Friday, June 15, 2018

El Camino Real Landscape Update

The Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery (GSR) project has nearly completed its work at the Garden Chapel Funeral Home site along El Camino Real. We have drilled a new approximately 620-foot well, built a new well station, and installed 850 feet of pipeline to connect this with the water transmission system. We removed the trees along the pipeline alignment along El Camino Real between Southwood Drive and Orange Avenue for this project.

After discussions with the City of South San Francisco, the SFPUC has planted 15 Coast Live Oak trees along El Camino Real in a way as to not interfere with the pipes in the ground. The team has also planted groundcover in this area and replaced the fence of the Baden Valve Lot with a new black vinyl-coated fence. 

Additional Project Construction
As the project moves forward into Phase 2 we will work on locating up to three additional well sites in Northern San Mateo County. This may require that  the team access the pipeline that runs adjacent along El Camino Real between Southwood Drive and Orange Avenue. The additional work may disturb the groundcover, which the SFPUC will restore after the pipeline work is complete. There will be no impact to the newly replanted trees.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sawyer Camp Trail Update--Firefighting Exercise Postponed Again until June 19, 20 or 21

Wednesday, June 13. 2018--The firefighting exercise for first responders, scheduled for one day this week, has been postponed again until the days of either next Tuesday, June 19, Wednesday, June 20, or Thursday, June 21, depending on weather and other conditions. 

The south half of the Sawyer Camp Trail, from the Skyline entrance to the Jepson gate at the trail's approximate mid-point will remain open for all of those days, with only the north half closed the day of the exercise. 

Cyclists should be prepared to use alternate routes during those three days.  


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Sawyer Camp Trail Update: Firefighting Exercise on Peninsula Watershed Postponed for Day or Two

The firefighting exercise scheduled for June 12-13 has been postponed until this coming Thursday, June 14 or Friday, June 15, depending on weather and other conditions. 

The south half of the Sawyer Camp Trail, from the Skyline entrance to the Jepson gate at the trail's approximate mid-point will remain open, no matter what day the exercise is held.  The north half, from the Hillcrest entrance down to the Jepson Gate will be closed. 

Cal Fire is staging the exercise as a training session for first responders in preparation for the fire season.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

Getting Ready for Fire Season: Sawyer Camp Trail Closure June 12-13 for Emergency Training Exercise

The entire Sawyer Camp Trail, from the Skyline Entrance to Hillcrest, will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, June 12-13, for public safety during a fire-fighting exercise Calfire will hold on the Peninsula Watershed for first responders. 

Calfire announced tentative plans for the  training session at a recent reunion of firefighters, police officers, park rangers, watershed keepers and other first responders, hosted every year by the SFPUC Natural Resources Division. But, as in previous years, dates for this kind of activity depend on the condition of the grasses, weather, winds, and other factors that are not predictable well in advance. If current dates are postponed for any of those reasons, we will post updates on this blog.  

As the second largest landowner on the Peninsula, the SFPUC is constantly on the watch throughout the 23,000-acre watershed and some 30 miles of pipeline right of way for potential fires and other disasters. Conditions are changing, Natural Resources director Tim Ramirez told the crowd at the Pulgas Temple  lunch time gathering. “Every year seems to be different, and the fire season is getting longer.”

The SFPUC routinely teams with neighboring agencies on day-to-day issues of trail management, tree clearances and public safety as well as sudden fires, injuries, and other emergencies.  Partner agencies already have access to the routes they could need at any time.  And our watershed keepers—trained responders as well—help with fires or other disasters on neighboring lands and come with emergency drinking water vehicles when needed.  “Those are times when people really come together,” said acting watershed manager John Fournet. 

The Pulgas event is a standing occasion to renew bonds and get acquainted with newcomers. “This way,” Fournet said, “we already know each other when something happens.”

