Restoring Oak Creek

In 2007, a massive fire flared up along Oak Creek, just north of Independence in the southern Owens Valley. A catastrophic flood then scoured the creek in 2008, destroying much of the remaining riparian vegetation. Nearly a decade later, the creek is still barely vegetated and unprotected from future floods.

Only sparse vegetation has returned to the banks of Oak Creek.

We joined the Fort Independence Tribe, the California Native Plants Society, and the Inyo National Forest on December 14 to take a small step toward restoring Oak Creek’s streamside forest. With a troop of 20 volunteers, we worked until sundown and put over 250 locally grown native plants in the ground!

A great group of volunteers joined us to wrestle with Oak Creek’s stony soils.

Late fall in the Eastern Sierra is the perfect time to plant bitterbrush and other native vegetation. Plants require less water during this season and cooler temperatures encourage them to grow strong root systems rather than diverting energy toward leaves and stems above ground. By the time the hot and dry weather rolls around, these plants should be well established and able to withstand the East Side’s extreme summer.

In addition to native grasses and herbs raised in the CNPS greenhouse, we planted live oak acorns harvested from Fort Independence.
All ages are welcome at Friends of the Inyo’s volunteer stewardship events!



If you’d like to Adopt-A-Planting by watering one of our planting sites every two weeks, please email




Photos by Julia Runcie.


Comments (2)

One step forward. I enjoyed the hard work and everyone stayed busy. Good group. Thanks for showing Arrow Rose, my daughter.

Thank you Spike for bringing your family out to help!

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