Salmon & Other ‘Fishy’ News
A three-year-old adult coho makes its way through the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)
Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times

Learning to Love our Lampreys!

Liam Bailey, 7, of Prosser, touches a Pacific Lamprey attached to Dave’y Lumley, a fish technician for Yakama Nation Fisheries, during a release event Saturday morning.Tri-City Herald’s Wendy Culverwell covered a great event that just took place in the Columbia River Basin with the Yakama Tribe and neighboring community. The Tribe has come together to support a population enhancement program for the Pacific Lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) where 50 adult lampreys were released in early April, 2017 to help boost numbers. This ancient fish is roughly 450 million years old and is a major element for the Yakama Tribe and many other coastal watershed Tribes. These prehistoric fish help improve water quality during their first 4-7 years as they act as filter feeders, living in the sandy substrate of creek beds. Click HERE to read the full article and HERE to learn more about these amazing prehistoric creatures that are here in Marin!!

January 2017’s Flash Flood Impacts to Salmonids

Stream Gage in Samuel P Taylor State Park at 2,500 cfs
Stream Gage in Samuel P Taylor State Park at 2,500 cfs

The following is an update from Eric Ettlinger, Aquatic Ecologist with MMWD on January 13, 2017: “The current state of affairs in Lagunitas Creek can be described as a glass-half-full/glass-half-empty situation. Or more accurately, a reservoir-full, streambed-empty situation. By the end of December the coho salmon run was on track to be larger than the parent generation of three years ago and continue the generational improvements we’ve seen for each of the last five years. But then came the unrelenting storms of the last two weeks. On the positive side those storms filled MMWD’s reservoirs and produced the high flows that can create and improve salmon habitats in Lagunitas Creek. On the negative side those flows destroyed many coho redds, washed away some of our salmon habitat structures, and severely hampered our survey work. We’ve heard rumors of fresh coho out there (and steelhead should be starting to spawn too), but we haven’t been able to see them ourselves. The most recent storm raised Lagunitas Creek flows to 4,300 cubic feet per second, which was the third-highest flow in 35 years. In the coming months we’ll see if this flood had significant impacts on incubating salmon eggs and/or last year’s fry. Previous major floods in 1998 and 2006 resulted in very poor egg survival, and we expect to see relatively few fry again this summer. One-year-old juvenile coho have survived recent large floods successfully, likely by seeking out slow water areas on floodplains.  Ironically, it may be moderate storm events that are most deadly, because flows stay confined in the stream channel and slow water habitats may be hard to find. This summer we’ll be enhancing a number of areas on Lagunitas Creek to provide exactly those kinds of slow water habitats. On an optimistic note, the floods this season have risen and receded rapidly, hopefully subjecting coho fry to fast, confined flows only briefly. In late March we’ll start counting the surviving smolts as they migrate to the ocean and, one way or the other, that data will contribute to our understanding of how salmon survive floods and what we can do to help.”

SF Gate also just published THIS article in relation to how our beloved salmon are doing amidst the recent storms of 2016-2017 titled, “California’s Recent Storms are Devastating Endangered Salmon” by Kristin Hanes, January 13, 2017 featuring Eric Ettlinger.

Salmon Status Update: Winter 2016-2017

Marin’s Coho Salmon amidst the winter of 2016-2017 are doing quite swimmingly thus far! Between the Aquatic Ecologist for MMWD,  Eric Ettlinger’s recent updates and the newest article published in the Marin IJ, things are shaping up nicely for this year. Click HERE to read the full article. Eric states in his December, 2016 spawner report, “Dry weather allowed for spawner surveys to resume this week, following the largest flood in a decade last week. As suspected, many of the redds in Lagunitas Creek were destroyed in the flood, but most of the redds in the tributaries appear to have survived. Spawning continued apace, with 44 new coho redds seen this week, which was essentially unchanged from last week. To date 154 coho redds have been seen in the watershed, including 29 redds reported by SPAWN in the tributaries to San Geronimo Creek. Typically the coho run is 60% complete by this date, putting this year’s run on track to reach 250 redds, the long-term average. That would also be an increase over the run three years ago (the parental generation), which is always what we hope for.”

Central CA Coast (CCC) Coho Salmon: “Unfortunately the long California drought combined with poor ocean conditions have kept this species teetering on the edge of survival. This year NOAA Fisheries identified CCC coho salmon in its “Species in the Spotlight” initiative as one of eight species most at risk of extinction in the near future.” — Charlotte Ambrose with NOAA Fisheries wrote in this recent article published in Fish-Bio. Click HERE to read the full text.

