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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.
After years of concerted effort and leadership by our very own Brian Johnson, as well as his predecessor Chuck Bonham, with many setbacks along the way, and bedeviled by drought, total water cut-offs, massive salmon kills, and Siskiyou County’s unique view of the world, we finally reached a long-dreamed-of milestone on the Klamath River.
Recently, four members of the U.S. Senate introduced legislation that will authorize and pay for key elements of the three formal agreements now in place between Klamath Basin water users, Tribes, farmers and ranchers, a major utility, conservation groups, local and state governments, and resource management agencies. These agreements collectively resolve virtually all of the issues (including water sharing, listed species recovery, commercial and sport fishing, hydropower operations and infrastructure, river management, Tribal rights, wildlife refuge needs, and irrigation requirements) that have undermined a comprehensive solution for the Klamath for decades.
This just in from Michael Reichmuth, Fishery Biologist with the National Parks Service:
For those of you interested in a summary of our 2014 smolt trapping operations I have provided a link below to a short summary of the information collected during the trapping season.
In general this spring started out wet but dried out quickly with only one storm that caused a disruption in our trapping operations. Coho smolt production increased on Olema Creek when compared with the previous time this cohort was seen while smolt production decreased on Redwood Creek.
Follow the link provided below if you are interested in viewing a summary of our preliminary spring 2014 coho smolt trapping results.
June 18, 2014 by thinkbluemarin
by Eric Ettlinger
Salmon in California have evolved to follow the seasonal rhythms of wet and dry periods as they migrate between their natal streams and the ocean, and then back again. The fall rains that swell Lagunitas Creek and herald the return of adult salmon to Marin County also encourage young coho salmon to begin their downstream journey to the ocean. In normal years, winter is the time when many of these young salmon migrate from headwater tributaries down to lower Lagunitas Creek, where they transform into silver smolts in preparation for the ocean phase of their life cycle. These smolts wait in the lower creek until April and May before entering the ocean, just in time to take advantage of the spring plankton bloom.
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.
NBTU hosted its most recent workday on Saturday, June 28th. Thirteen volunteers, including a couple of new faces, spent the morning removing non-native plants (weeds) around Redwood Creek. Some of the weeds were the size of small trees requiring the use of a special weeding tool (see pictures below). We filled 33 bags or enough to fill the pick-up truck twice over! If you are interested in participating in Redwood Creek or other restoration projects, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Reichmuth, a fisheries biologist with the National Parks Service, sent out an email with the final results of the 2013-2014 spawning survey on a number of creeks in Marin, including Rewood Creek. We are reproducing it below with his permission.
Looking Back – Coho and Steelhead Spawning Summary
Although winter seemed to arrive late this year, coho and steelhead successfully spawned in both Redwood and Olema Creeks. Given that significant rainfall did not arrive until mid-February, it was pleasantly surprising to see so many returning coho salmon. In most years peak coho and steelhead spawning are separated by at least one month, with coho typically spawning in December and January and steelhead spawning from late January through the spring, but this year both coho and steelhead returned at the same time. In some locations both coho and steelhead adults were seen spawning side by side. On one survey on Olema Creek, crews observed a total of 95 adult coho and steelhead. In total, 29 coho redds and 42 steelhead redds were observed on Olema Creek, and five coho redds and nine steelhead redds were counted on Redwood Creek. This represents an increase in the number of adult coho spawners compared to the last time we observed this cohort during the winter of 2010-2011. On Olema Creek, steelhead redd counts were higher than past observations and there is still plenty of time for steelhead spawning, as they will often spawn through April, and sometimes as late as May.
Follow the link provided below if you are interested in viewing a summary of our 2013-2014 spawner survey results. 2013-2014 Coho and Steelhead Spawner Survey Summary
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.