To learn more about soft engineering approaches to creek bank stabilization that are low-tech and cost-effective, take a look at SERCAL’s spring 2020 issue of ECESIS, featuring an article by Sarah Phillips, Marin RCD’s Urban Streams Program Manager. SERCAL represents the California Society for Ecological Restoration, the local chapter of Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), the leading international organization working on the science, practice, and policy of ecological restoration. The article speaks to soil bioengineering, also known as biotechnical bank stabilization, which includes the use of (native) plant material to reduce erosion and naturally provide support to eroding, unstable creek banks. Click HERE or on the image to the left, to read the newsletter, the article begins on page 5.
To inquire about any available native plants for targeted restoration actions that enhance salmonid habitat, email Sarah Phillips at Sarah@marinrcd.org.
Contact Marin RCD staff for more information and/or to get involved in restoration projects.
North American Beavers!
Federal and state agencies, including in California, are considering beavers as conservation partners to restore habitat and bolster its resilience to climate change. Not only do the dams build up water reserves but a series of dams can act as speed bumps to slow flooding, and they can even sequester carbon.” Click on this link to watch a presentation (and following Q&A session) given by current, active ranchers to the Marin RCD board and partners on beavers and BDAs implemented in existing ranches. The presentation was given and supported by Jon Griggs with Maggie Creek Ranch, Betsy Stapleton with the Scott River Watershed Council, Tracy Schor with her family operation in Placer County, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and Marin RCD.
North American beaver (Castor canadensis) are what biologists call a “keystone species” as the habitat they create benefits many other species. Their dams improve water quantity and quality, increase late season flow and reduce the impacts of flooding. As well, Ben Godfarb states in a recent Water Deeply article, “The primary thing that beavers do is they slow down flows and they impound lots of water. Those slower flows in ponds and wetlands are really important for all kinds of reasons. The big one is water storage; they keep water on the landscape for longer, which makes it available not only to animals, but to human users as well. A lot of that water infiltrates into the ground, so [beavers] help to recharge aquifers. From a salmon standpoint, they’re unbelievably critical. Think about what it’s like to be a baby salmon – you’re this tiny little creature that gets eaten by bigger fish and birds and all kinds of things, and you’re looking for a nice, slow bit of slack water in which you can take refuge. You don’t want to be in the main channel because then you just get blown downstream. For a juvenile salmon or trout, you can’t really conceive of better habitat than a beaver pond or wetland.”
Despite these benefits, current California beaver policy solely focuses on recreational hunting and lethal nuisance management. In response, the WATER Institute has launched a Bring Back the Beaver Campaign to educate citizens about the importance of beaver. In order to improve water supply for humans and the environment and increase resilience to drought and climate change, we are working to integrate their management into California policy and regulation. As well, there is now cutting edge litigation taking place in Oregon over the killing of beavers in which may set a precedent by highlighting the important role that the animals play in ecosystem health. Read the full article by clicking HERE. To learn more, contact Kate Lundquist (ext. 118) or Brock Dolman (ext. 106) or check out THESE BEAVER RESOURCES.
In recent Beaver News (winter 2017-2018), the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) published a great article, Beavers as Ecopartners; These aquatic mammals are helping restore parched ecosystems in the West. In the article, NWF also included recently published research on BDAs (Beaver Dam Analogues) which are man-made, artificial beaver dams that serve the same purpose and reap the same benefits of beaver-made dams. The article, which can be fully enjoyed by clicking HERE, goes on to say, “[s]ince 2015, salmon and trout are thriving with the help of the new beaver ponds, which expand surface water, recharge groundwater reserves and improve water quality by filtering and trapping sediments and recycling nutrients. Their shaded, deep pools also provide cool refuge for fish and support a wide diversity of wildlife.
NOAA Fisheries biologist Michael Pollock is monitoring the region’s BDAs and found that they have raised water tables up to 3 feet as far as 1,500 feet from the dams. In addition, the BDAs have kept water flowing through fish-filled, downstream side channels all summer long, habitat that previously dried up during that time. Pollock says the positive impacts of the BDAs have reached far further than anticipated. “We didn’t expect that,” he says. Additional ponds can’t come too soon. Pollock’s survey of Sugar Creek last fall found 6,400 juvenile coho and steelhead in BDA ponds, which currently can provide habitat for only up to 6,800. If just a few hundred fish come back to spawn, they might run out of room. “It is a good problem to have,” says Pollock.