What Is A Watershed?

A watershed is the area of land that drains into a body of water. The Laguna Creek watershed encompasses almost 50 square miles of land draining to Laguna Creek and its tributary streams, starting in the Sunrise area of northeast Sacramento County and flowing southwesterly through Elk Grove to Morrison Creek and eventually to the Sacramento River. During winter storms, some of the water reaches the Stone Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The Council was founded in 2005 through a grant awarded by the State Water Resources Control Board. The goal of this grant was to increase awareness of all stakeholders within the watershed of the valuable role Laguna Creek and its tributaries and the associated riparian corridors play in the region. One of the products of the grant was a watershed management action plan that identified issues and projects that protect the creeks and promote watershed stewardship. In 2009, the Laguna Creek Watershed Council (LCWC) became a non-profit, obtaining 501c3 status. The Council is governed by a Board of Directors. The Council supports its work through grants, donations, and the volunteer work of its Board and members. The activities of the Council include organizing community activities, such as creek clean ups and educational/recreational events, as well as working with the City of Elk Grove, schools, and other public agencies to promote environmental stewardship.

The Council relies on the following two documents to guide its work:

Laguna Creek Watershed Council (LCWC) Work Plan
Every few years, the Board of Directors updates the work plan to reflect current needs and issues in the watershed as well as important items from the original watershed plan.

Laguna Creek Watershed Management Action Plan (LCWMAP): Chapter 6 – Recommended Actions
Describes the 43 recommended actions intended to satisfy the 6 watershed protection objectives.  It also describes the interest-based proecss used to select the actions.

LCWC Meetings – The Public is Welcome to Attend!

The Laguna Creek Watershed Council holds general membership meetings on a regular basis.  Please check the Events Calendar for the current meeting schedule.

Meetings are open to all and the public is encouraged to attend. Meetings are held at various locations.

To download the Laguna Creek Watershed Brochure, please click here, or contact us for more information and meeting locations at [email protected]

Mission and Vision

Mission Statement

The Laguna Creek Watershed Council is a non-profit grassroots alliance that strives to protect and restore the beneficial uses of Laguna Creek, its tributary streams, and associated riparian corridors.  These uses included habitat for aquatic animals and wildlife, recreational opportunities for the residents of the region, and flood risk reduction.  We will accomplish these goals by educating residents, promoting active community participation, and fostering partnerships and projects that achieve long-term, balanced solutions with mutual benefits to all stakeholders.

Vision Statement

A community that appreciates the environmental, recreational, and flood management values of Laguna Creek and works to protect and enhance these values for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.  Residents, businesses, organizations, landowners and government agencies collaborate to create solutions that balance the need for responsible resource protection and management with continued urban and economic development.


The LCWC Board of Directors is comprised of members with a broad range of expertise and experience in watershed science, community activism, public planning, resource management, and non-profit organizations.

Learn more about the Board below.

Sheri Noblett, Treasurer

Sheri Noblett is a registered landscape architect, an ISA certified arborist and a Qualified Stormwater Developer (QSD). She has worked for the County of Sacramento, Department of Transportation and currently works for the Cosumnes Community Services District, Department of Parks and Recreation as a Senior Landscape Architect designing, constructing and renovating public parks and playgrounds in Elk Grove.  

Steve Scott

After completing his degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology at UC Davis, Steve gained employment with the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District Bufferlands.  As a biologist for the Bufferlands, he helps to manage and restore over 2500 acres of wildlife habitat surrounding the lower reaches of the Laguna Creek watershed.  In addition to working in the watershed, Steve also lives here, frequently enjoying the local trails and spying on the wildlife living along Laguna Creek.  

