News from Marin Resource Conservation District

More News on Urban Streams coordination news and events pages here and here.

August, 2021: 

Coexisting with Coho During Drought

By: Robin Meadows – Independent Science Journalist

“When Bolinas farmer Peter Martinelli decided to help coho salmon by boosting summer water levels in Pine Gulch Creek, which runs through his land, he had no idea that the project would take two decades to complete. Now he’s happy he saw it through. Coho are endangered in most of their California range, and droughts like the one we’re experiencing now are among the biggest threats to these coastal salmon.”

My grandpa used to say that salmon in the creeks were so thick, you could walk across the top of them,” – Jody Brazil (speaking of Walker Creek)

“Conservation can decrease pressure on agencies to keep water in reservoirs, freeing up more for environmental flows, Every little bit helps. Collectively, our actions will determine whether the Bay Area’s coho disappear or return in abundance to our coastal creeks.” – Sarah Phillips, MRCD Urban Streams Program Manager


Young Coho Salmon

Young coho salmon. Photo by Morgan Bond/NMFS

Marin creek gets rare visit from endangered salmon

By: Will Houston of the Marin Independent Journal

“For more than a decade, biologists dutifully returned each winter in search of endangered coho salmon at a once-thriving stronghold flowing through Point Reyes National Seashore — only to come up empty-handed. That changed this year.”

Although nesting sites were not found at Pine Gulch Creek, one nesting site was found in Pine Gulch Creek, which follows Highway 1 and flows into Bolinas Lagoon. A potential reason why: 

“For [National Park Service biologist Michael]Reichmuth the most likely explanation for why a salmon nest was found in Pine Gulch Creek after more than a decade is that some coho were unable to access Redwood Creek because of the drought conditions this winter. A sand berm at the mouth of Redwood Creek at Muir Beach can prevent fish from entering if winter rainfall isn’t enough to generate flows that can break through it…Pine Gulch Creek typically has more water than Redwood Creek, in part because of a program enacted by the Marin Resource Conservation District in 2016. Under the program, three Bolinas farms agreed to forgo their summer water diversions from the creek and instead were given permission to store water in four ponds during the more flush winter months. The intention was to provide fish, especially young rearing coho, more water during the summer months when flows can drop to dangerously low levels in dry years.”

Salmon - Pine Gulch

A juvenile coho swims in Pine Gulch Creek near Bolinas in an image captured by the National Park Service in July. (Photo by Michael Reichmuth)