Success! Coho Spawning Upstream of Mill Creek Fish Passage Project

In early December, 2016, coho salmon were seen spawning upstream of the recently completed dam removal project that PCI worked on in Mill Creek near Healdsburg. Staff from the Sonoma County Water Agency and the UC Cooperative Extension/CA Sea Grant’s Coho Monitoring Program documented the fish. A PCI employee also observed a female coho building a redd (nest) immediately upstream of the site while closely attended by two male coho.

The project was completed in October, 2016, by PCI working in partnership with Trout Unlimited, NOAA, CDFW, and neighboring landowners. It restores access to 11.2 miles of prime coho and steelhead habitat upstream of the removed flashboard dam. More detailed information about the project and Mill Creek’s importance as coho habitat can be found in the “Mill Creek fish passage featured in Climate.gov” post below and at: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/project/coho-salmon-monitoring/habitat-enhancement-monitoring.

As of January 4th, 2017, the Coho Monitoring Program estimated that at least 19 adult coho had made it past the remediated dam site. Program staff have also observed eight coho redds in the upper reaches of Mill Creek, which is more than have been seen in the past eleven years combined! This is a great success in the continued efforts towards coho recovery in the Russian River.
See link for a great video of coho spawning upstream of the Mill Creek dam remediation site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCZP-tZ18Qc

Coho salmon female and jack next to redd, upstream of Mill Creek Dam Fish Passage Project on 12/3/16. A jack is a male salmon that matures and returns one year earlier than other adult salmon to carry out spawning  and is thus smaller than other adults. Photo courtesy of The Coho Monitoring Program.

Mill Creek fish passage project featured on Climate.gov

NOAA’s website for “science and information for a climate-smart nation” featured the Mill Creek fish passage project we’ve been working hard on! Read more here:

https://www.climate.gov/news-features/features/dam-bypass-spells-victory-russian-river-salmon

Derek Acomb of California Department of Fish and Wildlife measures the flashboard dam on Mill Creek prior to remediation. The dam was creating a near-total barrier for endangered coho salmon in the Russian River to access prime spawning habitat above. Photo Credit: Prunuske Chatham, Inc.

Climate.gov also provides lots of other interesting information, from stories about climate adaptation to tons of maps and datasets to resources for teaching about climate.

Mill Creek fish passage project underway

PCI has been hard at work this summer on the Mill Creek fish passage project. Working with Trout Unlimited, we are restoring access for coho and steelhead to 11 miles of high quality upstream habitat.

PCI at work

PCI at work

 

New side channel

New side channel

 

PCIers on the Mill Creek site

PCIers on the Mill Creek site