Restoration Roadmap for Golf Course
The rolling 110-acre San Geronimo Golf Course in rural West Marin is in many ways the last hope for California’s endangered costal coho salmon. It is one of the last large uninterrupted parcels of creekside habitat where a lot of potential exists to restore and improve critical habitat for the benefit of our native coho salmon.
The lush golf course is situated within the floodplains of two coho-salmon-bearing creeks where up to 50 percent of entire Lagunitas Creek Coho Salmon population spawns alongside trout and Chinook salmon. The golf course hosts critical spawning and rearing habitat for adult and juvenile coho salmon that is in need of major restoration.
Since 1999 SPAWN has worked with the golf course to restore in-stream salmon habitat and improve the health of the riparian buffer zones by planting thousands of native plants along the creek banks.
In 2012, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife awarded SPAWN a grant to develop a restoration and stewardship management plan for the golf course. This crucial plan is near completion and will soon offer a restoration roadmap to the golf course owners and managers.
SPAWN’s management plan highlights easy and diverse ways to improve habitat for the coho salmon. The plan calls for direct habitat restoration projects such as increasing floodplain habitat and riparian buffer zones, and installing logs and woody debris in steams to provide shelter for salmon. The plan also focuses on improving water quality conditions of irrigated runoff from the course and stormwater runoff from buildings, parking areas, and other impervious surfaces. It also addresses methods for reducing pesticide and fertilizer use as well as strategies for controlling invasive aquatic species that prey on young salmon.
The golf course has been a great partner in helping SPAWN in our efforts to restore the Lagunitas Creek Coho Salmon and their critical habitat. SPAWN is excited to finalize this management plan and begin the design phase of the anticipated projects.
Salmon Migrating to the Sea
The waters of Arroyo, Larson and San Geronimo Creeks are alive from March to June year with silver splashes of young Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout. These young fish, known as smolts, make the dangerous journey downstream to the open ocean changing and growing as they go to adapt to the salt-water environment they will soon enter.
Lagunitas Coho Salmon are federally listed as Endangered. Only around 5,000 adults remain today from a population that formerly produced over 100,000 spawning fish.
During this critical outmigration, SPAWN biologists, interns and dedicated volunteers don tan waders and rain boots and set up smolt traps in the creeks to count the fish. As the traps temporarily capture live fish, they must be checked seven days a week.
Bob Minekheim is a citizen scientist volunteer with SPAWN who helps monitor these traps three days a week. Bob’s assistance and that of state Assemblymember Marc Levine and his children, students and teachers from Montessori de Terra Linda school, and students from Sir Francis Drake High School has been tremendously helpful in conducting research.
(No sign of smolting)
(Silver color, some loose scales, faint parr marks)
(All silver, loose scales, clear fins)
*Data as of May 13, 2014. (Note: We are no longer monitoring fry. Over 4,000 steelhead fry were caught and released from our traps. Coho fry emerge from the gravel later, and can be seen in our streams now. You can distinguish them from the steelhead fry because of their sickle-shaped anal fin and white line along the leading edge of the anal and dorsal fins).
This research is part of a long term monitoring project that SPAWN operates with funding from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and in close collaboration with the National Park Service and Marin Municipal Water District. Long-term monitoring is key to understanding our conservation successes and the effectiveness of our habitat restoration projects as we work towards federally established recovery goals.
Meet Jeremy Rich, our newest SPAWN native plant intern
We are delighted to welcome Jeremy Rich to our native plant nursery team for the summer! Jeremy brings with him a wealth of knowledge about California plants as well as a strong conservation ethic.
Jeremy has a degree in Agricultural Management and Range Land Resources from the University of California at Davis, and he is passionate about protecting wildlife. After graduating, he began surveying and educating ranchers near his family’s home in the Sierra Nevada foothills about reintroducing Pronghorn Antelope and Tule Elk onto private and public lands.
Jeremy is the guy to talk to about science fiction, California condors and olive oil! Be sure to say ‘hi’ to Jeremy next time you stop by or volunteer with SPAWN.