Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Santiago High School Service Learning

Thank you Santiago High School students for helping to plant the succulent demonstration garden.   As part of their Water Discovery field trip, the students planted over 130 succulents in the demonstration garden.  Great Job! For many of the students this was their first time using a shovel or planting in a garden. Thank you for helping improve the park.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Park Video

Check out the video Inland Empire Waterkeeper made featuring Patriot High School enjoying a Water Discovery Field Trip at the Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park!

For more information on Inland Empire Waterkeeper

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sign up for the FREE Environmental Education Workshop Series with Santa Ana Watershed Association

Our partners, Santa Ana Watershed Association is hosting an Environmental Education Workshop Series for educators. It is completely free!

The first of the series will be Project Learning Tree and will be held on January 21, 2012, 10:00am - 3:00pm
The second will be
Project Wet on January 28, 2012, 10:00am - 3:00pm
and the third is
Project Flying Wild on February 4, 2012, 10:00am - 3:00pm
All the workshops will be held at the Mary Vagle Nature Center at

View Larger Map
You'll have to bring your own sack lunch. But, you'll receive a free curriculum guide along with the workshops.

To register, contact: Carrie Raleigh at or 909-280-1120

IEUA Career Day Event

On November 22, 2011 The Agency held a Career Day for a group of high school age boys that are in foster care. They live in a group home in San Bernardino. Their placement is due to many factors, such as parents being unsuitable for guardianship.

The program through the University of Redlands was created to address the academic needs of this population outside of school. Statistics show that foster youth have low success rates for high school completion and high rates of homelessness, drug abuse, and incarceration after emancipation (after age 18). The program is designed to change these statistics and have proven successful and recognized by state organizations such as California Council on Teacher Education.

The students are from a wide range of areas, including Bakersfield, San Diego, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange County and locally in San Bernardino. 

The students received information from Agency staff on careers in the wastewater industry and how/what it takes to enter the industry. Students also participated in a tour of IEUA wastewater treatment Regional Plant No. 5 and the Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park.

We had a total of 24 students in attendance with 9 adults.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Festival of Birds

Great Horned Owl: Wild Wings Booth
The 3rd Annual Fall Festival of Birds hosted by the Santa Ana Watershed Association was a huge success on Saturday.  Over 500 people visited the Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park to celebrate our feathered friends. Thank you to all of the SAWA staff who helped make this a wonderful experience for all of the visitors and participants.  We appreciate all of the following organizations for participating in this event:

  • Santa Ana Watershed Association Biology and Education Departments
  • Healthy Chino
  • Orange County Water District
  • Monte Vista 4-H
  • Inside the Outdoors
  • Inland Empire Utilities Agency
  • Mary Vagle Nature Center
  • Riverside-Corona Resource District
  • Riverside County Parks
  • Troop 2624
  • West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District
  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden
  • Pomona Valley Audubon
  • Inland Empire Resource Conservation District 
  • Wild Wings
  • Loma Vista Middle School  

Water Discovery - Service Learning Project

Just recently, Patriot High School from Riverside came out and did a service learning project in the park. The Santa Ana Watershed Association and Inland Empire Water Keeper led the students through the park as they learned about our regions water and wildlife. Towards the end they helped clean up and plant new plants in our Garden in Every School®(GIES) demonstration garden. Here are some photos from that event.
Listening for instructions with their teacher.

Planting new plants. (Don't forget to take them out of the bucket first)

Here's Brett from Santa Ana Watershed Association helping out one of the volunteers.

Delicately placing the new plant in the ground.

A beautiful new penstemon planted in the ground.
After about an hour of planting, the students from Patriot high learned why we do the GIES program. The importance of water for growing food, and about our mediterranean climate and appropriate plants for our climate. Just because we have a relatively dry climate, doesn't mean that we have to plant cacti only. The students also learned about different types of irrigation and we showed them examples of drip irrigation that is in the demonstration garden in the park.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bird Festival!!!!

Looking for a fun, educational and free event that will get you outside?
Come out to the Chino Creek Park on November 5th and experience
the Annual Bird Festival hosted by SAWA!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Virginia Rail and Green Heron on the same day!

Photo taken by John Mellin
On September 2, 2011 one of IEUA's avid bird watchers, John Mellin saw a Virginia Rail in the late afternoon from the covered bridge looking south at the cattail island. This was a life bird for him!! That same day he saw a Green Heron.

Virginia Rail
 A secretive bird of freshwater marshes, the Virginia Rail most often remains hidden in dense vegetation. It possesses many adaptations for moving through its habitat, including a laterally compressed body, long toes, and flexible vertebrae.

