, peacefully and productively coexisting with the natural environment of which the creeks and sloughs were an important part. They used the plants, mammals, fish and birds found along these waterways for shelter, tools, food, and medicine. However, they did not harvest these resources to an extent that resulted in permanent loss. They practiced a sustainable lifestyle long before such a term was coined. For example, they gathered the acorns of the California Oaks as the primary staple of their diet. They also harvested the rapidly regrowing willows for use in building shelters, making baskets and producing a medicinal tea. It was centuries later that salicylic acid that is derived from willow was “discovered” by the founder of the Bayer company for use as the active ingredient in aspirin.

This benign and sustainable lifestyle changed with the arrival of eastern and foreign immigrants. Early settlers such as Captain John Sutter did not substantially alter the creeks and sloughs although their farming practices did have some impact. The major effects on this natural world started with the discovery of gold and the period when the “world rushed in”. In the early years there was a true zest for battling nature. A February 1, 1867 editorial in the Bee stated that “…it is not the object of engineering to locate your strong works in the place of safety but to locate them where the danger is to be combated …”

Arcade Creek

Historically, Arcade Creek flowed through a large wetland and then to Bush Lake. It has been cut off by the Natomas East Main Drainage Canal (NEMDC) and has been channelized through the North Sacramento area. With the exception of Del Paso Park its watershed is mostly developed and there have been many local alterations in its upper reaches.

Arcade Creek plays a significant, albeit passive, role in California’s development. It is crossed by the first transcontinental railroad. Based on its desire to “unite the Union” during the Civil War, the federal government passed the Railroad Act of 1861 which authorized the two competing railroad companies, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific, a reward or subsidy for each mile completed. For the Central Pacific, CPRR the amounts were $48,000 per mile in the Sierra, and $16,000 for other terrain. Theodore Judah, CPRR Chief Engineer, had designated Newcastle, 31 miles east of the beginning of the railroad as the base of the Sierra. However, Charles Crocker, of the “Big Four” CPRR partners was able to convince Josiah Whitney (for whom the mountain is named) Chief of the California Geologic Survey, to recommend that Arcade Creek located seven miles from the start of the line be declared the base of the Sierra. This proposal generated controversy and accusations of fraud, but it was finally approved by President Lincoln, based on the government’s desire to expedite completion of the railroad.

The headquarters of the vast, 44,000 acre Del Paso Ranch was located at “the Arcade” near the creek. The ranch, controlled by the lawyer-land baron, Ben Ali Haggin, featured the nation’s finest thoroughbreds during the late 19th century.

Bannon Slough

This slough once conveyed flows from the Bush (or Lower American) Lake in the American Basin (Natomas) to the Sacramento River. The first Bannon Slough has been mostly filled. However a small remnant remains in the Bannon Creek Parkway in South Natomas. The second Bannon Slough has been channelized and replaced by the Natomas Main Drainage Canal operated by Reclamation District 1000.

The American Basin was reclaimed in the 1910-1915 period by the Natomas Company. The Company had obtained the land from the State for a one dollar per acre fee that could be used to help pay for reclamation costs in accordance with a 1861 Tate law. The State in turn had been granted these “swamp and overflowed” lands by the federal government in accordance with the Arkansas Act of 1850 that required the State to take actions to reclaim these lands for “productive” agricultural uses. The basin, a vast 58,000 acre wetland area with lakes and marshes, became “Swamp and Overflowed Land District No. 1” in California.

Sutter Slough

This was a significant waterway that was located south of and parallel to the American River for nearly 15 miles between Mather and its terminus at Sutter (or China) Lake at the confluence of the rivers where the railroad depot is now located. As with other similar sloughs, it was filled as the area urbanized. Its drainage function has been replaced by underground storm drains.

Burns Slough

This historic slough came off the American River at the present CSUS campus and flowed west and south through midtown to a wetland area at the present site of Land Park, and eventually to the Beach-Stone Lakes and Snodgrass Slough area in the south county. The slough was the path of major flood events that overtopped the American River. As the city grew in the 1860s-1870s Burns Slough was diverted to the east. It was eventually filled and replaced by constructed plank wall open ditches and finally, beginning in the 1878, by a system of brick underground combined storm drains and sewers. The final route of the slough was down Alhambra Boulevard where it was replaced by a large underground combined drain and sewer.

The ponds in McKinley Park and Sutter’s Fort are remnants of the original slough. In the early 1890s, McKinley Park (then called East Park) was owned by the Sacramento Electric Railway Company and was the terminus of a trolley line. As part of their development of the park, the company adopted a plan to plant willows along the slough. This may have been the first natural stream “restoration” project in the area.

