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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.
North Bay TU received word this week that it has been awarded a grant by the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife to install large wood at eight sites in Devil's Gulch Creek, a tributary to Lagunitas Creek. This will provide improved habitat for the endangered Coho salmon as well as threatened steelhead trout. The work will be completed this summer and will include assistance from NBTU volunteers like you. Thanks for all you do for the fish!
NBTU, with grants from Trout Unlimited, the Rockey Foundation, and Patagonia completed restoration of the wet crossing on October 12, 2013 installing rock walls and three layers of bio-technical fabric that will eliminate a source of sediment load downstream of the crossing. At the same time, an existing wet crossing received a new grading which will permit fish to migrate farther upstream. NBTU volunteers harvested and planted native trees and bushes to help stabilize the banks and provide overhead shelter to lower water temperatures and provide protection for the young fish. Our previous restoration work indicates that we should expect to see fish in the upstream area as well as less sediment in the lower reaches.
This in from Eric Ettlinger, Aquatic Ecologist with the Marin Municipal Water District:
The final update on Lagunitas Creek coho for the 2014-15 season is somewhat overdue because of some unusually late spawners. Last week we observed eight fresh coho in Lagunitas Creek, which is exceptionally late for a run that peaked in mid-December. Coho are typically seen spawning in February only when the rainy season is delayed, like last year. Given this year’s early rains the best explanation I have for the extended run is that the parents of these fish may have been late spawners. Back in 2012 the last coho of the season were seen spawning on Valentine’s Day.
Michael Reichmuth, fishery biologist for the National Park Service, provided the following spawning summary in April for the 2014/2015 year:
This year, winter arrived early and ended abruptly leaving us with below average rainfall thus far. However, even with the unusual rain patterns, coho and steelhead successfully spawned in both Redwood and Olema Creeks. There is still plenty of time for steelhead spawning since we have observed spawning as late as May in previous years. The coho returns observed this past winter were very similar to the counts from the last generation of this cohort. Although we did not observe a decline in adult coho returns, adult coho abundance remains critically low in both Olema and Redwood Creek. On Pine Gulch Creek, coho remain absent making this the sixth consecutive year since they were observed in the watershed.
Follow the link provided below if you are interested in viewing a summary of our 2014-2015 spawner survey results.
What’s Happening Now – Coho and Steelhead smolts are migrating out
Although the coho spawning season has passed, the coho smolt trapping season is already underway. This smolt trapping season has been busy, especially for
NBTU hosted its third 2015 Redwood Creek workday on Saturday, May 16th. Twelve volunteers installed 18 fence enclosures and seven wire cages to protect the young willows on the Redwood Creek flood plane from foraging deer. 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 – May 16, 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.