Since 2015, PCI has been working with the Nature Conservancy, BLM, the Stornetta Brothers Ranch, and many other partners to restore crucial coho salmon habitat in the Garcia River estuary. The complex habitat features that young salmonids need to survive and thrive have been lost from this important estuary over time. PCI designed multiple engineered log jams and connected off-channel habitat so that juvenile coho can find refuge from high flows and find rich food resources while sheltered from predators. The project was installed last year and monitoring shows that multitudes of young fish are already using the new habitat features just as we hoped. The PCI team is thrilled to see many years’ hard work and collaboration coming to fruition! Click below to see TNC’s new video about the project and learn more.
PCI congratulates Lauren Hammack on winning Restorationist of the Year at the 40th Annual Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) Conference! SRF first presented the award in 1992 to Bill Eastwood, co-director of the Eel River Salmon Restoration Project, to honor grassroots salmonid habitat restorationists. Since 1998 SRF has honored a restorationist each year with a roast, a toast and a brass sculpture created by sculptor Dick Crane. The title reflects Lauren’s tireless work dedicated to the recovery of salmonid habitat, specifically her geomorphology design and construction work along the Ten Mile River and throughout the Garcia River estuary in recent years. Way to go Lauren! (Scroll to see more photos of Lauren’s award and other PCI shenanigans at the 2023 SRF conference. Note: All PCI-purchased swim noodles used for the skit pictured in the last photo were donated to the Sebastopol Ives Swim Pool Summer Learn-to-Swim program).
Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted a General Order and Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) that will help PCI and our partners streamline permitting and implementation for important habitat restoration projects.
The State Water Board adopted the General Order and certified the PEIR for Restoration Projects Statewide on August 16.
Previously, the State Water Board issued a general Water Quality Certification for small habitat restoration projects. Projects could only qualify if they did not exceed five acres or a cumulative total of 500 linear feet of stream bank or coastline. Larger restoration projects often had to obtain individual water quality certifications and/or waste discharge requirements, and securing individual authorization was time-consuming and increased the cost of regulatory compliance.
The adoption of the new General Order and accompanying PEIR was eagerly anticipated according to PCI Principal Environmental Planner/Project Manager Carrie Lukacic.
“The General Order not only makes it easier and less cumbersome to secure a permit from the Regional Water Board, it may provide CEQA compliance for restoration projects,” she says. “We are excited to work with our local folks at the Regional Water Board and look forward to introducing the use of available permitting efficiencies to others not as familiar with the use of the tools available for permitting restoration activities. We now have a method to permit both large- and small-scale restoration, which should help increase the pace and scale of critical habitat improvement needs.”
The General Order will provide coverage for the following kinds of restoration projects: -Improvements to Stream Crossings and Fish Passage -Removal of Small Dams, Tide Gates, Flood Gates, and Legacy Structures -Bioengineered Bank Stabilization -Restoration and Enhancement of Off-Channel and Side-Channel Habitat -Water Conservation Projects -Floodplain Restoration -Removal or Remediation of Pilings and Other In-Water Structures -Removal of Nonnative Terrestrial and Aquatic Invasive Species and Revegetation with Native Plants -Establishment, Restoration, and Enhancement of Tidal, Subtidal, and Freshwater Wetlands -Establishment, Restoration, and Enhancement of Stream and Riparian Habitat -Upslope Watershed Sites
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…
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!