Riparian Habitat Enhancement
and Monitoring

Starr Ranch in the News

Starr Ranch is bordered on the west by a residential community of over 1,100 houses, extensive landscaping, and a golf course. All of the surface water run-off from this community is diverted and dumped into two Starr Ranch streams, Tick and Dove Creeks. Tick and Dove eventually meet with another, larger, Starr Ranch stream called Bell Creek (a headwater in the San Juan watershed). The residential surface water input into these streams is of concern to Ranch biologists because it alters chemical, physical, biological and hydrological dynamics.


Stream restoration Starr Ranch manager, Pete DeSimone, worked with hydrologists, engineers, and local water districts on the installation of pumps on catchment basins at the beginning of Tick and Dove drainages. These pumps capture urban runoff for diversion into the Trabuco Canyon Water District’s water reclamation system. The pumps were installed and operational in 2008. Since 2003, under the direction of our Director of Research and Education, Dr. Sandy DeSimone, seasonal research interns map the distribution and abundance of non-native plants in our creeks, plan and implement invasive control and restoration, monitor restoration, and recruit hundreds of volunteers each year to help us remove invasive plant species without the use of chemicals.

stream sampling Water Quality Monitoring

Since 2003, Starr Ranch biologists have been using Rapid Bioassessment to gather data on the impact of run-off and subsequent pumping on the physical habitat, chemical and biological components of water quality in Tick, Dove, and Bell Creeks. We are also monitoring an unimpacted site in Bell Creek (north of where Tick and Dove join Bell) to use as a reference site. We will continue to monitor and document changes in water quality long term


Education - Starr Ranch Field Ecology Programs

stream sampling

Ranch Research Team
We have organized a group of dedicated community members interested in watershed conservation to work as volunteer citizen scientists. These volunteers undergo yearly training workshops for using the rapid bioassessment protocol and, under the direction of Starr Ranch staff biologists, carry out all of the data collection for this project. Citizen science volunteers also help staff biologists survey aquatic vertebrates and perennial pools in Bell Creek.

Ecology Programs
The stream bioassessment project is fully integrated into our education programs. During 1-2 hour programs scouts, families, public school and homeschool students, and adults learn why and experience how biologists study streams. Participants address simple research questions and collect data on aquatic invertebrates and water chemistry. To schedule a program contact Sandy DeSimone.


Starr Ranch Streamflow Map
Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) from benthic macroinvertebrate data 2016
Stream photo by Scott GibsonSpecial Thanks To:
Our volunteer field assistants: Al & Janet Baumann, Gwen Demitria, Marina Dupuis, Mosha and Javorca Gunic, Bill Hoese, Trude Hurd, Jessica Jennings, Ken Krause, Marvin Katz, Tim & Karen Morey, Zehava Parim-Adimor, Christiane Shannon, Bill Cullen, Becky Clarke, Chris Farmer, Jim Derrig and Scott Gibson.
Bill Isham for his generous assistance with subsampling and taxonomic identification of our samples!
David Gibson with the San Diego Regional Water Control Board, for his time and expertise.
Erick Burres with the State Water Resources Control Board Clean Water Team for technical assistance and some supplies.
How to Get Involved
Contact the Assistant Director of Research and Education
Sandy DeSimone
100 Bell Canyon Rd. Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679
California Department of Fish and Game Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory
Clean Water Team
California State Water Resources Control Board
County of Orange Watersheds and Coastal Resources Division
Environmental Protection Agency Rapid Bioassessment Protocols
Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)