Willow Creek Featured in Bay Nature Magazine

Willow Creek, a tributary to the Russian River’s estuary in Sonoma County, has a distressing but familiar history with respect to salmon and steelhead populations. Logging and agriculture prior to 1900 increased surface erosion; subsequent channel modifications trapped sediment. Today, so much sediment has accumulated that it has buried key habitat for juveniles, eliminating pools and restricting migration routes as fish navigate toward the ocean.

A diverse coalition of federal, state and local organizations is working to bring salmon and steelhead back. PCI has participated in an ongoing, multi-pronged approach to ecological restoration in the watershed since the mid-1990s. Now, a fresh injection of federal dollars will aid in the continued restoration of this crucial habitat, as outlined in this Bay Nature article.

“[Gold Ridge RCD] has received $8.4 million in federal money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to begin undoing some of the impacts of roads, farms, and logging along two key tributaries to the Russian River,” writes Alistair Bland, author of the article. “The funding comes as part of $491 million now being doled out over the next five years to marine and aquatic habitat-restoration projects around the country.”

PCI is assisting Gold Ridge RCD in designing and permitting this critical work, which may involve restoring off-channel ponds, increasing channel connectivity,  or building wood structures to provide refuge and habitat complexity.

“A year or more will pass before much of this work even begins, as the grant will largely support assessment and planning,” the article states. “[B]ut the hope is to start nudging the needle toward coho recovery.”

Read the full story here.