A message from Todd Steiner, Executive Director of Turtle Island Restoration Network:
On November 14, 2017, after a raucous public hearing attended by nearly 300 residents, Marin County Supervisors voted unanimously to purchase the 157-acre San Geronimo Golf Course to create public open space and to benefit endangered coho salmon. Opponents of the purchase included an organized vocal minority of golfers, anti-tax proponents and private property rights followers.
Thankfully, our Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) program team organized our supporters: folks like you. Together, we generated over 1,800 individual supporter letters to Marin County Supervisors and scores of people showed up to testify at the hearing, including elementary and high school students, environmentalists, parents, cyclists, and residents of Marin who see the value in open space and protecting our resources.
We also obtained letters of support and resolutions from government officials, agencies and organizations including the Marin Municipal Water District, Lagunitas Technical Advisory Committee and the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture.
Today, Marin’s coho salmon and steelhead trout populations hang on by a thread— teetering on the edge of extinction. This golf course is one of the last places in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides nesting grounds for endangered coho. Why? Because it is one of the few places where we haven’t developed right up to the water’s edge.
SPAWN’s first project was moving endangered salmon past Roy’s Dam barrier on the San Geronimo Golf Course. Ever since we got the first fish over the dam, one of my visions was to rewild this property so it could provide the ecological services that once supported enormous runs of salmon and steelhead trout.
To rewild is to return an area of land to its natural state. Replacing sod and fill that was trucked in to create the golf course with floodplains and native plants will allow the San Geronimo Creek to once again meander across the valley floor as it had done for thousands of years. This kind of restoration work could give refuge to baby salmon who need slow, quiet waters to survive storm events, and provide sheltered paths for bobcats and fox to move from the ridgeline to the main creek below.
Permanent protection as open space will preserve over $1,000,000 of public and private restoration funds our SPAWN program has raised and already invested on the property, and assure continuation of the $3,000,000 of enhancements that we currently have in process. These restorations will ensure that everyone will be welcome to visit and watch the coho salmon spawn around Roy’s Dam.
This purchase benefits the San Geronimo Valley community and all Marin residents by one day providing safe and healthy walking connectors, saving over 49 million gallons every year of municipal water used to water grass, eliminating the use of fertilizers and pesticides that get into our water and air, re-creating floodplains that will help reduce flooding of downstream creekside houses, and allowing for the planting of redwood trees that help fight climate change.
We applaud Marin County Supervisor Rodoni for taking the initiative and thank all Marin County Supervisors for their support. We view this purchase as a heightened commitment to protect endangered salmon, which in turn creates an opportunity to build a more collaborative relationship between Turtle Island Restoration Network and the County.