A new Stream Conservation Area Ordinance (SCA) that could determine the fate of coho salmon in California is coming before the Marin County Board of Supervisors this March.
Despite being protected by the U.S. and California Endangered Species Act, Coho Salmon populations have plummeted 95% from their historic population numbers. They have been driven to near extinction by urbanization, habitat loss, and climate change.
The tiny 9 square mile San Geronimo Valley holds 10% of the spawning habitat for central coast coho, making this one the vital coho spawning habitats in all of California. Yet even here, the actual number of fish is tragically low, averaging only 250 remaining adults returning to spawn each year. As the valley goes, so does the Salmon, making it paramount to preserve and protect the little remaining riparian habitat we have left.
For two decades, SPAWN has tried to persuade Marin supervisors to pass a science-based, common sense SCA ordinance to protect the salmon’s critical habitat. With urban development continuing, SPAWN sued the county and won a series of important legal victories in State Court found that Marin County’s plan to urbanize the watershed violated the California Environmental Quality Act. To mitigate any impacts, the county must enact create a science-based SCA to protect the streams from being overdeveloped.
Unfortunately, the current draft ordinance is plagued with problems that will allow continued destruction of habitat and cause coho salmon habitat and numbers to decline toward extinction.
- Excessive development is permitted within the SCA
- Poorly written language unnecessarily burdens the homeowners
- The SCA lacks any provisions for inspection or enforcement to ensure compliance
We need more than a toothless document.
Warming oceans coupled with a higher probability of infrequent rain events are already creating an uphill battle for Coho Salmon to return to their native spawning grounds. For this species to survive, we must protect what little unimpaired streams we have left. Take action now by letting the Marin County Board of Supervisors know that they need to adopt a common-sense science-based Ordinance that follows the California Environmental Quality Act and protects salmonids for generations to come!