Photo taken by John Mellin
Cool Facts
  • The forehead feathers of the Virginia Rail are adapted to withstand wear from pushing through dense marsh vegetation.
  • The Virginia Rail can swim under water, propelling itself with its wings. It swims in this way probably only to flee predators.
  • The Virginia Rail and other rail species have the highest ratio of leg muscles to flight muscles of any birds.
  • The Virginia Rail builds numerous "dummy nests" in addition to the one where eggs are actually laid.

Green Heron
A small, stocky wading bird, the Green Heron is common in wet spots across much of North America. It can be difficult to see as it stands motionless waiting for small fish to approach within striking range, but it frequently announces its presence by its loud squawking.
Cool Facts

  • The Green Heron is one of the few tool-using birds. It commonly drops bait onto the surface of the water and grabs the small fish that are attracted. It uses a variety of baits and lures, including crusts of bread, insects, earthworms, twigs, or feathers.
  • The Green Heron is part of a complex of small herons that sometimes are considered one species. When lumped, they are called Green-backed Heron. When split, they are the Green Heron, the widespread Striated Heron, and the Galapagos Heron.
  • As is typical for many herons, the Green Heron tends to wander after the breeding season is over. Most wanderers probably seek more favorable foraging areas and do not travel far, but occasionally some travel greater distances, with individuals turning up as far as England and France.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

EduGrants! From WEWAC

Earth Day 2011

The purpose of the WEWAC EduGrant program is to improve and supplement academic instruction by providing financial support to teachers seeking to do creative classroom projects that increase students' awareness of the importance of water in Southern California. 

Awards will be granted in amounts up to $750 per project. WEWAC may award up to $11,250 in total grant funding during 2011-2012. 

Focus of Projects

Projects must specifically focus on drinking water issues. They may involve sources of water, environmental issues, water treatment, water quality, water conservation, political or government issues, etc. Creative and unique approaches to water education are highly encouraged.
Earth Day 2011

How to Apply

Complete the grant application form provided. Please limit proposals to three (3) pages. Describe the project in detail, including supportive activities, objectives, and overall benefits to the students. Applicants must show how the EduGrant will help you achieve your goal. An itemized budget must be included for grant consideration. The signatures of both the principal and the teacher are required for all proposals. Grant Application Form

The deadline for the 2011-12 EduGrant is Thursday, November 3, 2011, 5 p.m.

 This can be used for the Chino Creek Wetlands Earth Day Event!!

Earth Day 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Water Discovery Open House

Thank you to all of the educators who visited the Santa Ana Watershed Association's interpretive center on Saturday, August 27 for the Water Discovery Open House.   Teachers from 6 school districts in the area visited and learned about the Water Discovery Program in the park.    

What is the Water Discovery Program?
The Santa Ana Watershed Association, in a partnership with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, offers a free education program focusing on water conservation, wetlands, and watershed issues.  By incorporating hands-on techniques in an outdoor setting, Naturalists engage students to learn about water ecology and conservation.  The program consists of stations placed throughout the park encouraging observation, imagination, and critical thinking.  Programs are aligned with state science standards and are customized to meet the needs of each grade level.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Check out what's changed at the Park!

Check out what's changed at the Park!

The Santa Ana Watershed Association (SAWA)  has made some changes to the Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park's Interpretive Center.

The Interpretive Center first open its doors in April of 2008 to the public and since has served as a starting point for the Park for the public to learn about the Santa Ana Watershed.

The Interpretive Center allows students to explore the watershed through several exhibits. They will have a hands on encounter with one of the native snakes housed in the nature center.   Topics included in the center are native animals, SAWA projects, and conservation methods.   

The Santa Ana Watershed

The Santa Ana Watershed catches stormwater from a 2,650 square mile region and channels it into the Pacific Ocean at the City of Huntington Beach. It stretches from the peaks of the San Bernardino and San Gabriel Mountains, through the coastal plains in Orange County all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Ana River (River), flowing over 100 miles, drains the largest coastal stream system in Southern California including parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, as well as a sliver of Los Angeles County. The total length of the River and its major tributaries is about 700 miles, one of the largest River systems in California.

There are a number of opportunities to learn about the watershed. Parks and Recreation Areas along the river allow people to experience pristine pockets of habitat firsthand, such as the Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park and the Prado Wetlands. At these areas, visitors can find a variety of interpretive displays revealing the many interesting facts about the River.

To learn more about the Park and the Santa Ana Watershed please contact either Carrie at SAWA or Lucia at IEUA

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Water Discovery Open House

Saturday, August 27 

Want to learn more about the Water Discovery Field Trip Program at the park?  Visit the Santa Ana Watershed Association's Interpretive Center in the park at 15975 El Prado Road this Saturday.   Education staff will be on hand to answer questions about the Water Discovery program, give park tours, and demonstrate activities.   Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Certified Wildlife Habitat

The Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park is now a Certified Wildlife Habitat site with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

In September the park will be receiving its signage from NWF!!

