Carpinteria Creek Arundo Removal Project

Working with the County of Santa Barbara, Channel Islands Restoration supervised the removal of giant reed (Arundo donax) from a two-mile stretch of Carpinteria Creek. Since 2005, CIR removed 42 tons of Arundo from the creek.

Carpinteria Creek offers great potential for steelhead trout recovery. Unlike many other South Coast streams, its channel still runs freely under open spans (rather than through culverts). The upper reaches of the creek contain great fish habitat, and water flows year round through the urban reach of the creek. Along much of the creek, there is a tall native tree canopy that maintains the cool water that steelhead require. Because of these features, Carpinteria Creek may offer the best opportunity among all the urban streams in southern Santa Barbara County for restoring significant steelhead runs in the next few years.

The creek is under threat from non-native, invasive plants like Arundo donax.Arundo is an extremely fast-growing plant resembling bamboo. It can grow four inches a day, and up to 30 feet tall. It prefers moist conditions, and usually grows along streams and ditches. Today Arundo is aggressively invading our streams. It spreads quickly, even into thickly vegetated areas, and crowds out native plants.

Arundo affects riparian systems by growing aggressively into monocultural stands, displacing entirely the native riparian vegetation. Arundo chokes stream channels and creates debris dams that cause increased bank erosion and clogging of road culverts, impeding fish travel during storm flows. The high, straight stalks of Arundo provide little shade to the creek environment, while consuming large amounts of water compared to native plant species. Arundo has little or no value as food for local wildlife, or as nesting/roosting sites.