Nancy Myers, Vice-President

Nancy is one of the founding members of the Laguna Creek Watershed Council.  She has a Master’s degree in Education and is retired from the Elk Grove Unified School District after 17 years in elementary science education.  Nancy is a Sacramento Splash (sacsplash.org) guide, helping children understand and value their natural world through scientific investigation and outdoor experience.  She participated in tree planting projects near the creek as well as being a coordinator of  Sheldon’s  “Folks for Oaks”, a cooperative joint effort between SMUD, The Sacramento Tree Foundation, and two community Associations to plant Oak trees in the rural area of Elk Grove.  Nancy is also an active member of the Central Valley Rails to Trails Foundation and the Sheldon Community Association.  Contact Nancy at here.

Alta Tura, Secretary

Alta is a long time watershed volunteer.  She is President of Sacramento Area Creeks Council, a nonprofit group that encourages the protection, restoration and maintenance of natural streams in urban environments. She began working on environmental issues after joining the Audubon Society in the late 1970’s, serving as the Sacramento Chapter’s Conservation Chairperson and representative on the Environmental Council of Sacramento. Alta has worked as a volunteer exclusively since her retirement as an elementary school teacher in 1995. She heads the annual Creek Week which provides volunteers the opportunity to clean Sacramento County creeks of man-made garbage and invasive plants every spring. She currently serves on the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan Steering Committee. This plan, when adopted, will allow the creation of a habitat preserve system that will include a riparian preservation strategy focusing on a Laguna Creek wildlife corridor. Alta also serves on the Habitat 2020 committee and is secretary for another locally-based nonprofit group, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk.  You can reach Alta here.

Barbara Washburn, President

Barbara is an aquatic toxicologist and watershed scientist.  She works at Cal/EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (www.oehha.ca.gov), serving as the lead scientist of the Ecotoxicology Program. The work of her group involves developing scientific tools and educational resources to support watershed risk assessment. She has been working with the LCWC since its inception. She holds a Ph.D. in physiological chemistry from UC Davis. She lives in Wilton with her husband Tim, 3 dogs, and 2 horses. You can reach Barbara here.

Past Board Members

Cathy Lemelin

Cathy Lemelin is a recently retired Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS) who has lived in North Laguna Creek since 1986. A few years after moving to North Laguna Creek she discovered the Laguna Creek Parkway about a mile south of her home.  It became her favorite area for jogging and enjoying nature.  Since then she has fallen in love with the local urban creeks (Laguna and Elk Grove Creeks) as a place to exercise and to be in and observe nature.  After retiring she started volunteering for LCWC activities and has since joined the board.

Amanda Platt

Amanda Platt has worked and played in the Laguna Creek Watershed for much of her life. Being an alumni of Elk Grove High, Laguna Creek was the first area in which her interest in the study of water quality and watershed studies was fostered. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Watershed Management and Geology from Humboldt State University. She now works for the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts as the Cosumnes River Watershed Coordinator. If you want to email her directly, click here.

Awards and Grants

Award for Watershed Excellence

In December of 2008, the Sacramento River Watershed Program (SRWP) awarded the Laguna Creek Watershed Council its Award for Watershed Excellence.  Founded in 1996, the SRWP is a large watershed organization that particularly focuses on the health of the Sacramento River.  The organization works with dozens of watershed councils that are stewards for the tributaries of the Sacramento River.

Bob Shanks, a member of their Board of Directors, came to our spring membership meeting to officially present this award to Carmel Brown, consultant and manager of the grant that helped form the LCWC, and Greg Suba, former watershed coordinator who currently works with the California Native Plant Society.  We are honored to be the recipient of this award.

Members of the Board of Directors of the LCWC with Bob Shanks. In the back row, Eric Berntsen. In the front row, Alta Tura, Maureen Casey, Bob Shanks, Mindy Cecchittini, Barbara Washburn, and Paul Marshall. Absent from the picture is former Board member Alex Laiewski, who recently resigned due to his appointment to the Sacramento County Planning Commission (congratulations Alex!).

Carmel Brown and Greg Suba receiving the Award for Watershed Excellence from Bob Shanks.