Search for us on

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cooper's Hawk

Photo by John Mellin

In our Backyard...

In late February a pair of Cooper's Hawks made their home at the north end of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) campus. Staff had found that the Hawks produced 2 eggs in their nest. Around early May staff had noted that the two young hawks started peaking over the nest. Since the nest was in close proximity to the Agency’s parking lot a warning needed to be sent to staff to be aware of the aggressive female hawk protecting her young.
Photo by John Mellin

Cooper's Hawks

Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You’re most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).

Cool Facts

  • Dashing through vegetation to catch birds is a dangerous lifestyle. In a study of more than 300 Cooper’s Hawk skeletons, 23 percent showed old, healed-over fractures in the bones of the chest, especially of the furcula, or wishbone.
  • A Cooper's Hawk captures a bird with its feet and kills it by repeated squeezing. Falcons tend to kill their prey by biting it, but Cooper’s Hawks hold their catch away from the body until it dies. They’ve even been known to drown their prey, holding a bird underwater until it stopped moving.
  • Once thought averse to towns and cities, Cooper’s Hawks are now fairly common urban and suburban birds. Some studies show their numbers are actually higher in towns than in their natural habitat, forests. Cities provide plenty of Rock Pigeon and Mourning Dove prey. Though one study in Arizona found a downside to the high-dove diet: Cooper’s Hawk nestlings suffered from a parasitic disease they acquired from eating dove meat.
  • Life is tricky for male Cooper’s Hawks. As in most hawks, males are significantly smaller than their mates. The danger is that female Cooper’s Hawks specialize in eating medium-sized birds. Males tend to be submissive to females and to listen out for reassuring call notes the females make when they’re willing to be approached. Males build the nest, then provide nearly all the food to females and young over the next 90 days before the young fledge.
  • The oldest known Cooper's Hawk was 20 years, 4 months old. (
Phot by John Mellin

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grapes and Pomegranates: Saving water while growing fruit.

In our demonstration garden at our headquarters we have a variety of grapes, and some pomegranate trees. Both of these fruits require very little to no water in our mediterranean climate. After all these fruits originiated from the mediterranean area.

Pomegranates and Grapes in our demonstration garden.
Grapes were first cultivated in central Asia, the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans were known to grow them domestically. There are a few species of grapes that are native to many different parts of the world. Quite a few are even from the U.S. such as the muscadine grapes and concord grapes. There is even a grape that is native to California the California Wilde Grape, (Vitis californica). The California Wild Grape can become a huge beautiful vine but the grapes themselves are tiny and very sour, not fun to eat. They are great for shading windows in the summer and letting sun in during the winter as they are deciduous. A lot of culinary grapes use the wild grape as a rootstock because it is so vigouros. All the grapes that we have in our demonstration garden are mediterranean type grapes because some of the others will require more water. We have quite a variety so that we can see which ones do the best in our park, we have a lot of critters and heavy clay soils.
Our grapes. Most grapes are water wise and climate appropriate to our region.
Pomegranates are also from central Asia. They are commonly grown in the middle east and southern europe along the mediterranean sea. Thomas Jefferson was one of the earliest Americans known to grow pomegranates, he planted some at Monticello in 1771. It's such a delicious fruit that Spain even renamed one of its cities to Granada which is an old term for pomegranate.
One of our youg pomegranates. These are also water wise and climate appropriate for our region.
If you want to grow these out here in Southern California, you'll only need to water them in their first year while they establish. After that, grapes and pomegranates should do just fine with little to no water.

By Andrew Kanzler, Community Outreach and Education Coordinator

Cambridge Educational Institute Visits the Chino Creek Park

Fourteen students from Cambridge Educational Institute visited the wetlands on Monday as part of the Water Discovery Program.   Santa Ana Watershed Association's Education staff took the students on a walk around the park to observe wildlife and learn about the local plants.    The students also made water cycle bracelets and got to meet a live snake- Miss Rosy Stripes, the rosy boa.   

Miss Rosy Stripes, the rosy boa.

By Carrie Raleigh, Education and Public Outreach Manager for SAWA

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Adventures Program!!

For more details contact SAWA Education and Public Outreach Manager
Carrie Bryant at or (909) 280-1120

Monday, June 27, 2011

In the Park

Last week one of the Agency's staff members, who is an avid bird watcher came across some Redheaded ducks dancing in the wetlands and spotted this Bushtit eating lunch.

Male and female Redhead ducks appear to be dancing

Bushtit eating lunch

What birds have you seen recently in the park?