For Immediate Release
Executive Director, Turtle Island Restoration Network
cell: (415) 488-7652
Marin Salmon Receive a $935,000 Holiday Gift from California Fish & Wildlife
SPAWN Awarded $935,000 to Restore Salmon Habitat
Olema, Calif. (December 27, 2016) — Turtle Island Restoration Network’s program called, SPAWN – the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network) received welcome news that it received a $935,000 grant award by Ca Fish & Wildlife Department to implement its “Lagunitas Creek Floodplain & Riparian Restoration, Tocaloma CA” project to restore floodplains and improve habitat for critically endangered coho salmon on National Park Service lands near Olema, CA. The funds are part of Ca Fish & Wildlife Department Watershed Restoration & Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program and were given “to support this important initiative to further watershed restoration and protection projects of statewide importance,” according to the Department.
The project, builds upon Turtle Island’s partnership with Point Reyes National Seashore to re-wild the ghost towns of Tocaloma and Jewel after the recent removal of dozens of abandoned houses and structures along a one-mile stretch of Lagunitas Creek just west of Samuel P. Taylor State Park along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.
Initial studies organized by SPAWN have indicated that tens of thousands of cubic yards of fill were placed in the floodplain during the construction of these homes decades ago, limiting survival of overwintering juvenile salmon who normally seek refuge in floodplains to escape high flow storm events.
“This exciting project will re-create habitat necessary for the survival and recovery of critically endangered coho salmon, and will correct poor land development policies of the past,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island.
One of SPAWN’s largest habitat restoration projects to date, the project is a partnership with Point Reyes National Seashore, CA Fish & Wildlife Department, California Coastal Conservancy and the members of Turtle Island to restore a mile of creekside habitat. To date the project partners have contributed $990,000 in funds and resources to conduct the necessary biological, engineering and State and National environmental compliance studies necessary to remove the structures before beginning the actual habitat restoration.
“In addition to recreating floodplain habitat, we will be installing large woody debris structures in the creek, creating back channel habitat, and removing and replacing invasive non-native plants with native species grown in our native plant nursery,” said Preston Brown, SPAWN’s watershed biologist and project manager.
The project is not yet a “done deal,” according to Steiner. “We are still looking for local ‘angels’ to fill the funding gap and help bring this amazing project to fruition. We still need to raise nearly $700,000 of ‘matching’ funds from non-California State government funding sources in order to receive the State funding, and this is a big stretch for us. But it is critically important to salmon recovery, so we will continue to work tirelessly throughout 2017 to make sure it happens,” he said.
Brown noted that part of the matching funding will come in the form of volunteer time provided by the hundreds of SPAWN volunteers and interns each year who donate their time to salmon recovery he helps to arrange. “This is an inspiring project for everyone involved and we love to organize these fantastic coalitions of organizations and individuals to get the job done. We hope to break ground this summer.”
Turtle Island Restoration Network (SeaTurtles.org) is an international marine conservation organization headquartered in California whose 200,000+ members and online activists work to protect sea turtles, salmon and marine biodiversity in the United States and around the world. For 25 years, Turtle Island Restoration Network has mobilized people to preserve oceans, restore rivers and streams, and protect the marine wildlife – from sea turtles to sharks – that call these blue-green waters home. SPAWN, the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SeaTurtles.org/salmon) is a program of Turtle Island focused on the protection and recovery of endangered salmon and the restoration of habitat in Marin County, Calif.