American Society of Landscape Architects, Sacramento Chapter Communities Grant

In 2018, the LCWC was awarded a grant by the ASLA, Sacramento Chapter, to develop a handbook for conducting docent-led activities in the watershed. The focus of the work was to develop a series of Cruise the Creek hikes and bike outings along the creek. The Council hired 3 interns from Cosumnes Oaks High School. Council members met with them weekly to guide their work developing theme-based events, outreach and social media strategies, and other practical guidance for conducting events. Funds from the grant were used to pay each student a stipend.

Rose Foundation Grassroots Environmental Grant



In 2020, the LCWC was awarded a grant by the Rose Foundation to develop new web content on climate change and its impact on the regional watersheds. In partnership with the City of Elk Grove, the Council is also working on content for three interpretive signs to be placed at key locations along Laguna and Elk Grove Creek trails. These signs will contain relevant information on climate change and ways in which each individual can contribute to reducing their carbon footprint. Work in progress.



Organizing Documents

Founding Grant Final Report

View information on the Founding Grant Final Report for the Laguna Creek Watershed Council.

IRS Tax-Exempt Letter

Laguna Creek Watershed Council is a 501(c)(3) public charity. View our IRS letter verifying our tax-exempt status.

LCWC Bylaws

View the Laguna Creek Watershed Council Bylaws.

Conservation News


Our Watershed Stewards Program offers opportunities to the general public to explore watershed issues and foster community involvement. Student volunteers may also qualify for community service hours.

Service Learning

Help coordinate Service Learning programs with the EGUSD.  High school students can earn credit for participating in Community-based projects. We would like to focus some of this energy on the creeks and watershed education. The watershed council needs help organizing and coordinating this effort.

Creek Walks

The Creek Walk program is an environmental education program for young children.  LCWC needs help updating the curriculum as well as working with other community organizations to do outreach and lead 1 – 2 hour walks along the creek with pre-schoolers.

Community Event Booths

LCWC members staff booths at many community events to distribute outreach materials and engage interested passers-by in discussions of the natural history of the Laguna Creek Watershed. The LCWC has staffed booths at the Elk Grove Harvest Festival, Elk Grove Creek Week, Sheldon Heritage Days, and Walk on the Wildside events.


One of the LCWC’s ongoing goals is to identify and recruit community groups to adopt sections of their local creeks; adopting a creek section involves regularly performing acts of stewardship along a specified reach. Local scout groups have adopted portions of Laguna Creek and Elk Grove Creek, and members of local neighborhood associations regularly help with Creek Week activities along their local reaches.

Tree Planting Projects

The tree planting events described in the Watershed Education Program were also open to the public. In addition to student participants, residents of all ages have participated.

If you would like volunteer to help the Laguna Creek Watershed, please use the form below and we will contact you with more information.   Besides the projects listed above, we need assistance with Administration, Fundraising, Grant Writing, Monitoring and Reporting on Creek Conditions with Photo Documentation, and Invasive Plant Removal.community involvement. Student volunteers may also qualify for community service hours.

Contact, Volunteer, or Subscribe

Laguna Creek Watershed Map

A Look Inside Our Watershed

The Creek

Laguna Creek flows 25 miles across broad floodplains and terraces shaped over time by the ancestral American and Sacramento Rivers.  Historically, the creek was dry much of the year except after rain storms and in scattered deep pools.  Today, major sections of Laguna Creek and its tributary streams flow year-round due to agricultural and urban runoff during dry seasons and rainfall during wet seasons.

History of Laguna Creek Trails

From at least the 1970’s, Sacramento County planners and supervisors had discussed the idea of creating a bicycle trail along Laguna Creek that would serve as both a recreational opportunity for residents, and a conceptual boundary for future growth in south Sacramento County……

By 1988, the first section of the Laguna Creek Parkway was completed by the City of Sacramento as part of the North Laguna development. Bicycle and walking trails were installed on both sides of Laguna Creek from Center Parkway to Franklin Blvd., a pedestrian bridge was built over the creek to connect the two trails, and the creek channel itself was modified to increase its conveyance capacity. In addition, both banks were revegetated with native trees and shrubs, and regulations for flood risk reduction, wildlife habitat and wetlands preservation required the dedication of several hundred feet of open space riparian buffer on both sides of the creek. The North Laguna Wildlife Area reach of trails and open space is managed to this day by the City of Sacramento Department of Parks and Recreation.  Funding for maintenance is provided by a perpetual assessment established in the late 1980s by the first community of residents in the area.

