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City To Float Islands for Heather Farm Park

Walnut Creek with help from community volunteers plans to launch two BioHaven islands as wildlife habitats in park's cement pond.

The city of Walnut Creek has plans to float a couple of islands next week.

After that, who knows? Maybe the next season of Survivor can be Survivor — Walnut Creek.

Just kidding. The islands aren't that big.

City staff, assisted by enthusiastic volunteers, on Tuesday plans to launch two floating islands made out of certified non-toxic, recycled plastic to create a habitat for fish and wildlife in the cement pond just north of the community center at Heather Farm Park. The islands are "roundish," measuring 10 feet by 10 feet, roughly 100 square feet, said Mike Vickers, public services manager for Walnut Creek.

The BioHaven floating islands have been used successfully by many agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, according to a city news release.

For months, the city has been working with Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation and Aquatic Artscapes to select plants for the islands. The Diablo Valley Fly Fishing Club will assist with planting and island launch.

In the initial stages, as fledgling plants are supported by mulch, the island plantings will be vulnerable, said Vickers. In the early going the islands will have poles and nets hanging from them to protect plants from the park's ubiquitous geese.

If the islands are successful, Vickers said, the city might investigate using more islands in the nature lake to the north in the park.


Tuesday's schedule:

  • 10 a.m.        Islands are placed on shore
  • 10:30 a.m.     Planting begins on first island
  • 12 noon     Planting begins on second island
  • 1:30 p.m.     Islands are launched into the pond

Vickers supplied the following list of plants for the islands.

Plant Species for Floating Island Project

Plant species:

Scientific name                             Common name(s)

Schoenoplectus acutus and/or
 S. californicus                               common tule and/or Calif. bulrush
Canna sp.                                      canna
Hibiscus californicus                       California hibiscus
Juncus sp. (J. patens, J. xiphioides,
J. balticus, J. effuses, etc.)                  rushes
Iris sp.                                                  iris
Carex sp. (C. pansa, C. barbarae, etc.)     sedges
Mimulus guttatus                                  yellow monkeyflower
Mimulus cardinalis                             scarlet monkeyflower
Myosotis palustris                          aquatic forget-me-not
Zephyranthes candida                 rain lily or summer crocus
Lupinus polyphyllus                       streamside lupine
Satureja douglasii                         yerba buena
Veronica americana                     American brooklime
Sisyrinchium callifornicum            yellow-eyed grass
Eschscholzia californica                California poppy


obiwan August 17, 2012 at 07:42 PM
There's a mismatch in scientific/common names it the article. The common name for Satureja douglasii is Yerba Buena, not Yerba Mansa. It’s a low growing mint that the City of San Francisco was originally named for. I suppose that it could grow on the island, but you can’t really appreciate it from a distance. Yerba Mansa has big paddle-shaped leaves and tall, pure white flowers. It can be found growing in places along the Delta (also in the California Native section of the Gardens at Heather Farm). It would be a great plant for the island, although it may require some maintenance since it sends out runners that can crawl across the surface of the water. The scientific name for Yerba Mansa is Anemopsis californica.
Lance Howland (Editor) August 17, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Obiwan: I changed it to Yerba Buena based on your say-so. But if you've led me astray, I will have to certify that the Force is no longer with you ... -- Lance Howland, editor, Walnut Creek Patch
WC-Independent August 17, 2012 at 11:14 PM
The island will end up loaded with duck/geese poo and sink.
Bob Brittain August 18, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Um, maybe we should see how this works out before making a judgment. Evidently, the concept has been used successfully before. Let's give it a chance.
WC Mom August 18, 2012 at 05:41 AM
Seriously? The city can come up with the resources for this, yet can't afford to bring back movies in the park at Heather Farm :-(
Julie Jepsen-Grant August 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM
I miss the movies in the park, too. :-( But it's not the goose poop that is all over the place, it is water bottle caps and beer bottle caps, alllllllll over the place. And dog owners, please pick up your dog's poop. I love dogs, and I know they can't pick it up themselves.
Mary Murphy August 21, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Seven Hills School is excited to be involved in this project. We've got about 15 Middle School students at Heather Farm Park today, diving in (to the project, not the lake!) to make a difference.

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