Daylighting of Tennesse Hollow

Tennessee Hollow Watershed, Thompson's Reach Daylighting 
The Presidio, CA

 Tennessee Hollow is the largest watershed within the Presidio and comes from three natural springs. Recent initiatives plan to restore segments of the reaches under a watershed Revitalization project, and in 2005, a large daylighting project kicked off the process.

This 150 meter segment of Tennessee Hollow removed 77,000 tons of landfill and removed this short segment of the stream from pipes. Five years have passed since construction on the project. A monitoring plan was done in 2007, but as far I know, this is the only published monitoring document and does not live up to the initial goals of a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 year monitoring program that they originally planned. Specifically looking at the vegetation monitoring process, the 2007 monitoring results included a point, grid and ocular sampling, yet the three are not as comprehensive as other processes. Joe Mcbride, a UC Berkeley faculty member who was consulted on this project suggested a different type of monitoring plan but the head ecologist refused and used his own hybrid system because it was easier. Therefore the quality and the frequency of monitoring on this site has fallen short of its goals.

 In talking with various project contributors, one of the problems with the vegetation is that plant community zones were created and there wasn't a specific plan for the distribution of the plants otherwise. During planting parties, volunteers were given very basic instruction on how to plant the 35,000 seedlings and therefore didn't necessarily achieve the right community plant structure that would occur naturally, but rather patterns of individual aesthetic bias.

Having recently tried to do research on the site, I'm a little disappointed in it's "success." Surely the vegetation has thrived, as evidenced by the incredibly lush patches of willow.  However, the site according to the Presidio's ecologist Mark Frey, is off limits to the public. While restoration projects should surely be allowed time to grow and thrive without human disturbance, I have a strong belief that restoration projects should seek to involve the public over time. After 5 years of undisturbed growth, it seems that the vegetation is strong enough to encounter interaction with the public. It also seems like with so much money spent on a project like this, it only seems worth while in the long run if it provides some sort of public benefit in this urban context. I would suggest a second round of design that is interactive and allows visitors to experience the site and possibly even be able to see that the stream is coming out of and going into pipes on both ends. On a plus side, I will note that studies have shown dramatic increases in wildlife habitat in this area.

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