Since the North Laguna trail section was established, the scenario of associating creekside development with dedicated riparian buffers bounded by recreational trails has been repeated several times along Laguna Creek.  In 1991 the Fallbrook Subdivision trail reach from Waterman Rd. to Elk Grove-Florin Rd. was completed. In the early 1990’s Laguna Creek north of Bond Rd. was excavated to create the Camden Lakes development with associated parks and trails around a large floodplain.  The parkway regularly floods during the heavy winter storms. Also by the early 1990’s, the first phases of development of the Vineyard Springs Comprehensive Planning area (Silver Springs developments) established bicycle, walking, and equestrian trails from downstream of Excelsior Rd. to a point downstream of Vineyard Rd. In the late 1990’s the Laguna Bypass Channel was excavated along the north side of Laguna Creek from Hwy 99 to downstream of Bruceville Rd. and a bicycle / pedestrian trail has been completed along the eastern half of the Bypass reach, from HW 99 to Lewis Stein Rd. In 2005, the Creekside development at the site of the old Fish Hatchery implemented improvements to the trail between Elk Grove-Florin Rd. and Bond Rd.  

Funding for operation and maintenance of the trail systems, including repair of pavement and irrigation, replanting trees and vegetation, graffiti removal and litter and trash pickup, is typically provided through assessments that were established when the adjacent land uses were developed.  In short, the community residing and working in neighboring areas are paying the local park district or City Parks Department for the long-term upkeep.

Trail Interpretive Signs

The Laguna Creek Watershed Council has partnered with the Cosumnes Community Services District, the City of Elk Grove, developer groups, and a local graphic artist to produce several streamside trail signs along both Laguna and Elk Grove Creeks.

The value of interpretive signs is that they relate the natural history of the area as well as interesting information about plants and animals that frequent the area around the sign.  You can see the them along streamside trails at Del Meyer Park, the Creekside trail (site of the old Fish Hatchery), at Pinkerton Park, and along the Laguna Springs Trail along Elk Grove Creek just south of Laguna Blvd. (along the trail behind Peet’s Coffee). Signs have also been installed along Elk Grove Creek near the Laguna Blvd. crossing, on the Longleaf Drive bridge, on the Camden Spur trail, and elsewhere.  New signs are being prepared for new developments as well.  The Council, working with our partners, plans to install signs throughout the watershed.

Look for the signs along the way next time you’re walking or biking the trails!

Trail Sign QR Code DEMO

Climate Change

Climate Change - Water

Climate Change
Effects on Humans and Wildlife

Climate Change - Effects on humans and wildlife

Climate Change
What You Can Do

Climate Change - What You Can Do

The Landscape and People

Laguna Creek meanders through what was originally vernal pool grassland prairie with scattered areas of Valley Oak savannah.  Plains Miwok people fished from the creek, and hunted and gathered other food from the surrounding land.  By the late 19th century, outside settlers began to farm the area, soon displacing most of the native people.  Crops, pasture and non-native grasses and weeds replaced the original creekside vegetation and grasslands.

In more recent times, urban development has dramatically changed the landscape, affecting the creeks and their habitat.  Creeks were moved in some places to make room for roads and houses and native creekside trees and plants were removed.  Pavement and roofs now prevent rain water from  soaking naturally into the ground, sending more runoff quickly into storm drains and down to the creeks, taking pollution with it and eroding natural creek beds and banks.

Today, the Laguna Creek Watershed Council and a growing number of community volunteers are taking action to conserve undeveloped portions of the watershed and restore or enhance damaged sections of the creek and its habitat for future generations to enjoy.

