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Outdoor Lab

Campus Creeks

Adobe Creek

As you drive onto campus you cross Adobe Creek, a 14.2 mile long creek flowing from its source at Black Mountain in Monte Bello Open Space Preserve, toward the Palo Alto Baylands (1).  You can view the creek from the bike and walking path along the edge of parking lot 7, and the northwestern edge of parking lot 1 where it continues past the football stadium toward I-280.  The creek on our campus is highly modified, with subducted portions and concrete lined channels in some stretches.  Nevertheless, much of the creek on campus supports native vegetation along its corridor, including coast live oak, willow, and California buckeye.  Additional small drainage creeks in the Horticulture yard and at the base of the Lower Campus (along parking lot 8) feed into Adobe Creek.  You can often hear tree frogs singing at dusk from these drainage creeks.

Purisima Creek

This two mile long tributary of Adobe Creek runs along the northwestern edge of campus.  It joins Adobe Creek on the eastern side of I-280 near O’Keefe Open Space Preserve in Los Altos Hills (6).  You can view this creek along the northwestern edge of parking lots 2 and 3.

Insert photo(s) of creek channel       

Campus Creeks and Student Activities

Students in Biology 9, 10 and 1C frequently participate in local citizen science and habitat restoration efforts, including the option of participating in stream monitoring along Adobe Creek.   Students in Hort 10 regularly perform vegetation surveys along portions of Adobe Creek, documenting both the native and non-native flora.  Student involvement may one day expand to include a more frequent stream monitoring initiative and restoration of the portions of our creek heavily impacted by invasive non-native plants.

Our Creeks and Local Organizations 

Foothill College is within the Lower Peninsula watershed in the Santa Clara Valley Water District (7). Much of the watershed for Adobe Creek is protected by Hidden Villa and Foothills Park, the latter a part of the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District (1, 2)

Grassroots Ecology monitors several streams within the Lower Peninsula watershed.   On a monthly basis they monitor sites along Adobe Creek, including one sampling site at Foothill College where the wooden bridge connects parking lot 1 to the walking path along the perimeter road.

Organizations involved in restoring habitat along portions of Adobe Creek and in creek management for flood and erosion control include the Santa Clara Valley Water District (3; e.g. Edith Park and West Edith Avenue bridge), Ecological Concerns Incorporated (4; e.g. Edith Park, O’Keefe Open Space Preserve), and Acterra (5; e.g. Redwood Park).



  1. https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Adobe_Creek_(Santa_Clara_County,_California
  6. https://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Purisima_Creek_%28Santa_Clara_County%29

In addition to the links cited above, these links provide useful tools and maps for exploring the creeks in our region.

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Guido Bordignon, Biology Department Chair