Chicken Ranch and Strong Ranch Sloughs

These two sloughs, along with several other smaller ones, terminated in a large wetland area located on and adjacent to the present Cal Expo grounds. This runoff then flowed to Bushy Lake and the American River. These sloughs have been filled or channelized for approximately five miles each.

Dry Creek

The Dry Creek of the Natomas area has the largest (114 square miles) watershed of any creek whose downstream channel is within the County. It is exceeded only by the second Dry Creek near Galt (329 square miles) which serves as the boundary with San Joaquin County. Dry Creek originally flowed into Bush (later called American) Lake in the Natomas area. It was cut off by the Natomas East Main Drainage Canal (NEMDC) and levee which were constructed around 1914-15. Dry Creek is noteworthy for having the only documented salmon run of any of the area’s creeks. These runs occurred both before and after construction of the East Main Drain. The creek also has the first and only dam on a local creek. The small dam located in the Rio Linda’s Central Park was constructed by the Whipple family in 1929 to divert irrigation water. It is still in use.

Magpie Creek

This creek was also cut off from Bush Lake by the NEMDC. It has been altered and diverted in the upstream Robla, McClellan and North Highlands areas.

Morrison Creek Stream Group

Morrison Creek and its tributaries: Florin, Elder, Union House (Beacon), Strawberry, Laguna and Elk Grove Creeks have been extensively relocated and channelized as a result of urban development. The modification ranges from their downstream end to as far east as Mather Field. These streams were first impacted by farming, starting in the late 19th century when the native grasslands and sparse riparian vegetation were displaced by crops, pasture, and invasive non-native grasses and weeds. The first major relocation of Morrison Creek occurred with the construction of the Sacramento Army Depot in 1945.

Although channelization and filling of streams has continued based on economic, public safety and disruption considerations, there have been attempts to recognize the aesthetic and natural values of creeks.

In addition to the Burns Slough plan discussed above, the city in 1915 adopted a “Master Plan for a Park System”. This plan prepared by a noted Cambridge, Massachusetts planner, included parkway on both the American and Sacramento Rivers and on the major creeks. These include Arcade, Morrison, and Elder Creek and the Mungers Lake (now Reichmuth Park, that linked the Elder Creek Parkway to the Sacramento Parkway at the southern limit of the city as planned at that time. Of course the “master plan” was not fully implemented. The only element that was implemented was Del Paso Park. After Folsom Dam was constructed in 1957, the American River Parkway finally was created and preserved land in this riparian corridor as open space. The City of Sacramento is making slow but steady progress to create a scaled-down Sacramento River Parkway south of Miller Park. In Reichmuth Park we have a smaller version of the proposed Munger Lake Parkway.

The channelization, relocation and filling of natural streams continued until the early 1970’s when strong public interest, spearheaded by the Friends of Chicken Ranch Slough, led to the formation of a broadly based Natural Streams Task Force in 1972. As a result of the work of the Task Force the County adopted a Natural Streams Plan in 1980 which calls for the protection of the natural amenities of selected creeks. The  County General Plan as adopted in 1992 included elements and policies that call for the protection and restoration of the natural, aesthetic and habitat values of our streams.

Continuing the movement towards preservation of our urban creeks, a group of volunteers from throughout the community, in 1987, formed the Sacramento Chapter of the Urban Creeks Council, a statewide organization. It subsequently became the Sacamento Area Creeks Council, and its mission remains to promote preservation and protection of our urban creeks through public education and advocacy. In its early days, the chapter volunteers accomplished:

  • Through a California Department of Education grant, developed a creek curriculum for elementary grades, now distributed statewide.
  • Developed and distributed publications encouraging the community to learn about and care for creeks.
  • Helped promote the city and county’s storm drain stenciling program to alert residents to the fact that water entering a storm drain goes to the creeks and rivers, not to a waste water facility.
  • Received a grant to administer a volunteer water quality monitoring program involving adults and high school youth.
  • Cosponsored an Aquatic institute at CSUS to provide educators with a variety of educational tools relating to waterways and water quality.
  • Joined with other organizations to advocate for the preservation of open space and protection of our remaining creeks and sloughs.

Beginning in 1990 the Chapter sponsored Creek Week which included field trips, seminars and demonstrations, capped with a county-wide creek cleanup. This event involved about two thousand people yearly. With financial support from many organizations and businesses and help from the city and county, creek volunteers have removed tons of trash from our waterways and have become personally committed to caring for our creeks.

Bits and pieces from a Science Center Publication of 1984, and other memories.

Salmon and Steelhead Observed in Arcade Creek

Arcade Creek Management Plan 2003 This plan contains information about the creek’s conditions in 2003. It identifies key watershed management issues and outlines watershed enhancement strategies in the areas of flood protection, water quality, habitat and recreation.