Explore the Watershed

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, located in the lower reaches of the watershed, includes restored wetlands and other habitat types.  It’s a great place to view migratory birds, heron and other wildlife,  Go to the refuge website for tour and  event information.

The Bufferlands include 2,500 acres of open space, separating Sacramento’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant from its nearest neighbors.  It is home to a variety of native California landscapes, including ancient groves of Valley Oak.  Go to www.bufferlands.com for tour and event information.

The North Laguna Wildlife Area was established in the late 1980’s and provides habitat for many wild animals, and flood protection to the neighborhoods along the creek.

The Fallbrook Reach has wide natural buffers that provide wildlife habitat in the heart of Elk Grove, California.  A popular spot for biking, walking and bird watching, the trail follows the creek for 3 miles from Jack Hill Park downstream to Camden Lakes.

The Vineyard Reach features open space along the creek, as well as a bike and equestrian trail accessible from Vineyard Road.  Currently one-mile long, the trail will continue another 1.5 miles to Calvine Road once the trail is extended.

The Upper Watershed is still largely undeveloped.  In its uppermost reaches, Laguna Creek is dry except after the winter rains, but still provides important habitat.  Plans for new development could change the landscape around the creek.



Vision for a Regional Trail System

Today’s Laguna Creek Parkway is a system of existing and proposed trails envisioned to connect the Sacramento Levee trail system to the American River Parkway via the Laguna Creek corridor and the Folsom South Canal.

Currently, for Laguna Creek alone, discontinuous trail sections account for about 10 of the 25 miles of creek. Similar situations exist with tributary creeks.  As discussed previously, the planning, construction and maintenance of the existing recreational trails and riparian corridor buffers was financed by requirements and assessments placed on new streamside development projects. As a result, existing trail sections have developed in piecemeal fashion, and not always in a manner that has balanced habitat, flood risk reduction, and water quality with the recreational and financial goals of the development. Connecting these fragments will be a challenge because there is no funding mechanism and grant programs are highly competitive.  An additional hurdle is property ownership.  Some sections of Laguna Creek and its tributaries are located on private property, and landowners may not grant public access through their land.

The City of Elk Grove, the Cosumnes CSD, and Southgate have Trails Master Plans that include conceptualized alignments for the remaining sections of the Laguna Creek Parkway. The Upper Laguna Creek Corridor Master Plan will propose additional details concerning trail alignments and riparian buffer characteristics for the Laguna Creek corridor upstream of Waterman Rd. Three proposed development projects (Cordova Hills, Sun Creek, and the Arboretum developments) in the uppermost reaches of the watershed have trail systems associated with their project designs that will connect to the Parkway at the Folsom South Canal, with the potential of connecting to the proposed Deer Creek Hills / Alder Creek trail systems to the east.

In the lower watershed, the City of Sacramento and the SRCSD Bufferlands are exploring trail alignment options that will continue the Laguna Creek Parkway west from its current terminus at Franklin Blvd., northwest through the Bufferlands, and west through the City of Sacramento’s proposed Delta Shores development to the Sacramento Levee trail system.

To connect existing trail sections, and to expand and complete the Laguna Creek Parkway, the LCWC recommends a watershed-wide, multi-faceted planning strategy for recreational trails that will require regional collaboration to incorporate Trails Master Plans developed by the City of Elk Grove (Elk Grove Trails Committee 2007), the Cosumnes Community Services District (CCSD), and Southgate Recreation and Parks District (Southgate), as well as the interests of streamside homeowners.

In addition to planning future reaches of the Laguna Creek Parkway, the development of future parks by the City of Elk Grove, the Cosumnes CSD, the City of Sacramento, and Southgate should include efforts to link spur trails from new parks and developments to the main Laguna Creek Parkway.

Report a Concern

The Laguna Creek Watershed Council appreciates your interest in the health and maintenance of the watershed.