Friday, June 1, 2018

Temporary Weekday Closures of Sawyer Camp and San Andreas Trail Segments

The San Mateo County Parks Department will close parts of the Sawyer Camp and San Andreas trails, on different midweek dates during the first two weeks of June, for annual mowing to make the trails more usable and reduce fire risk. Here are the dates for each trail segment.   

·        June 5-6: Sawyer Camp Trail south half, Skyline entrance to the Jepson Laurel (mile marker 3.5), starting the evening of the 4th and reopening the evening of the 6th
·        June 7-8: Sawyer Camp Trail north half, Hillcrest entrance to the Jepson Laurel, from the evening of the 6th, reopening the evening of the 8th
·        June 12-13:  San Andreas Trail, from the evening of the 11th, reopening the evening of the 13th

Cyclists, please use alternate routes on those dates. 

For updates or unexpected changes, please visit

Friday, May 25, 2018

Life on the Watershed: Flight Season

Spring is “flight season”—that time of year when we’ll see different colorful butterflies fluttering between native wildflowers as they feed on the nectar before mating, egg laying, and then dying. One species that’s out on the watershed these days—after the larvae have been dormant over the winter—is the endangered Mission blue.  
The small coastal Bay Area native was originally named for its proximity to Mission Dolores in San Francisco, and over the years its essential coastal scrub habitat has been lost to development.

Butterfly species in general each have their own specific larval ‘host” plant that is critical for their survival. For Mission blues, it's one of three perennial lupine species, with the summer western lupine species being the most plentiful on the watershed. 

The female lays its eggs on the lupine leaves, stems, flowers and seed pods. The eggs hatch within a few days, and the larvae feed on the plant for the next several weeks. Then they leave to lay dormant in the leaf litter at the base of the plant until the following spring, when they emerge and the cycle begins again. 

Chalcedon checkerspot butterfly
Also in flight at different times throughout the spring and early summer are the more common Monarchs, Tiger swallowtails, Red admirals, Checkerspots, California sisters, and others. The timing depends on individual species schedules, climate, and other variables. 

Monarch butterfly
Besides brightening the landscape, butterflies are fundamental to the entire ecosystem. They pollinate the flowers they’re gleaning nectar from—automatically picking up pollen from the one flower and transmitting it to the next. And—while certain species (like the Monarch) are toxic—many others, along with their eggs and larvae, are food for spiders, birds, reptiles and other small organisms. 
Painted lady butterfly 

The 23,000-acre watershed is a vital refuge for approximately 60 butterfly species as well as other insect, bird, and animal species. We’ll continue to safeguard and restore our lupine for the Mission blues, as well as multiple other native plants that—common or rare—are vital, not only to certain butterfly species, but a whole ecosystem of diverse plant, insect, bird and animal life.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Groundwater Well Work at Centennial Trail Starts May 21

We at the SFPUC are looking for up to three additional groundwater well station locations to complete the Regional Groundwater Storage and Recovery Project (GSR). One potential location is adjacent to Centennial Trail behind South San Francisco High School between West Orange Avenue and South Spruce Avenue. Beginning Monday, May 21, 2018, a test well will be drilled to determine if this is a viable site production well site. We will test the well for two months to determine whether or not the site is viable.

What to Expect
  • A crew of approximately 8 people will operate a drill rig to dig an approximately 700 foot well.
  • Expected start of work: Crews will be on site starting May 21, 2018.
  • Anticipated Drilling Duration: Six weeks.
  • Duration of Testing:  two months.
  • Construction Work Hours:  Daytime Work: Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. No weekend or nighttime work is expected at this time.
  • Centennial Trail will remain open to the public throughout construction.
  • The rig and equipment will stay on site for the duration of the work. The construction area will be fenced off for safety. A security guard will monitor the area after work hours when the contractor is not on site.
  • The contractors will make every effort to minimize dust and noise in accord with South San Francisco noise ordinances.
  • Please avoid the equipment for your safety.

In order for vehicles to safely make the turn into the site from El Cortez Avenue, we will post no parking signs on a portion of El Cortez near the school fire lane for the duration of construction (see below).