The Urban Streams Coordination (USC) program was created as a result of the Stream Conservation Area Ordinance. The USC program provides support and assistance to residents that live along Marin County’s creeks through educational workshops, presentations, watershed tours and site visits that can result in targeted restoration actions. The program provides coordination with County departments; Marin County Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program ( MCSTOPPP), Marin Watershed Program, Community Development Agency, Department of Public Works in addition to the various watershed and neighborhood organizations and associations. The program provides permitting assistance to property owners, who are pursuing projects that include development and/or restoration along the creeks of Marin, by collaborating with local, state and federal regulatory agencies. The USC program aims to facilitate communication among all stakeholders invested in the urban streams of Marin.

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When Feasible, Leave Wood In the Creeks, Please!

Keeping Wood in the Creek…

Why? Any strong storm can bring down trees, but after four years of drought, this winter we are seeing an especially large number of trees come down. It’s important to know that when trees fall into creeks, they become part of the creek channel in the eyes of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Fallen trees, as they sit, tumble and turn within the creek, are nature’s creek-architects: they shape the creek’s bed and banks, the way the creek meanders, and how sediment and floating wood debris within the creek move or accumulate; fallen wood also becomes home and shelter to a variety of aquatic wildlife, and in particular, salmon and steelhead.

What About Removal? Large wood is critical to the health of a creek for these reasons, but in some cases, it can conflict with the needs of the creekside landowner. Large fallen wood can sometimes divert the stream’s energy toward a bank, posing a threat of bank failure or other damage, or may have caused serious damage at the time it fell. These might be reasons why a landowner would feel the need to remove fallen wood that lies within a creek channel.

Permitting: If you need to remove wood from a stream, first you must notify the Department of Fish and Wildlife by filing a Lake or Streambed Alteration (1600 LSA) permit. As mentioned above, wood changes the creek’s bed and banks when it falls in; by removing it, a landowner is also causing change. The Marin RCD can assist landowners in filling out a 1600 LSA permit.

For landowners who encounter an emergency and need to remove fallen wood, they have 14 days after the removal to file an Emergency 1600 LSA permit notification. Please read the instructions for this permit closely to be sure your situation qualifies as an emergency.

Before You Remove Wood… Take note of any large wood situated in your creek. Some pieces of wood are part of structures that have been installed and secured to improve fish habitat by a local agency/organization. If you are removing fallen wood, please do not remove these structures or other pieces of wood that pose no threat to property. Above is a photo of one of MMWD’s many large wood debris installation projects in the Lagunitas Creek watershed. Learn more about the habitat and watershed benefits of fallen wood in our creeks.

Attention: Green Waste Days at West Marin Compost

The 2015-2019 free green waste drop off dates have ended. Stay tuned for 2020 dates. This is your opportunity for free and safe disposal of green waste yard materials such as branches, grass and light brush. No building materials. They are located at 5575 Nicasio Valley Road and can be reached by phone at 415 662 9849. Check out their webpage to learn more about West Marin Compost, Click HERE!

Attention: Household Hazardous Waste, Universal Waste, Bulb & Battery Take Back Program

Drop-off facilities provided through Marin County’s Department of Public Works for residents of Marin County that may bring paint, adhesives, motor oil, pesticides, household batteries, light bulbs, latex paint, computer monitors, televisions, household electronics, and bleach cleaners to the facility free of charge. For household hazardous waste drop off sites: and for e-waste drop off locations: Customers: Thursday – Saturday, 8am – 3:30pm. Call ahead for details. 565 Jacoby St., San Rafael Residential (415) 485-6806. 

Marin Resource Conservation District’s Urban Streams Program Manager

Sarah Phillips, Marin RCD’s Urban Streams Program Manager, monitoring salmonids in west Marin

Attending a Watershed Work Day with Green Gulch Zen Center in December, 2014 conducting restoration on a tributary to Redwood Creek, near Muir Beach.

Restoration in progress at the Green Gulch Zen Center in December, 2014

Sarah Phillips attending a Gallinas Creek watershed tour by Judy Shriebman from the Gallinas Watershed Council in November, 2014.
Judy and Sarah.for web

Photo Credit to Alex Kahl

Joining Trout Unlimited’s North Bay Chapter during a release of Trout in the Classroom into Bon Tempe Reservoir in April, 2015.

Eager for Their New Home

A Bittersweet Farewell

Assisting streamside residents in Marin through a San Geronimo Valley Stewards meeting in January, 2015.

Listening to Residents

 Helping SPAWN install a willow wall at Cheda Ranch to reduce creek bank erosion and increase riparian canopy cover in October, 2014.
Cheda Ranch Restoration

Cheda Ranch Restoration







Monitoring for steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) with Catie Clune from SPAWN in April, 2015.

Releasing Steelhead Smolts

Releasing Steelhead Smolts

Weighing Coho Fry

Weighing Coho Fry