There are several local agencies who have responsibilities for different aspects of the watershed and the surrounding environment. To report trail vandalism or general trail maintenance concerns, use the appropriate contact information from the list below.

Who Should Know?

If you experience flooding near or on your property, or you want to report flooding in the road that might pose a driving hazard, contact the City of Elk Grove, Public Works Department Emergency Contact Number:  (916) 405-5688

To report leaking sprinklers in medians, rights of way, or public parks systems around Elk Grove, contact the Cosumnes Community Services District at (916) 405-5688.

For developed trails along Laguna Creek north of Calvine Road contact: Southgate Recreation and Park District: (916) 428-1171

For developed creekside trails (Laguna, Whitehouse, Elk Grove Creeks) between Calvine and Bruceville Roads contact: Cosumnes Community Services District Maintenance Hotline: (916) 405-5688

Click Here for the Map of the Watershed

For the developed trail in the North Laguna Wildlife Area south of Laguna Creek (between Bruceville and Franklin Roads) contact: Cosumnes Community Services District Maintenance Hotline: (916) 405-5688

For the developed trail in the North Laguna Wildlife Area north of Laguna Creek (between Bruceville and Franklin Roads) contact: City of Sacramento Parks Department: (916) 808-5200

If you have other concerns such as invasive creekside plants, or planned and current development projects impacting the watershed, please email us at [email protected].

Resource Library

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Resource Library Categories:

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Local Organizations

City of Rancho Cordova: http://www.cityofranchocordova.org/index.aspx?page=55

Cosumnes River Preserve: http://www.cosumnes.org/

Dry Creek Conservancy: http://www.drycreekconservancy.org/

Elk Grove Greener Gardens: http://www.elkgrovegreenergardens.org/

Elk Grove Public Works Dept: http://elkgrovecity.org/city_hall/departments_divisions/public_works

Friends of Swainson’s Hawk:  http://www.swainsonshawk.org/

Information Center for the Environment, UC Davis: http://ice.ucdavis.edu/

Information on Creek Levels for Sacramento Watersheds: http://sacflood.org/level.php?

Regional San Bufferlands: www.bufferlands.com

Sacramento Area Creeks Council: http://www.saccreeks.org/

Sacramento SPLASH:  http://www.sacsplash.org/

Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership: http://www.beriverfriendly.net/

Sacramento Stormwater Quality Partnership Educational Information Page: http://www.beriverfriendly.net/

Sacramento Tree Foundation: http://www.sactree.com/

Sacramento Valley Conservancy: http://www.sacramentovalleyconservancy.org

Save Our Sandhill Cranes: http://www.soscranes.org/

Stonelakes National Wildlife Refuge:  http://www.fws.gov/stonelakes/

Dept. of Water Resources, Sacramento County: http://www.msa.saccounty.net/waterresources/swu.asp

National Organizations

Center for Watershed Protection: www.cwp.org

Low Impact Development Center:  www.lowimpactdevelopment.org

National Non-Point Source Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) Network: http://nemonet.uconn.edu/

US EPA Green Infrastructure: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_what.cfm

US EPA Office of Water: www.epa.gov/water

Information for Reporting Issues along Creeks

For developed trails along Laguna Creek north of Calvine Road contact:
Southgate Recreation and Park District: (916) 428-1171

For developed creekside trails (Laguna, Whitehouse, Elk Grove Creeks) between Calvine and Bruceville Roads contact:
Consumes Community Services District Maintenance Hotline: (916) 405-5688

For the developed trail in the North Laguna Wildlife Area south of Laguna Creek (between Bruceville and Franklin Roads) contact:
Consumes Community Services District Maintenance Hotline: (916) 405-5688

For the developed trail in the North Laguna Wildlife Area north of Laguna Creek (between Bruceville and Franklin Roads) contact:
City of Sacramento Parks Department: (916) 808-5200


Climate Change

Climate Change

Climate Change Content Here

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Contact Laguna Creek Watershed Council

Post Office Box 197
Wilton, CA 95693