Miller Creek Watershed Stewards
Status Report
September 2017

Marin County Fish and Wildlife Commission Grants:

In May of 2015, the Miller Creek Watershed Stewards applied for a grant from the Marin County Fish and Wildlife Commission to facilitate the Dixie Outdoor Classroom (DOC) project led by Debra DiBenedetto, Second Grade teacher at Dixie Elementary School. The Commission awarded the DOC $4,340.00 in September 2015. With this money, the DOC purchased gardening tools, wagon/cart, jute netting, gloves, (4) wood benches, (2) sheds and numerous native plants, etc.

With the assistance of numerous parents, 2nd grade students, volunteers and Miller Creek Watershed Stewards, the area was cleared of dead trees, African Blackberry bramble and non-native plants. Subsequently jute netting was laid and the area was seeded with grass and native plants were placed around the grounds of the classroom. Benches were assembled and placed in the classroom area for student seating during class time. 

In September 2016, a subsequent request for funds was submitted to the Marin County Fish and Wildlife Commission for the DOC and was awarded $2,909.00. With these funds, the DOC purchased additional native plants, irrigation pipes and Driwater gel packs.

In September 2017, a subsequent request for funds was submitted to the Marin County Fish and Wildlife Commission for the DOC and was awarded $3,057.00. The DOC requested funds for additional tools, wood for a platform, rain barrels, and chicken wire with bamboo stakes to protect the native plants from the animals.


Kelly’s Wishes (Marinwood Lions Club) Grant:

In December 2015, the Kelly’s Wishes Foundation awarded the DOC a $1,000.00 grant to construct and install (9) signposts along the path leading to the DOC. These sign posts identify the native plants that have been planted by the DOC students and volunteers.


County of Marin Community Service Funds Program Grant:

In June 2017, the County of Marin Board of Supervisors awarded $1,500.00 to the DOC to replace the (2) sheds that had been vandalized over the 2015 school holiday. With these funds, the DOC purchased (1) larger and sturdier shed from Tuff Shed.

With the funds provided to the Dixie Outdoor Classroom through the Miller Creek Watershed Stewards with the Gallinas Watershed Council providing the 501 (C) 3 status through the MarinLink, Debra DiBenedetto’s 2nd Grade Class can now pursue learning about creek restoration and native plant propagation.

The success of this program can be heard as the students run onto the DOC grounds hollering with delight when they see that their efforts have produced blossoms and new growth.


Community Action:

Miller Creek Maintenance mitigation:

Miller Creek Watershed Stewards has negotiated with Miller Creek neighbors; Bene’ da Silva, Flood Control & Water Resources; Sarah Philips, Urban Streams Program Manager\, Marin Resource Conservation District; and Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors to mitigate the clearing of Miller Creek. The mitigation resulted in the assistance of the Flood Control & Water Resources to clear the debris and some dead trees from the Dixie Outdoor Classroom. Both Bene’ da Silva and Sarah Philips volunteered to assist during a work day at the DOC.  



Marinwood CSD Maintenance Shed

The Marinwood Community Services District has a maintenance shed that needs to be replaced. It is sitting on the edge of Miller Creek and is in great disrepair. During the winter rains, a drainage ditch runs water through the maintenance shed before falling into Miller Creek. This drains the shed’s debris into the creek.

The CSD would like to replace the shed. The Miller Creek Watershed Stewards has presented to the Marinwood CSD Board of Directors their support to replace the shed with a new facility further away from Miller Creek. The Marinwood CSD is preparing a request for funding from the County of Marin.

Following is the text from the Marinwood CSD Park Maintenance Facility Replacement Initiative

“As the years have progressed, the maintenance facility has severely deteriorated. The roof is tarped seasonally and during heavy rains the interior floods, rendering the facility unsafe and unusable. Yet it continues to be relied upon to the best of its rapidly degrading functionality as the District has no other such facility. All the while the structure becomes more unstable, less sound and a growing safety risk to our dedicated staff, the public and the environment. The current park maintenance facility has long outlived its useful life and must be replaced.”

If you live in a neighborhood bordering on Miller Creek i..e.,  Lucas Valley, Marinwood, Mont Marin, Rotary Village, Lucas Valley Estates, etc. and you are:

  • interested in discovering ways to protect and enhance the Miller Creek Watershed,
  • want to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood, 
  • want to learn how to protect endangered species,
  • like to help reduce the expense of watershed maintenance,

please consider becoming a Steward of the Miller Creek Watershed.

