Tricycle, a renowned Buddhist journal, has published an essay exploring Green Gulch Farm’s evolving relationship with coho salmon and Green Gulch Creek – a shift in consciousness that sparked restoration efforts designed by PCI in partnership with Green Gulch Farm and the San Francisco Zen Center, with funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Green Gulch Creek is a tributary to Redwood Creek in Marin County, one of the last streams south of Lagunitas Creek with a remaining wild run of coho salmon. The stream flows through Green Gulch Farm, one of California’s oldest continuously certified organic farms, and a meditation center operated by the San Francisco Zen Center. Historic realignment and hardening of the stream channel had degraded instream and riparian habitat.
The essay recounts the community’s ecological awakening upon discovery of a male coho spawning in the creek in the historically wet winter of 2004-2005. Author Bruce Byers writes:
The creek had shaped the valley and deposited the soil they were farming; and now, endangered salmon were trying to come back. “Our life as a community didn’t reflect the centrality of the creek to this place,” Sara [Tashker, Farm Manager and Longtime Resident] said. “That led us to a watershed view.”
PCI prepared a stream restoration design and assisted with securing the necessary permits and grant funding. Green Gulch Farm dedicated farmlands to the effort, which allowed the design to include a large meander through historically farmed lands. Without those dedicated lands, restoration efforts would have been limited.
Phase 1, recreation of the natural meandering channel at the downstream end, was constructed in 2014. Phase 2, reconnection of a tributary to flow back into Green Gulch Creek to restore sediment delivery and support summer streamflows, was completed in 2015. The primary focus of the project was providing summer rearing and winter refuge habitat for salmonids hatched in Green Gulch Creek as well as those rearing in the estuary area. The project also included construction of wood structures using redwood logs, rootwads, and trees salvaged onsite and revegetation of riparian and wetland habitat.
PCI is currently designing a streamflow enhancement project to improve summer rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon in Green Gulch Creek. The project will replace on-channel storage ponds with a new off-channel water storage reservoir, eliminating the need for summer water withdrawals from Green Gulch Creek. The decrease in summer withdrawals for irrigation will provide increased water during critical times for salmonids and other aquatic wildlife. The effort is funded by the Wildlife Conservation Board and supported by Marin Resource Conservation District.
The essay describes these efforts and features a meditation on the myriad ways humans impact their surrounding landscape. Read it in its entirety here.