Malibu Creek Arundo Removal Project

Location: Los Angeles County

Project Type: Restoration

Status: Completed

Habitat Type: Exotics Control, Riparian

Cost: $358,400

Project Footprint: 5.2 stream miles

Assembly District: 55

Senate District: 27

Congressional District: 33

Project Lead/Grantee:
Mountain Restoration Trust (Rachel Burnap, 818-581-1701)

This project cleared Arundo donax from approximately 5.2 miles of stream corridor along Malibu Creek. One of the most destructive forces to wildlands, natural resources, biodiversity and habitat is the invasion and dominance of non-native plant species. Non-natives alter the indigenous landscape by forming monocultures that suffocate all other plant species. We are all familiar with the bright colors of spring: the yellow of mustard and the bright green of grass. Unfortunately, these are some of the non-native plants that came from Europe with the early settlers. Coming from a mediterranean-type climate regime (wet winters and long hot summers), southern California was ideally suited to their survival. Many of these European plants had found ways through the millennium to survive, not only the summer drought, but the grazing of domestic sheep, goats and cattle. Our native plants had no defense against such massive land disturbance and domestic grazers. So, resource agencies throughout the state, nation and world are stepping in to give native plants a fighting chance.

MRT recognized that the wetland resources of lower Malibu Creek are faced with an extremely serious threat, the invasion of Arundo donax. This exotic plant is an aggressive, bamboo-like perennial grass that clogs streams and rivers and crowds out native plants. Arundo donax alters riparian canopy structure, food availability, fire regimes, sedimentation, and water purification capacity, greatly impacting wildlife. This project will continue to restore these wetlands by eradicating Arundo and allowing the infill of native plant species such as willows and sycamores.

The eradication program began in 2000 with funds from the National Park Service and a grant from Los Angeles County through the Habitat Conservation Fund to remove the giant cane from the lower 2.5-mile reach up to the Rindge Dame, the only reach of Malibu Creek accessible for steelhead trout spawning.

The project expanded to include the stream between the dam and the bridge on Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road with a Proposition 12 grant from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission funded by the California Coastal Conservancy. The project now totals 4.2 miles of stream and creek-side (riparian) vegetation.