Walkable Watershed Updates

Walkable Watersheds and the Urban Nature Loop trail

“Walkable Watersheds” has been configured as the Urban Nature Loop trail. The “trail” serves to connect people with their surroundings, and especially their watershed, Wildcat Creek. It also provides an excellent opportunity to improve physical fitness and mental well-being, simply by walking outside. Last, but not least, it provides interesting and useful information on 19 Points of Interest along the trail, so one can learn more about natural, cultural, community, and housing assets in the North Richmond neighborhood. Each Point of Interest covers a different topic, ranging from nature, art and music, history, community, and development issues, by providing short text, photos, and video interviews with community members.

To prepare for and to animate the establishment of the Urban Nature Loop trail, The Watershed Project (TWP) has been working extensively with community members and homeowners in North Richmond to improve the value and awareness of pedestrian and bicycle routes, and attract resident participation and stewardship of its watershed through creation and installation of:

  • Interpretive signs for the bicycle route and the Walkable Watersheds route that serve to identify the current location and progress for both cyclists and pedestrians along their respective route and path.
  • Artistic medallions and QR codes on sidewalk stickers provide Information on a total of 19 local points of interest along with the route to animate the “Walkable Watershed” through the creation a mobile, self-guided tour of North Richmond. The overall route covers 1.7 miles and is called the “Urban Nature Loop”, the majority of which was developed to be a “Safe Route to School,” specifically for Verde Elementary School. To help animate this trail, TWP staff worked with an artist to create 12-inch-wide, native animal medallion stickers that were placed on sidewalks along Giaramita St between Verde Elementary School and Shields Reid Park Community Center in North Richmond during the summer and fall of 2023.
  • Pocket Sights” app of the Urban Nature Loop trail: This enables users to access these stories and other information at each stop by logging onto this app and looking for this new trail in North Richmond. In addition, the sidewalk stickers help walkers to navigate along the route. TWP installed directional arrows and location maps, and QR codes for each Point of Interest. Note that scanning the QR codes with anyone’s  phone camera will automatically open the right page on the TWP website.
  • Interviews with Tribal representatives (from the Confederated Villages of Lisjan) and local residents highlighting natural assets and climate resilience, which were used in the development of the Urban Nature Loop trail on Pocket Sights.

Watershed Connection Routes

A 1.75-mile loop walking trail, connecting Verde School with Shields Reid Park along Giaramita St. and Fred Jackson Way, has been designed. This route can be extended by walking along the Wildcat Creek Trail leading to the fish passage on Wildcat Creek. Other connections are to bicycle routes.

The Urban Nature Loop trail, which can be accessed through The Watershed Project’s website and Pocket Sights, stretches between Verde School along Wildcat Creek trail to Fred Jackson Way, then along Chelsey Ave, through Shields Reid Park, and back to Verde School on Giaramita St, with extensions to the Fish Passage and Urban Tilth’s Farm (see trail map above).

Most of these elements are illustrated in the photos below.

TWP sticker collage

3 of the 10 artistic medallions placed on sidewalks along the Urban Nature Loop trail (courtesy of TWP)

Urban Nature Loop stickers

Guide stickers on sidewalks to help trail users not lose their way
(courtesy of TWP)

rainbow trout medallion being placed by artist

Rainbow trout medallion being applied by artist at Verde School bridge.  Photo by John Steere.

2. Halloween Event

The Watershed Project partnered with Urban Tilth and led a school and community Halloween event in October 2022 for Verde School students. We connected with the children outdoors to enhance their relationship with the creek, and the natural environment next to their school, and experience walking along the creek trail. Booths and tables included fun activities, watershed education, and cleanup activities.

Halloween 1
Halloween 2
Halloween 3
Halloween 4

Initiating “Safe Routes to (Verde) School” in North Richmond on Earth Day

At an Earth Day event, on April 23, 2022, a collaboration of volunteers, The Watershed Project (TWP), and agency staff kicked off a component of the North Richmond Watershed Connections project, “Walkable Watersheds,” which includes coordination with the Contra Costa Health Services' “Safe Routes to School” program.  The goal is to designate and beautify the safest route to Verde School along Giaramita Street, between this K-8 School, which is adjacent to Wildcat Creek, and the Shields Reid Community Center, along with Chesley Street that runs alongside it. This event was preceded by a Street Cleanup on Friday, April 22 to clean the sidewalks, pick up trash, weed, and provide outreach to the residents of Giaramita Street with the Safe Routes to School event.

More than 40 volunteers and residents, including children, along with staff from Supervisor Gioia’s Office, TWP, Contra Costa County Public Works Department, Richmond Land, Contra Costa Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Office, and the County Health Services Department participated in the Earth Day event. The event was dubbed “Paint Day” for painting stencils of bubbling water and making chalk drawings on the west-side sidewalk of Giaramita to animate the "Safe Route to School" and Walkable Watersheds route. In addition, TWP has commissioned a local artist to further beautify the route with imagery that evokes the life of Wildcat Creek. Additional days will be scheduled to complete the Safe Route to School and Walkable Watersheds route, which includes 13 blocks of the North Richmond community. (See figure depicting the North Richmond Watershed Connections project.)

The County would like to acknowledge the State Coastal Conservancy for the grant funding under Prop 1 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s State Physical Activity and Nutrition Grant that make this project possible (see the NRWC Project Description for details). 

Sign up table

1. Volunteers signed waiver forms and picked up bag lunches at the sign-up table.

Stencil prep

3. Volunteers taped together the bubble stencils into a band, like a pieces of a puzzle.

Spray paint 2

5. People taped the stencil bands to the sidewalk and spray-painted them with different hues of blue.

Chalk on sidewalk 1

7. The sidewalk was not only for painting, but was also a canvas for chalking by children.  Several places along Giaramita were marked out for this purpose and kids were only too happy to oblige with creative images. These areas were designated for future painting by local artists with imagery evoking Wildcat Creek.

Stencil 3 w Luz and Keena

2. Participants taped together a series of stencils, comprising bands of bubbles to go along the sidewalk. Among them, is the lead artist, Keena Romano, who painted the mural on Verde School in the background. She is on the left side, listening to Luz Gomez in the yellow vest, who is the Manger of the Building Healthy Communities program at Contra Costa Public Health and oversees the county’s Safe Routes to School Program. It should also be noted that Jeanine Strickland, landscape architect with TWP, designed most of the stencils that are being used for the animation of the Safe Route to School in North Richmond.

Carrying stencils

4. Once a couple bands of bubbles were taped together, they were carried down the street to be painted onto the sidewalk to brighten them and create a watery effect.

Spray paint 4

6. Once a 20-foot band stencil was spray painted in, the stencil was lifted up and carried down the street for participants to paint the next portion of the sidewalk.

Gioia walking by completed stencil

8. Supervisor John Gioia walks along a completed band to appreciate the seeming stream along the sidewalk.

For additional information and updates regarding this NRWC component that is being led by The watershed Project go to: https://thewatershedproject.org/nrwc/