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State grants to Marin will help local endangered fish at golf course, other locales

Marin’s fish will be the beneficiaries of $1 million in state grants that will be used to improve creek habitat, including in the San Geronimo Golf Course.

West Marin’s Salmon Protection and Watershed Network was awarded two of the four grants this month from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program.

One of the projects will improve the flood plain and stream habitat in San Geronimo Creek, which runs through the golf course.

A SPAWN team will design a plan to restore historical flood plains along the creek, and create side channels and backwaters that provide juvenile endangered coho salmon with a place to rest before they go out to sea. Wood structures to create deep pools also will be placed in the creek.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for San Geronimo Golf Course to do our small part to help protect the endangered salmon,” said Jennifer Kim, executive director of the golf course. “In the end, we hope the community and the endangered fish all benefit.”

This project is the second part of a larger habitat restoration design project happening at the golf course, which includes the restoration of Roy’s Pools, currently underway.

The San Geronimo Golf Course has approved the project. When both projects are completed the entire San Geronimo Creek that runs through the course will be restored and enhanced for coho salmon.

A second grant to SPAWN will enhance riparian habitat at the former Redi-mix concrete plant along Lagunitas Creek, near the confluence with Nicasio Creek.

SPAWN will remove an unused parking lot and create 12,000 square feet of riparian habitat. Additionally, 1,000 trees will be planted and invasive plants will be removed throughout a one-mile stretch downstream of the plant to help restore a forested area.

“We are grateful to local landowners like the owners San Geronimo Golf Course and Black Mountain Ranch (which owns the land at the concrete plant) for allowing us to work on their property to protect and restore coho salmon,” said Todd Steiner, SPAWN’s executive director. “We are making the most fish friendly golf course on the planet.”

A state grant to the Marin Municipal Water District provides funding for placing several wood structures in lower Lagunitas Creek to improve flood plain habitat for young and adult salmon. Those three grants provide $665,000.

Finally, the Marin Resource Conservation District will receive a $344,000 grant to implement sediment control plans at 31 sites and along 3.25 miles of road to prevent sediment from entering Lagunitas Creek, which can smother fish nests and degrade water quality. While the projects will help all fish, it’s the coho salmon that need the most help. The species has been said to be on the “verge of extinction,” with a recovery target at 2,600 fish in Marin’s system, according to federal officials. The most seen since 2000 was 625 in the winter of 2004-05. This past season saw roughly 300 in county creeks and streams.