An Assessment of a Small Urban Stream Restoration Project in Northern California


Address correspondence to Prof. V. H. Resh, ESPM/IB, 201 Wellman Hall, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720. E-mail:


Stream restoration projects have become increasingly common, and the need for systematic post-project evaluation, particularly for small-scale projects, is evident. This study describes how a 70-m restored reach of a small urban stream, Baxter Creek (in Poinsett Park, El Cerrito, California), was quickly and inexpensively evaluated using habitat, biological, and resident-attitude assessments. The restoration involved opening a previously culverted channel, planting riparian vegetation, and adding in-stream step-pool sequences and sinuosity. Replicated benthic macroinvertebrate samples from the restored site and an upstream unrestored site were compared using several metrics, including taxa richness and a biotic index. Both biological and habitat quality improved in the restored compared with the unrestored section. However, when compared with a creek restored 12 years before, habitat condition was of lower quality in the recently restored creek. A survey of the neighborhood residents indicated that, overall, they were pleased with the restored creek site. The approach used in this demonstration project may be applicable to other small-scale evaluations of urban stream restorations.