Creek Corridor Trail Project  Feasibility Report  (Accepted by the Citrus Heights City Council on March 27, 2014) This report takes a comprehensive approach to potential trail locations. Contains detailed segment descriptions of the feasibility of constructing trails along Arcade, Brooktree and Cripple Creeks in Citrus Heights.

Arcade Creek has the largest drainage basin of all the local streams. It is 16.2 miles long and its basin area is about 19,000 acres or 29.7 square miles. It flows from Orangevale, northeast of Greenback Lane and Kenneth Avenue to the Sacramento River via the Natomas East Main Drainage Canal.

The creek is still partially bordered with blue interior and valley oaks. There are scattered places with Fremont Cottonwood, small willows and Oregon Ash. Because of the natural and open spaces, native vegetation in some areas persists, providing habitat for wildlife. Once this habitat was abundant; today it is quickly vanishing because of bordering land development.

Long ago, 6000-3000 BC, people of the Early Horizon period came to live near Arcade Creek and its surrounding area. These were the seed gatherers. At a mound site near the Science Center, now the Discovery Museum Learning Center, erosion of the creek revealed an artifact-bearing layer under 9 feet of soil. Seventy five pieces were recovered which included cores and flakes of handstones, mortar and pestles, cobble-choppers, hammer-stones and projectile points. This site is classified as one of the most important in the United States.

Evidence of native peoples has also been found along this park section of Arcade Creek. As excavation took place for swimming pools in Cameron Ranch, some artifacts were recovered. There was a sweat house at the intersection of Walnut and Winding Way, one reason there might be so many buckeye trees there.

About 3000 years ago the Maidu, or Southern Nisenan settled in this area. Early man found the creek water clean and full of fish, and the surrounding plants were a good source for seed eating. The oak trees provided the staple acorn, and small game provided a bounty of food. Women often used digging sticks to gather bulbs – a habit which gave rise to the name Digger Indians – now recognized as a derogatory term.

During the 1800s, Arcade Creek was included in some of the northernmost Mexican land grants in California. Governor Manuel Micheltorena, Captain John Sutter’s old friend, gave 44,000 acres to Elijah Grimes. Grimes called it the Rancho del Paso because it was on the road to the pass of the American River through the Sierra. With the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad, Arcade Creek became a central focal point and even acquired national fame. To build a railway through the mountains was more difficult and more expensive than over the Sacramento Valley plain. Thus when the Pacific Railroad Act was revised on July 2nd, 1864, the subsidy was adjusted. The Central Pacific would receive $16,000 for each mile built in the valley and $48,000 for each mile of the estimated 150 miles of rugged mountain terrain separating California from Nevada.

Charles Crocker, supervisor of the actual construction, took the first State Geologist, Josiah Whitney, for a long ride along Arcade Creek. It was here, seven miles from Sacramento, that Crocker showed him engineer Theodore Judah’s chart which showed a gentle rise from the creek area to the peaks of the Sierra. Crocker asked Whitney where the beginning of the mountains should be located. Whitney replied, “Well, the true base is the Sacramento River, but for the purpose of this bill, Arcade Creek is as fair a place as any.”

In Washington DC, A. A. Sergeant, the Central Pacific’s ambassador showed a geological map to the House of Representatives. It showed the east bank of Arcade Creek as mostly composed of red podzolic earth like that of the Sierra. On the opposite bank, it showed the dark soil of the Sacramento River flood plain.

President Lincoln signed the bill increasing the subsidy giving the “Big Four”, Crocker, Standford, Huntington and Hopkins, an increase of $470,000 profit. Lincoln was surely aware that the Sierra did not start at Haggin Oaks golf course, but he was wise enough to know what linking California’s riches to the east would mean to the government during the Civil War. Getting the railroad built was the motivating factor.

In the early 1900s, salmon came to spawn in Arcade Creek. There were still swimming holes 6-7 feet deep in the 1950s. Today, Arcade Creek is a very different place. Water flowing into the creek from storm drains causes the creek to swell and flood in the winter and to hold many gallons of street gutter run off water in the summer. But along the creek’s banks and in the high branches of the oaks and other trees, wildlife still finds a home. Also these green spaces offer neighbors a peaceful retreat and a pleasant place for quiet recreation.

See the links below to delve deeper into the history of Arcade Creek

Some maps from the early 1900’s

Rancho Del Paso – 1862 to 1910  A one-page article by Cheryl Anne Stapp

North Sacramento by V. Ehrenreich-Risner. A book available for purchase, includes pictures of creekside huts, and remnants of villages where indigenous people once lived. The remains were present as late as the 1920s, or so.

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Donations can be sent to:

Sacramento Area Creeks Council
PO Box 162774
Sacramento, CA 95816

Email: saccreeks@gmail.com


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Sacramento Area Creeks Council, PO Box 162774, Sacramento CA 95816 phone: 916/454-4544 email: saccreeks@gmail.com

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