By Karen Brainard
Crissy Tobiason is joining forces with her dad to clean up the Santa Maria Creek.
Before completing 24-plus years on the Ramona Community Planning Group last year, Angus Tobiason said his goal was to see the overgrown vegetation and trash cleaned out of the “crick” to prevent future flooding, fuel for fires, and to eliminate a hiding place for criminals.
Respecting his wishes, the planning group took the lead and has been working with County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, county staff, and environmental agencies to see what could be done without having to obtain costly permits and without taking a chance on being fined for removing sensitive habitat.
At the group’s July meeting, Chair Jim Piva said he learned that the group cannot head up the project because of liability issues, and announced that Crissy Tobiason volunteered to take the lead.
“Crissy is dedicated...she wants to see Angus’ dream come true of getting that creek cleaned up,” said Piva.
Although he referred to her as the project’s “champion,” Crissy Tobiason was quick to respond, “My dad’s gotta be the champion.” Crissy Tobiason said she would be the champion’s helper.
Piva said the county and planning group are taking care of necessary paperwork, and Crissy Tobiason would oversee groups of volunteers.
According to Piva, about 10 organizations, including The Nature Conservancy and Wildlife Research Institute, are jumping on board to clean up the waterway.
“The county had contacted every one of them and so far they have been very positive about wanting to help clean up the crick,” he said.
Looking at Angus Tobiason and referring to his pronunciation of “creek,” Piva said, “We call it the ‘crick’ now, Angus, out of respect for you.”
Group Secretary Kristi Mansolf said biologists have walked the creek to look over the vegetation and advise on what can be taken out.
“Most of the stuff that’s in there can be removed,” Piva said, adding that any native plants cannot be touched.
Piva also said Jacob plans to give instructions to property owners along the creek on how they can clean out their portion.
No cleanup work will start until after bird nesting season ends on Sept. 15. Clearing will be done by hand and no heavy equipment will be used. Piva noted there is a fine line to follow because of environmental regulations.
Ramona Municipal Water District is expected to begin clearing its creek property from Ramona Community Park to Seventh Street right after nesting season ends.
Mansolf said the planning group’s initial focus will be from Seventh Street to just past the Montecito Street bridge.