Even long-time Presidio visitors are surprised to learn about Dragonfly Creek, which flows through the Fort Scott District just south of the Presidio Nursery. Over many years this wetland zone was altered as the Army built barracks, homes, and warehouses in the area. Sections of creek were buried underground in culverts and invasive species chocked out native plants.
In recent years, recognizing the potential to restore rich habitat, the Presidio Trust, its partners, and volunteers have brought the creek back to life, bringing the flows above ground and replanting the site with seedlings grown just feet away at the Presidio Nursery. The work here is a prime example of a process called “daylighting,” which is also underway in the Tennessee Hollow Watershed. Daylighting consists of excavating fill, liberating creeks from culverts, and contouring the soil to create more natural, above-ground stream channels that support wildlife and enchant park visitors.
As the restoration effort draws to a close in early 2012, Dragonfly Creek is becoming the park’s latest natural refuge and a beautiful place to experience the benefits of habitat renewal first-hand.
Valuable Plant and Animal Habitat
Dragonfly Creek is one of the few remaining freshwater creeks in San Francisco, and supports an incredible diversity of plant and animal life:
- more than 30 species of birds, from woodpeckers to warblers
- two salamander species, the Monterey Ensatina and the California Slender Salamander
- red elderberry, whose berries ripen during nesting season and are an important food source for birds
- arroyo willows, California buckeye tree, Indian paintbrush, and Pacific cinquefoil
- a thriving population of insects and butterflies
- the elusive Presidio coyote
Restoration at Dragonfly Creek began in 2006. Over several years, about 100 thirsty eucalyptus trees were removed to increase water flows. Volunteers and park staff then pulled out duff and weeds to make way for native wetland species.
The effort took a major leap forward in 2011 when Caltrans began working with the Presidio Trust to restore and expand the creek’s wetlands to compensate for nearby construction at the Presidio Parkway. In this dramatic phase of restoration, Army fill was removed from a 400-foot area of creek corridor, widening the floodplain and allowing the creek water to flow more freely. Long-buried concrete building foundations, debris, and tree stumps have also been hauled away. As a result, a small thicket of willows that grows along the creek and is teeming with birds has expanded to four times its former size.
Volunteers have helped in every step of the restoration process at Dragonfly Creek, all the while learning from park staff about the incredible biological diversity of the area and how fulfilling it is to be a part of its conservation.
On December 3, 2011, the first big planting event of the season at Dragonfly Creek occurred. Community volunteers, AmeriCorps NCCC members, and park staff and interns came together reinvigorate Dragonfly Creek with a day of planting, gardening, and work at the Presidio Nursery. Learn how you can become a Presidio habitat restoration volunteer.