The Filipponi Ecological Area encompasses seven acres of land that was historically altered for farming but has since been restored as a thriving wetland. It is located just south of the City of San Luis Obispo at the confluence of the East Fork and main stem of San Luis Obispo Creek. The property is maintained as a wildlife preserve and is not open to the public.
Identified by The Land Conservancy for its important natural resources, the Filipponi property was purchased by the City of San Luis Obispo County in 1999 as part of its greenbelt program.
Historically, this property had been farmed or grazed for nearly a century. Levees on the property confined the stream that runs through the property, a seasonal stream called the East Fork of San Luis Obispo Creek, to keep the site from flooding. Periodically, however, the floodwaters would break the levee. The power of these floods scoured the soil off the site and deposited it in San Luis Obispo Creek where it fouled the nests of spawning steelhead. At the time it was purchased, one of the main goals for the property was to reduce topsoil erosion and the subsequent sedimentation of San Luis Obispo Creek.
The Land Conservancy partnered with the City to restore the stream corridor and build new wetlands. After raising over $700,000 to restore the site, we recreated an active floodplain by removing 800 feet of levees. Once the floodplain was reactivated, we set out to restore 4,000 linear feet of the stream corridor, install six wetland pools, and create a seasonal wetland swale. Throughout the project, we worked with teams of hydrology experts and experienced grading contractors, and also brought in an army of volunteers to help plant approximately 19,000 native plants. Teams of stewardship volunteers maintained the project site for nearly three years until the native plants were successfully established.
Today the restoration work is complete with a variety of wildlife relying on the wetland pools and restored stream as a natural support system. Bird monitoring surveys have shown that the number of bird species utilizing the site has increased from 20 species prior to construction to over 90 species of birds currently identified on the site. We also see evidence of a great number and variety of wildlife, including coyotes, foxes, skunks, opossums, bobcats, mountain lions, bears, and even southwestern pond turtles.
Project Funding Partners
- City of San Luis Obispo
- The County of San Luis Obispo
- David and Lucile Packard Foundation
- Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response
- Regional Water Quality Control Board
Filipponi Ecological Area is not open to public use. However, access to this site is available through the Land Conservancy’s docent led hikes. Check the events page to join us for an upcoming land tour.