Conservation and Restoration

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Devils Gulch

Devil's Gulch 2015

North Bay Trout Unlimited has completed 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. NBTU, together with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Dragonfly Consulting, restored woody structure in eight locations along this creek, reversing some of the adverse effects attributable to a history of logging in the area. This project is the latest effort by NBTU in their over 30 years of restoration work in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.

What will this project accomplish? By slowing down flows during periods of rainfall in winter, it provides shelter for fish during peak run-off periods and helps maintain spawning areas. This shelter will also allow juvenile fish to grow larger before they migrate out to sea in the spring. During summer, the woody habitat will result in the creation of pools and cover, keeping the creek cool and allowing fish to hide from predators. Please go to https://vimeo.com/103375891 to learn why large woody debris is so important.

The North Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the coho and steelhead of Devil’s Gulch, are grateful to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Marin Municipal Water District, California State Parks, Dragonfly Consultants, and Doug Gore for their assistance and collaboration in connection with this project; and to the California Department of Fish and Game and Patagonia for their financial support. The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Quisque congue porttitor ullamcorper. Suspendisse nec congue purus.

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Millerton creek

NBTU is currently raising funds to support the restoration of Millerton Creek in western Marin County. Millerton Creek is a coastal stream that flows through Millerton Ranch into Tomales Bay in Marin County California. It historically supported a healthy population of steelhead, prior to the construction of a migration barrier created as part of a quarry operation operated by a former owner. The Ranch is now owned by the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and will be subject to a permanent conservation easement following its transfer to the current lessees in 2018. It is a working agricultural operation, and is now the focus of an integrated effort that includes restoration of the creek, riparian fencing and water quality improvement, and a carbon sequestration plan. The creek restoration effort involves a multiphase plan which will facilitate the recovery of the steelhead. In Phase I (for which funding is being sought), it will identify those factors limiting steelhead recovery, which will include the removal of the migration barrier. We are seeking funding for this initial assessment phase of the project. Subsequent phases including implementation would build on Phase I.

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Redwood creek

NBTU hosted its fifth and final Redwood Creek workday of 2015 on Saturday, November 14th. Twelve NBTU volunteers along with several other volunteers groups, including local tutoring company Sage Educators, split in to three groups. One of the groups removed weed barrier fabric around temporary planting beds as a first-step toward returning the area to its natural state. The two other groups pulled bristly ox tongue, an invasive weed, and cattails around the creek to prepare the area for plating later this winter.

If you are interested in participating in Redwood Creek or other restoration projects, please send an email to Info@NBTU.org.

History

1980's: A fish ladder is constructed on Lagunitas Creek to provide downstream passage for juvenile fish. Habitat restoration includes planting trees and willows, installing erosion barriers, fencing off stream access from cattle, and creating holding areas for young fish. Hatch boxes are placed in tributaries of Lagunitas Creek and rearing troughs are erected with the subsequent release of 60,000 coho salmon eggs.

Early 1990’s: Habitat work is undertaken to stabilize spawning gravel beds in the stretch of Lagunitas Creek immediately below Kent Lake. Returns of wild coho salmon begin to improve with over 500 coho salmon returning in 1995. Informational kiosk and plaque honoring Leo T. Cronin are installed in 1995 at the Salmon Viewing Area near Shafter Bridge.

Late 1990’s: Planning begins for the removal of Roy's Dam with the help of an Embrace-A Stream grant from TU National. NBTU rallies local support and gets approval from several government agencies. In 1999, Roy's Dam is removed and construction of what is now known as Roy's Pools is completed providing miles of new spawning habitat. Bruce Babbitt, the Secretary of the Interior, attends the dedication and NBTU receives national TV coverage of its efforts.

2000 to 2010: NBTU receives an Embrace-A-Stream grant and NBTU begins work in partnership with the Point Reyes National Seashore on restoring Devil’s Gulch, a major tributary of Lagunitas Creek. Fencing is installed to keep cattle away from the stream where wild coho salmon and steelhead are spawning. A second Embrace-A-Stream grant provides for trail restoration and the replacement of three footbridges along Devil's Gulch allowing better protection for spawning fish from human exposure. Three failing culverts are removed and replaced by wet crossings, preventing hundreds of cubic yards of sediment from entering the creek and destroying sensitive spawning habitat. Funding was provided from a California Department of Fish and Wildlife grant.

NBTU in conjunction with the National Park Service and California State Parks Department continues trail improvements at Devil’s Gulch and installs an 18' long footbridge, adding to visitor safety and reducing human intrusion into spawning areas. NBTU volunteers conduct several fish rescue events over the years to transport stranded fish from diminishing summer pools. NBTU, the State and National Parks Departments and other environmental groups sponsor a symposium on the salmon restoration efforts at Lagunitas Creek. NBTU expands its restoration activity to the Redwood Creek Watershed, organizing several workdays to plant native plants in the Muir Beach Lagoon.

2010 to date:  In the Redwood Creek watershed, NBTU sponsors volunteer workdays at Muir Beach and the Redwood Creek Nursery to restore the Redwood Creek watershed to its natural state as part of a multi-year restoration project.

In the Lagunitas watershed, NBTU successfully obtains grant funding for a four phase habitat restoration project at Devil’s Gulch to reduce human interference with spawning fish, reduce erosion along the stream bed and provide refuge for young fish. There are four phases in the project.

Phase I is completed in August 2010. Five work teams install six signs to notify park visitors of the fragile habitat, repair a bridge damaged by a fallen tree and construct 100 feet of split-rail cedar fencing to reduce the possibility of coho salmon and steelhead being disturbed while spawning during the winter by park visitors. Funding for Phase 1 is provided through a grant from the Marin Fish & Wildlife Foundation.  Ralph Alexander and Associates develop plans and supervised the work.

Phase II is completed in November 2010 and focuses on eliminating erosion around the creek. Nine wattles (stray-filled burlap tubes) are installed on the Barnabee Trail to provide basins for sediment to accumulate instead of entering the creek.  Eighteen plants are relocated into channels created by runoff in hopes of stabilizing the stream banks. A bridge (previously installed by NBTU) is repaired and 60 feet of split-rail fencing is installed to eliminate foot traffic on the creek banks.  In October 2011 and November 2012, the wattles are replaced in advance of the rainy season and additional fencing installed to keep visitors on the trail and away from the creek.  A number of steelhead and coho fry are spotted on both outings. In October 2013, NBTU completes the repair of a wet crossing with grants from the Rockey Foundation, TU National’s Embrace-A-Stream program and Patagonia.

In 2015, NBTU, with funding and assistance provided by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife installed woody debris in eight locations in Devil’s Gulch, which will enhance habitat for endangered coho and threatened steelhead populations.

Phase III is currently awaiting approval by the CA State Parks and will re-route a portion of the trail to eliminate human contact with the fish. Funding has been received from CDFW for Phase IV, the installation of large woody debris at eight sites in Devil’s Gulch Creek.