Strawberry Creek on the University of California, Berkeley Campus: A case history of urban stream restoration


Strawberry Creek is the major focus of open space on the University of California, Berkeley (Alameda County, California, USA) campus; it provides visual amenity and variety, riparian and wildlife habitat, and educational and recreational opportunities.

Since the beginning of this century, urbanization of the catchment, channel alteration and water quality degradation combined to cause deterioration of the creek’s habitat and overall environmental quality; this was manifested by a marked absence of flora and fauna, obvious water pollution and severe erosion.

In 1987 a restoration project was undertaken that focused on water-pollution and erosioncontrol measures. In 1989, native three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) were successfully reintroduced. Family Biotic Index scores for the macroinvertebrate community indicated a change from the ‘poor’ water quality conditions in 1986 to ‘good’ water quality in 1991.

Environmental education programmes now involve over 1500 students who use the creek each year in laboratory exercises; a popular natural history and conservation walking-tour guidebook has also been prepared.

On-going restoration efforts include additional reintroductions of other native species, further environmental education efforts and monitoring.

Obstacles and key factors that led to the successful implementation of this project are presented to assist in implementing similar ecological restoration projects of urban streams.

Robert Charbonneau
Vincent H. Resh
Publication date: 
January 31, 1992
Publication type: