We will be in good company this week at the 2022 Salmonid Restoration Conference in beautiful Santa Cruz.
PCI Principal Civil Engineer Luke Walton will be presenting Tuesday at a workshop on Restoration Approaches to Instream Large Wood Augmentation along with our colleagues at Trout Unlimited, Pacific Watershed Associates, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and others. Principal Hydrologist Christopher Woltemade will be presenting Friday at 10:30am on High-Resolution Water Budget Hydrology to Support Collaborative Water Management for Salmonid Recovery in the Mill Creek Watershed and Navarro River.
The theme of this year’s conference is Reconnecting with Resilience, and its central coast location is important to that theme.
“Santa Cruz is home to some of the southernmost populations of wild salmonids left in California,” the Agenda Packet states. “The conference will highlight lagoons, seascape ecology, ocean conditions, life history variation, and feature tracks on drought, climate, and hydrology; and another on physical habitat conditions and food webs.”
In September 2021, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 155 which provided a new California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) statutory exemption for restoration projects. PCI, along with partners at the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, was instrumental in working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Cutting the Green Tape Team to develop the first statewide habitat restoration statutory exemption–for the Lower Garcia River Estuary Salmonid Habitat Enhancement Project.
In the words of Peter van de Burgt, the North Coast Restoration Project Manager for TNC, and PCI alum: “This statutory exemption could not have come at a better time for the Garcia project, and it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to immediately put it into practice. I’m optimistic that the exemption will be an invaluable tool for implementing ambitious restoration projects in a more time- and cost-efficient manner than ever before, which is exactly what we need given the enormity of the challenges we face.”
The Lower Garcia River in coastal Mendocino County is important steelhead and coho salmon habitat. However, winter rearing and outmigration habitat in the estuary is limited due to a history of channelization and simplification for agricultural use, excessive sedimentation from upper watershed land use, and large woody debris clearing. The enhancement project is designed to increase in-channel and floodplain habitat through the middle estuary and expand access to the newly created habitat for salmonids during their most critical life stages. PCI has provided site assessment, design, planning, and regulatory compliance services to TNC for the project.
Our team worked hard to make this use of the new pathway possible, and we’re delighted to be part of the statewide effort to reduce hurdles for large-scale restoration work! PCI is proud to be part of a community that is committed to increasing the scale and pace of salmonid restoration across California.
PCI is thrilled to be working with the Redwood Coast Land Conservancy to develop a Conservation Plan for the 113-acre Mill Bend Preserve. This newly-acquired preserve lies at the mouth of the Gualala River, at the border of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties, and offers spectacular views of the estuary. It is adjacent to the town of Gualala to the north, and Gualala Point Regional Park to the south. PCI’s work includes assessment of the site’s rich resources, identifying restoration opportunities, and planning public access that protects sensitive habitats.
The McNear peninsula in the Petaluma River located downtown is in the process of becoming a beautiful art park. As the gateway to Sonoma County it will be what you first see when you enter the county on HWY 101 from the south. For residents and visitors to Petaluma it will offer a great addition to our public open space for recreation and river access. PCI is involved in the design and planning for the project and about to start phase 1 which includes initial public access and shoreline restoration. The park will ultimately be home to many large sculptures and other art installations.
The Kelly Creek project is moving forward with preparation of the Final EIR. PCI is working with Earth Island Institute and Sonoma County Regional Parks to design a project that includes restoration of the iconic red barns, new trails that connect into the 256-acre Helen Putnam Regional Park, parking lot with restrooms, children’s play area with native butterfly garden, creek restoration and pasture improvements. We are excited to continue design development and planning for the park.
Nathanson Creek flows through the city of Sonoma, past schools and homes, on its way to Schell Creek and San Pablo Bay. In the past, it frequently flooded during winter storms. The City of Sonoma, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma Water, and Sonoma County Ag + Open Space worked together to protect and restore a key half-mile reach of the stream. PCI was brought in to develop a restoration design that would simultaneously alleviate the chronic flooding and improve riparian habitat.
The project, completed in late 2018, transformed a flat, compacted, weedy gravel parking lot into beautiful, functional habitat. A side channel and wetland basin were created to provide more room for high flows and to allow for the gradual infiltration of runoff that is so important to water quality. Hundreds of native riparian and wetland plants were planted.
This winter’s robust rains tested the project, and it performed just as planned. Check it out when you are in the neighborhood! The Nathanson Creek Preserve welcomes the public to stroll along this lovely and functional riparian corridor; you can access it from E. MacArthur just east of Broadway.
PCI has been working with The Nature Conservancy since 2013 to plan, design, and find funding for projects to improve salmonid habitat value in the lower South Fork Ten Mile River and mainstem Ten Mile River in Mendocino County, California. The first of these projects was successfully constructed in the summer of 2018. Read on for local coverage of the project from Fort Bragg…
As recently covered in the Press Democrat, the nonprofit Kelly Creek Protection Project recently announced that it has succeeded in securing $4.1 million to purchase 44 acres adjacent to the popular Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma. The land had been proposed for housing by property owner Davidon Homes, but now may be added to the park instead. Davidon Homes will retain 14 adjacent acres, where it plans to build 28 homes. PCI’s Maggie Jensen has been the lead designer on the proposed park expansion project.
Kelly Creek runs through the property. A proposed new multi-use path would run along it and connect with the existing park’s six miles of trails. Other proposed park enhancements include rehabilitating the three red barns into an interpretive center, an amphitheater, livestock demonstration areas and a children’s playground.
Learn more about the Kelly Creek Park effort here.
PCI has worked with local and regional partners on a number of projects to help increase summer flows in coho streams. Designing water storage options allows water users to draw water when flows are high in winter, and then store it for summer use. That leaves more water in the streams in summer for coho and other aquatic creatures, when adequate cool, clean water is a critical need. The Westminster Woods tanks and water conservation mentioned in this video are one example of our work. We’re glad to be part of these important efforts to support healthy fish populations in west Sonoma County streams, and we’re thrilled to watch the positive results!