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The North Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited has two projects in Marin County focused on restoring habitat for the endangered Coho salmon and protected steelhead trout. NBTU is leading the restoration of Devil’s Gulch (part of the Lagunitas Watershed) through grant writing, engineering and on-site restoration work. The second restoration effort provides planting assistance to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in the multi-year restoration of the Redwood Creek Watershed. Please scroll down the page for details.
Devil's Gulch 2015
North Bay Trout Unlimited hascompleted a significant project enhancing habitat in Devil’s Gulch, a key tributary to Lagunitas Creek in Marin County, California. Devil’s Gulch is critical habitat for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead populations along the Central California Coast. NBTU, together with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Dragonfly Consulting, restored woody structure in eight locations along this creek, reversing some of the adverse effects attributable to a history of logging in the area. This project is the latest effort by NBTU in their over 30 years of restoration work in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.
What will this project accomplish? By slowing down flows during periods of rainfall in winter, it provides shelter for fish during peak run-off periods and helps maintain spawning areas. This shelter will also allow juvenile fish to grow larger before they migrate out to sea in the spring. During summer, the woody habitat will result in the creation of pools and cover, keeping the creek cool and allowing fish to hide from predators. Please go to https://vimeo.com/103375891 to learn why large woody debris is so important.
The North Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the coho and steelhead of Devil’s Gulch, are grateful to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Marin Municipal Water District, California State Parks, Dragonfly Consultants, and Doug Gore for their assistance and collaboration in connection with this project; and to the California Department of Fish and Game and Patagonia for their financial support.
Coho and Steelhead Juvenilles From Devil's Gulch
NBTU hosted its fifth and final Redwood Creek workday of 2015 on Saturday, November 14th. Twelve NBTU volunteers along with several other volunteers groups, including local tutoring company Sage Educators, split in to three groups. One of the groups removed weed barrier fabric around temporary planting beds as a first-step toward returning the area to its natural state. The two other groups pulled bristly ox tongue, an invasive weed, and cattails around the creek to prepare the area for plating later this winter.
Pictures of the progress made at Redwood Creek since 2009 can be found on the National Park Service website (PDF Link). There is also a map showing what the area looked like before the restoration began and what it will look like after (PDF Link). If you are interested in participating in Redwood Creek or other restoration projects, please send an email to Info@NBTU.org.
Redwood Creek Workday – November 14, 2015
I received an email today regarding a multi-agency collaborative proposal for the temporary captive rearing of Redwood Creek coho salmon. The plan is to collect up to 200 juveniles during the summers of 2014, 2015 and 2016, with the initial collection date being Aug. 13, 2014. The juveniles would be reared at the Don Clausen/Warm Springs Hatchery at Lake Sonoma and released as mature adults in the winters of 2016, 2017 and 2018.
These actions are necessitated by the prolonged severe drought and past poor ocean-rearing conditions in California which are placing many endangered coho salmon populations at increased risk of extinction throughout the central coast. Recent annual adult coho abundance in Redwood Creek is below 10 individuals in two brood-years and below 50 in the third brood-year. Juvenile coho abundance in 2014 is estimated below 200. Without captive rearing, there is a high risk that Redwood Creek coho will completely disappear in the very near future.
The president of the newly formed Truckee TU Chapter Stefan McLeod's impassioned testimony to the Lahontan Water Board (LWB), along with NBTU's past president John Regan's many years of bird dogging, has led to the final chapter in the fight to save the Paiute Cutthroat. NBTU began field trips to the Silver King Creek area over twenty years ago and, along with the CA Dept. of Fish & Game (now the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife), found a solution to saving this species. In 2014, the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife rotenoned a protion of Silver King Creek to eliminate non-native fish which would interbreed with the wild Paiute.
Paiute Cutthroat Trout - Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris
NBTU has a long history of spearheading conservation projects in Northern California.
1980's: A fish ladder is constructed on Lagunitas Creek to provide downstream passage for juvenile fish. Habitat restoration includes planting trees and willows, installing erosion barriers, fencing off stream access from cattle, and creating holding areas for young fish. Hatch boxes are placed in tributaries of Lagunitas Creek and rearing troughs are erected with the subsequent release of 60,000 coho salmon eggs.
Early 1990’s: Habitat work is undertaken to stabilize spawning gravel beds in the stretch of Lagunitas Creek immediately below Kent Lake. Returns of wild coho salmon begin to improve with over 500 coho salmon returning in 1995. Informational kiosk and plaque honoring Leo T. Cronin are installed in 1995 at the Salmon Viewing Area near Shafter Bridge
Late 1990’s: Planning begins for the removal of Roy's Dam with the help of an Embrace-A Stream grant from TU National. NBTU rallies local support and gets approval from several government agencies. In 1999, Roy's Dam is removed and construction of what is now known as Roy's Pools is completed providing miles of new spawning habitat. Bruce Babbitt, the Secretary of the Interior, attends the dedication and NBTU receives national TV coverage of its efforts.
Early 2000’s: NBTU receives an Embrace-A-Stream grant and NBTU begins work in partnership with the Point Reyes National Seashore on restoring Devil’s Gulch, a major tributary of Lagunitas Creek. Fencing is installed to keep cattle away from the stream where wild coho salmon and steelhead are spawning. A second Embrace-A-Stream grant provides for trail restoration and the replacement of three footbridges along Devil's Gulch allowing better protection for spawning fish from human exposure. Three failing culverts are removed and replaced by wet crossings, preventing hundreds of cubic yards of sediment from entering the creek and destroying sensitive spawning habitat. Funding was provided from a California Department of Fish and Game grant.
Late 2000’s: NBTU in conjunction with the National Park Service and California State Parks Department continues trail improvements at Devil’s Gulch and installs an 18' long footbridge, adding to visitor safety and reducing human intrusion into spawning areas. Several fish rescue events are conducted by NBTU volunteers over the years to transport stranded fish from diminishing summer pools. NBTU, the State and National Parks Departments and other environmental groups sponsor a symposium on the salmon restoration efforts at Lagunitas Creek. NBTU expands its restoration activity to the Redwood Creek Watershed, organizing several workdays to plant native plants in the Muir Beach Lagoon.
2010 and Beyond: NBTU is sponsoring workdays at Muir Beach and the Redwood Creek Nursery to restore the Redwood Creek watershed to its natural state as part of a multi-year restoration project. Redwood Creek is the southernmost watershed in North America with active Coho salmon and steelhead runs. For details on the Redwood Creek restoration effort please go to Redwood Creek.
NBTU has begun a four-phase habitat restoration project at Devil’s Gulch to reduce human interference with spawning fish, reduce erosion along the stream bed and provide refuge for young fish. For details on the Devil’s Gulch restoration effort please go to Devil's Gulch.
October 2013: NBTU completes repair of wet crossing at Devil's Gulch.
To read a more detailed account of NBTU's restoration history, click on the link below.