Filtering Toxic Stormwater: A new study was recently released on behalf of Washington State University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA) showing that stormwater runoff from urban roadways is so toxic to coho salmon that it can kill adult fish as quickly as 2.5 hours. You can read an article on it from The Seattle Times by clicking HERE or read the full scientific report in draft format HERE.

The Salmon Restoration Federation’s 35th Annual Conference is just around the bend! Come to Davis, CA in March, 2017 to learn about a broad range of salmonid and watershed restoration topics of concern to restoration practitioners, watershed scientists, fisheries biologists, resource agency personnel, land-use planners, and landowners. Click HERE for conference details!

Lagunitas Creek Update on Salmonid Surveys from Eric Ettlinger at Marin Municipal Water District, Click HERE.  Most recent reports for December, 2015 and January, 2016 state the following from Eric, 12/18/15 — The coho salmon run on Lagunitas
Creek has been off to a slow start, but spawning
ramped up significantly this week. We observed 140
coho spawners and 37 new redds this week – the
most coho seen in one week since 2006! In one
pool we saw approximately 38 coho (I say
“approximately” because counting that many
moving fish isn’t easy). Last weekend’s rain allowed
a small number of coho to enter San Geronimo
Creek but flows in Devil’s Gulch are still too low for
salmon to swim up there. We’re also documenting
coho swimming past our antenna, just upstream of
Point Reyes Station. The antenna detects tags that
were implanted in the fish when they were fry. Each
tag has a unique number that allows us to identify
which fish are coming back. So far we’ve detected
seven returning coho. Two of these were originally
tagged in Olema Creek, which is interesting
because they had to have passed Olema Creek
before swimming past our antenna. One of them
has since turned around, apparently realizing it
missed the exit. What’s more interesting are the
unique biographies of each fish. Five of the seven
fish were born in 2013, were detected heading to
the ocean in 2014, and have returned in 2015,
which exemplifies the typical three-year life cycle
for coho salmon. One fish was born in 2014 and
came back as a “jack” after spending only about
nine months in salt water. The seventh coho was
tagged in 2013 as a rare “holdover” fish – one that
stayed in the creek for a second year. We detected
it going to the ocean in 2014 and it just returned as
a four-year-old coho, which is a life history strategy
we knew was possible, but hadn’t documented
previously. Even a small group of fish can teach us
something new. More rain is in the forecast which
should encourage more coho to come upstream
and hopefully into the tributaries to Lagunitas
Creek. We’ll be out there counting them whenever
there’s a break in the weather. Directions to the Leo
T. Cronin Fish Viewing Area:
01/04/16- The New Year is starting off happy on
Lagunitas Creek, at least for us biologists. The
storms just before Christmas dropped over six
inches of rain in the watershed and raised stream
flows to their highest level of the season. Surveys
documented over 200 coho salmon and 94 new
redds since those rains. Last week’s redd count (53)
was the highest single-week count in a decade. To
date we’ve counted over 400 live coho and 151
coho redds, which already beats last year’s totals.
High stream flows have allowed salmon to swim
into San Geronimo Creek and Devil’s Gulch, where
we counted 49 and 21 coho redds, respectively.
Those are respectable redd counts for an entire
season, with roughly a month left in this spawning
season. We’ve even heard reports of good numbers
of coho in the small tributaries to San Geronimo
Creek, where they’ve been extremely scarce in
recent years.
Some caution should be exercised before
celebrating all this good news. We’re still a long
way from an average run (250 redds), let alone a
record run (634 redds). Coho migrated to the ocean
in record numbers in 2014, and so far we’ve seen
less than 3% return. We were hoping that a record
smolt migration would translate into a record
spawning season. And lastly, the hundreds of
thousands of coho eggs now incubating in their
gravel beds are vulnerable to the kind of El Niño
flooding currently predicted. Hopefully, there are
lots of salmon that have yet to spawn, and,
hopefully, we’ll get enough rain to fill our reservoirs
but not enough to wash away salmon eggs.”

There is a new update to the state of CA’s Fish Species of Special Concern. This has been a  a collaborative project of CDFW and UC Davis. The publication includes sixty-two species accounts, a methods section, and scientific references. You can read the publication by clicking HERE. Additional information can be read HERE by visiting UC Davis’ WaterBlog where you can stay informed on CA’s water, fisheries and overall watersheds.