The control of further bank erosion is of prime concern and is one of the major goals for the Miller Creek Watershed Stewards.

Bank erosion in mainstream Miller Creek is widespread, as the channel is deeply incised in many places and in a widening phase.  The creek width dictates the amount of bank erosion that may be caused by swifter moving water in a narrow channel.This erosion typically occurs on the outside of meander bends and is characterized by vertical banks with little to no riparian vegetation. 

In Miller Creek this bank erosion jeopardizes private property and structures.

Miller Creek is home to a population of steelhead, a threatened species. This fish is protected within the Miller Creek Watershed.  Fishing is only allowed in the ocean and bay.  Protection of the habitat and young fish in Miller Creek helps ensure their survival.

While rainbow trout are called so because of the bright red stripe found down their sides, the steelhead variety loses this luminescent marking when going out to sea. The journey to sea and the lifestyle requirements there also allow the steelhead to grow quite a bit bigger than the rainbow; while trout that spend all of their lives in fresh water typically grow anywhere from 12 to 36 inches long, steelheads will be between 20 and 40 inches long. The largest steelhead caught was landed in Alaska, and weighed in at 42 pounds.

Steelhead salmon are actually considered the normal occurrence among rainbow trout; it is the rainbow which remains in fresh water that is the anomaly. Both steelheads and rainbows are prized by anglers as big fighters when hooked; they begin to jump almost immediately after feeling a barb, and landing one is quite a feat. Because of their value, and because of their unique taste, steelheads have been introduced to more water systems than any other fish; their habitat now extends east to the Great Lakes regions of North America. 
Dedicated to protecting the environment.


For Immediate Release
September 10, 2015

Overturned Paint Truck Closes Lucas Valley Road and dumps an estimated 300 gallons of yellow paint into the Miller Creek watershed.

Road expected to reopen at 10pm when crews finish cleaning up spill

UPDATE September 11 4:45p.m. – Due to difficult terrain, cleanup operations at the site of yesterday’s overturned truck could not be fully completed today. However, at this time all lanes are open and will remain open for the duration of the weekend.

Cleanup operations will continue on Monday and will not require any lane closures as equipment and personnel will be staged off of Lucas Valley Road.

On Tuesday crews will remove remaining materials and the area will received a final inspection from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Both lanes will be closed and no traffic will be allowed through from Westgate Dr. to Skywalker Ranch on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate these operations. Additional closures may be necessary if the area does not receive a final sign off from inspectors. The County will continue to post updates to the News Release online should the scheduled closures change.

UPDATE September 11 10:00 a.m. – Delays will continue today until 3:30 p.m. as crews finish cleaning up spilled paint. From 6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. crews will direct traffic through one lane that that will be open from Westgate Dr. to Skywalker Ranch. 

From 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. both lanes will be closed and no traffic will be allowed through from Westgate Dr. to Skywalker Ranch. Residents who live between Nicasio Valley Road and Skywalker Ranch will still be allowed to access their homes during this time from west of the closure. 

Crews are expecting to finish the cleanup and reopen traffic in both directions after 3:30 p.m. today in time for the evening commute. San Rafael, CA – Lucas Valley Road will remain closed until approximately 10 p.m. tonight as environmental cleanup crews work to pump out several hundred gallons of paint which spilled from an overturned truck. The truck was carrying approximately 2,000 gallons of paint when it destabilized on a tight turn on the two lane road. An estimated 300 gallons have spilled. No injuries have been reported from the accident.

There is a hard road closure in effect in both directions of the affected section on Lucas Valley Road until approximately 10 p.m. today, which means that no vehicles will be allowed through. The closure, enforced by CHP, is from Skywalker ranch to Westgate Drive. There is a soft closure in effect at Nicasio Valley Road, prior to the closure at Skywalker ranch. Residents who live between Nicasio and Skywalker ranch will still be able to access their homes from the west of the closure on Lucas Valley Road.

The closure will remain in effect until cleanup crews have finished removing paint from the area. The Department of Public Works estimates that the road will reopen at approximately 10 p.m.

Agencies onsite include Marin County Department of Public Works, Marin County Fire, Skywalker Fire, the California Fish and Wildlife Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and Environmental Protection Agency, and Marin CHP. The cleanup crew, Bayview Environmental, has been hired by the trucking company of the overturned vehicle.