San Pedro Creek in drains Pacifica’s most extensive watershed. Clean water runs off the pristine slopes of Montara Mountain, creating ideal Steelhead Trout spawning habitat in on the middle and south forks. Fingerling Rainbow Trout still swim in the Sanchez fork behind , but it’s the neglected north fork that’s the creeks’ abused stepchild.
Paved over decades ago to build homes, streets and schools, a paradise for the Steelhead was reduced to a hidden network of concrete tunnels. The water now passes through miles of these tunnels before finally emerging amidst dirt and daylight in the dense thicket behind Park Mall, adjacent to the site of the proposed assisted living facility.
Recently, while Councilmember Mary Ann Nihart was given a tour of the area, a tremendous amount of litter and debris was found clogging the creek where it emerges from the tunnels. Matt McPhail, owner of nearby , offered to organize a cleanup with a group of kids from Team Gearhead.
So, on Saturday, Jan. 14, the kids arrived by car, bike, and unicycle, three even decking themselves out in full wetsuits, complete with abalone knives hanging from their belts. They quickly went to work, some scouring the creek for debris, others rigging up a rope system for pulling larger items up the steep bank. A few hours later, they had hauled up an impressive collection of junk, including a mattress, two shopping carts, an old car tire and ironically, a rusted bicycle. Any parent who knows what it’s like to get their kid to clean their room would have to be impressed at the effort these kids put into cleaning up a neglected waterway.
The north fork’s problems still remain, however, including unnaturally high water flows, erosion, and pollution from paint, oil, detergent and coliform bacteria, but on this day it was the beneficiary of an enthusiastic group of kids learning to care for the environment.