The Tomales Roach (Lavinia symmetricus ssp.) has recently changed its status to a Species of Moderate Concern. The main rationale for why is that it has a limited range which is degraded by extensive habitat alteration which is a result of water diversion infrastructures and grazing. Click HERE to read about its life history, habitat requirements, distribution and taxonomic relationships.

Learn about the importance of salmonid genetic diversity in the face of Climate Change and human impacts on fisheries: 

Board of Supervisors

Sarah Phillips, Marin RCD’s Urban Streams Program Manager, reported to the Marin County BOS on July 12, 2016 regarding the USC Program to date, 22 months and running. Click HERE to view the presentation, it begins at the 1 hr 48 min mark.





Sarah Phillips, Marin RCD’s Urban Streams Coordinator, reported to the Marin County BOS on June 16, 2015 regarding the USC Program to date, 9 months and running. Click HERE to view the presentation, it begins at the 2 hr 10 min mark.Sarah Phillips and Kallie Kull





In The Papers

Aquatic Experts Work to Save Marin’s Environment

In April of 2016, Trout Unlimited’s North Bay Chapter teamed up with Marin Municipal Water District to teach Marin residents about the invaluable work the two entities conduct in effort to restore habitat for our native finned friends that are in need of our help! Click HERE to read the full article.

Pt. Reyes Light_12.3.15 Carbon SequestrationMarin RCD has been taking on Climate Change through its Carbon Farming Program in partnership with Marin’s Carbon Project. Read this great article written by George Clyde in the Point Reyes Light December 3, 2015 describing UC Cooperative Extension’s recent studies around this scientific effort and the RCD’s accomplishments! Click HERE to read the full article.

Educational Description of the Islands
Educational Description of the Islands

Civic Center Watershed Restoration Group with Gallinas Watershed Council and Marin County launched two floating islands designed by Floating Islands West into the lagoon in effort to help remediate the pollutants in the waterway. By using specific plants that phytoremediate water and substrate, the islands are a visual reminder of how we can come together as a community to get creative on cleaning up our watersheds! Click HERE to read to full story on the Marin IJ. Supervisor Connolly was there to speak to the project in addition to the founder of Bioneers.

North Bay Trout Unlimited recently conducted 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. Their grant project restored woody structure in eight locations along this creek, reversing some of the adverse effects attributable to a history of logging in the area. To read more on this incredible endeavor on their webpage, click HERE or to read about it in the Marin IJ, click HERE. To learn more about why adding large woody debris LWD is good for fishery habitat enhancement, watch this video! 

The Marin IJ, Movers and Shakers with Sarah Phillips, Marin Resource Conservation District’s new Urban Streams Coordinator, Click HERE

Point Reyes Light, with Sarah Phillips, Marin Resource Conservation District’s new Urban Streams Coordinator, Click HERE

West Marin Citizen, with Sarah Phillips, Marin Resource Conservation District’s new Urban Streams Coordinator, Click HERE

Press Release about Marin RCD’s new Urban Streams Coordinator written by George Clyde, Click HERE

Marin IJ’s Mike Prado wrote an article in the December, 2013 paper regarding Chinook and Coho, Click HERE



Watershed Groups E-News

San Geronimo Valley Planning Group’s December, 2015 Newsletter with a write up about the Healthy Creeks Workshop organized by Sarah Phillips, Urban Streams Coordinator and MCSTOPPP. Click HERE.

San Geronimo Valley Planning Group’s April Newsletter, Click HERE

San Geronimo Valley Planning Group’s March Newsletter, Click HERE

San Geronimo Valley Planning Group’s February Newsletter, featuring Sarah Phillips, Click HERE

Friends of Corte Madera Creek Watershed Newsletter, Creek Chronicles, January through June, 2015 featuring Sarah Phillips, Click HERE

Watershed Meetings

Ross Valley Flood Control Zone 9 Advisory Board met on Thursday, April 16th. The meeting was held in the San Anselmo Town Hall Council Chambers at 525 San Anselmo Avenue, San Anselmo, CA 94960Click HERE to obtain more information about Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed Program.

Novato Creek Watershed Program met on Friday, March 6th from 1 pm-4 pm at Womack Conference room (upstairs) Novato City Hall 922 Machin Ave Novato, CA 94945. Contact Laurie Williams, Marin County’s Senior Watershed Planner, at for more information.