What is a watershed?
A watershed is a geographic area that collects all the rainfall into a series of drainages and creeks, eventually reaching the sea. The water that runs off every roof, every driveway, and every road eventually finds its way into Topanga Creek. At 18 square miles (12,800 acres), Topanga Creek is the third largest drainage into the Santa Monica Bay. The largest watershed is Malibu Creek (109 square miles) and the second largest is Ballona Creek (88 square miles).
What makes the Topanga Creek Watershed Unique?
Think about the community we call Topanga. It is the creek that defines the community on many levels, from placement of the homes, utilities and roads (along the floodplain), to how natural disasters like wildfires and floods impact our lives. The center of town is where the main stems of the Creek meet from Old Topanga and along Topanga Canyon Blvd. from the Top of Topanga. Most of the creek banks are held in place by native trees and plants, creating a beautiful landscape. The life of the creek is punctuated with catastrophic events that can change it dramatically.
Topanga Creek has the greatest diversity of native plants and animals found in any watershed in the Santa Monica Mountains. From endangered steelhead trout and rare western pond turtles, to the majestic coast live oaks and CA sycamores that frame the creek, the community of Topanga extends a welcome to over 22 amphibian and reptile species, 3 species of native fish, 9 species of bats, numerous rare mammals like ringtail cats and badgers, as well as over 100 resident and migratory birds. Unlike other nearby creeks, only small, isolated populations of exotic animals like crayfish and bullfrogs are found. While invasive plants like Giant Bamboo (Arundo) and Cape Ivy are a problem, they have not yet overwhelmed the natural vegetation.
We have not yet lost our creek. The goal of the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee is to encourage voluntary stewardship efforts that will keep our creek healthy. That is why education is so critical. If all residents of the watershed learn about how their actions can make a real difference, then together we can find the path to living in harmony with our watershed.
What can you do to make a difference?
You can lead the way to greater understanding of how all our actions are directly connected to the long-term sustainability of Topanga Creek. We all live and work somewhere in the watershed, and as the saying goes, everything does move downhill! So each lesson shared on our role as stewards, has direct impacts on the health and well being of the entire Topanga Creek Watershed.
Like the ripples of a pebble thrown into the creek, your efforts spread the understanding our connectedness throughout the community. With your help, the Topanga Creek Watershed Committee hopes to educate the current and future residents of Topanga in meaningful ways that translate into direct benefits, to not only the human community, but to all the plants and animals that share our home. Thanks so much for your help in this important effort.