Brisbane waterway struggles: Watch group, city try to resolve maintenance issue

Publisher: San Mateo Daily News
Reporter: Christine Morente

Brisbane waterway struggles

Watch group, city try to resolve maintenance issue

By Christine Morente / Bay Area News Group
A Brisbane wetland oasis was mostly weed whacked away to Linda Salmon's dismay.

Her passion to save a waterway in the Crocker Park Industrial area almost got her arrested Wednesday when she screamed at a contractor, and tried to prevent workers from doing their job.
She stood her ground when Public Works Director Randy Breault showed up.

He called the police, and told her she had no right to stop the regularly scheduled maintenance project.

Salmon was not arrested but, despite her efforts, she saved less than one-third of the wetlands.

"It was total and complete wanton destruction," said the Brisbane resident, who took her 12-year-old grandson to the site to show him adult Pacific Chorus Frogs. "This is a living organism the crew just attacked."

City Manager Clay Holstine relented and said maintenance will be delayed until October.

He plans to meet with San Bruno Mountain Watch to come up with a schedule and a maintenance program that considers environmental and biodiversity issues.

Holstine said the area is cleared once per year to prevent flooding.
Jim McKissock of Earthcare said the site is a creek and is rich in rare botanicals that no longer exist anywhere else.

According to Salmon, fresh water from San Bruno Mountain feeds the creek home to Pacific Chorus Frogs.

Diminutive in size - but blessed with a booming croak - the amphibian is low in the food chain, but is sustenance for the red-legged frog and the San Francisco garter snake. Both are endangered species.

Breault disputes McKissock's and Salmon's opinions that the site is a creek.

"It's a V-ditch," Breault said, referring to a drainage channel. He said the water is from an adjacent building's sub-drain that discharges into the waterway.

McKissock said the only way the area can thrive is for the city to have a stewardship program where a handful of people can carefully maintain the spot throughout the year.

"By cutting it all down, you sterilize the creek," McKissock said. "You definitely kill the frogs. They don't have bugs to eat, no cover and where do they go?"

On Thursday, Breault consulted two environmental firms to come up with plans for the area.

One might include manually removing plants but leaving enough behind so the species have things to live off of, he said.

"That's a win-win," Breault said. "I'm not opposed to frogs. There are cute little green and brown frogs, and it's pleasant there, but we have to find some balance so the adjoining building doesn't flood."