Last winter I discussed the Cache Creek Parkway Plan and the Cache Creek Conservancy and Nature Preserve as parts of an effort to improve and expand habitat and public access along the reach of the creek between Roads 85 and 96B. I can now report on a second on-the-ground element of the nascent Parkway corridor, the Capay Open Space Park.
The Park is at the upstream end of the gravel-mining reach of the creek, just north of the town of Capay. With a half-million dollar grant from Proposition 13 (the River Parkways Act of 2004), the Yolo County Resource Conservation District and its partners are enhancing and expanding habitat features in the forty-acre parcel. This involves restoration of oak savannah and native streamside vegetation and improvements to the prairie/grassland, including plantings to support pollinators.
The work will cover over two thousand linear feet of creek and total about twelve acres of new plants. Because the site was used as a staging area for the nearby gravel mine, restoration has been challenging, and several innovative and unusual techniques have been used to establish native trees and shrubs.
As a County Park, the site already offers parking, water, toilets, and more than a mile of trails. It is free of charge and open 365 days a year, from dawn to dusk. Dusk is an attractive time for birders in spring, when the park is arguably the surest place in Yolo County to witness the courtship behavior of lesser nighthawks.
Beyond the habitat enhancement effort, various interpretive features and an outdoor education program are in the works. Project managers at the Yolo RCD and Cache Creek Conservancy welcome the involvement of local organizations and individuals in many aspects of the work. For example, they are hosting planting days on December 1 and 9, and January 12, from ten to noon.
Yolo Audubon signed on as a project partner at the outset. As it happens, the project leader at the RCD is a Yolo Audubon member, Tanya Meyer. To accommodate fellow members, Tanya will offer a Wednesday morning planting party on January 2, with a rain date of January 9. Details will be forthcoming in our next newsletter.
Michael Perrone, YAS Board