Fresh water: The Presidio Trust is unearthing Dragonfly Creek

Fresh water: The Presidio Trust is unearthing Dragonfly Creek

Creek set to emerge from San Francisco Presidio ruins

A creek that has been covered up for nearly a century is beginning to see the light again in the Presidio, as part of restorations that aim to bring the former military base back to its original splendor.

The Presidio Trust, with the help of Caltrans, is unearthing a small waterway known as Dragonfly Creek west of the state Highway 1 overpass as part of the Doyle Drive rebuild project.

The creek, which was first covered by the Army when it occupied the Presidio in the first half of the 20th century, is only 800 feet long. Its home is in the Fort Scott portion of the Presidio.

The creek itself has been covered by dirt, and it ran through a 150-foot underground pipe until it reached San Francisco Bay.

Once it’s completely exposed, though, crews will do their best to restore it to its natural habitat, which includes low-lying brush, ivy and thousands of native plants, according to Mark Fray, a project supervisor and ecologist with the Presidio Trust.

“We hope this will all make the wetland bigger and better, bring more animals, plants and diversity to the creek,” he said. “But we’re also trying to maintain the character.”

Dragonfly Creek is one of dozens the Presidio Trust hopes to unearth as part of a 50-year master plan. Dragonfly — whose namesake insect calls the area home — was moved up in the plan because of money for the Doyle Drive project provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The creek begins at a natural spring in the Fort Scott area and travels north and eventually connects with the Crissy Field Marsh leading to the Bay.

A portion of the creek was exposed during cleanup of Thompsons Reach in 2005, and again in 2008 when the Tennessee Hollow Watershed Restoration Project restored 270 acres of watershed once hidden beneath roadways and drains.

Trust spokesman Clay Harrell said all restoration projects are meant to bring back the Presidio’s natural beauty.

Work on Dragonfly Creek is expected to be completed by spring. Crews are currently installing concrete culverts to allow a road to pass over a small portion of the creek. Once that is secure, habitat restoration and native plant species can be replanted in the area. It could open to the public as early as summer 2012, Fray said.

“In theory, someday it will be a place for animals and birds to go,” Fray said.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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