The San Geronimo Creek and San Geronimo Creek Valley Golf Course share more than a name: the creek has the highest numbers of spawning salmon in the watershed and the golf course has
some of the best spawning habitat on the creek.
Golf courses are not often viewed as wildlife-friendly. But in the San Geronimo Valley, a unique collaboration between the privately owned golf course, environmental organizations and
government agencies that are often times at loggerheads, has quietly been flourishing and producing a wealth of improved habitat conditions for spawning and baby endangered coho
salmon and steelhead. Since the dismantling of Roy’s Dam and the creation of Roy’s Pools on the golf course several
years ago to help salmon more easily migrate upstream, the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) has been working with the golf course to further improve salmon habitat on
this unique property. Now SPAWN has brought together a wide partnership that will transform parts of the golf greens
into new riparian habitat in a great win-win situation.
Partners include the golf course who is allowing the plan to go forward and will provide logistical support and supply water to irrigate the new plants until they become established;
California Fish & Game, who has provided a grant and some of its Americorps workers to help; the Marin/Sonoma Resource Conservation District and Regional Water Quality Control Board,
who hired the respected restoration firm of Prununske and Chatham to design the bank erosion repair (with technical input from theirs and other staffs including Pt Reyes National Seashore,
MMWD and Trout Unlimited); PG&E who will be relocating a utility pole free of charge to allow the bank stabilization to proceed; Marin Conservation Corps Project Regen youth groups;
and numerous members of the community that are donating their equipment, their manpower, and sharing their knowledge .
What will this partnership accomplish?
For the Fish and Wildlife:
* Several thousand square feet of the current “greens” will be converted to critical “riparian”
habitat for the salmon providing needed shade, and food sources in the form of insects that the
salmon eat, and additional cover from predators.
* The enlarged buffer area will mean less fertilizer and pesticides that could enter the waterway.
* Erosion of stream banks will be decreased, reducing unwanted sediment that smothers fish eggs
and fills in pools the baby salmon need to use during the summer dry season.
* Thousands of native trees and shrubs will be planted that will provide nesting and foraging sites
for birds, habitat for invertebrates, and improved migratory pathways for fish and wildlife.
For the Golf Course and Golfers
* Current areas that are now watered, mowed, fertilized and sprayed with chemicals will no
longer need to be maintained, saving the golf course money!
* A fence will reduce the number of balls lost to golfers when they “slice” their drive.
* The native plants and erosion site repair will help prevent bank erosion that could be costly to
repair in the future.
* New signage will inform the golfers and educate them about the magnificent salmon they share
their course with.
For the Community
* Numerous opportunities to participate in hands-on native plant propagation and restoration
* Improved quality of aquatic life downstream by reduction of sediment, fertilizers and
For the Organizations and Agencies
* Excellent value by stretching limited public resources used to protect the environment through
the use of volunteers and pro bono assistance.
* PG&E, who will save (their and our) dollars doing “preventative” pole relocation now, instead
of having a (sure to come) emergency pole failure in the middle of a violent storm.
* Good will and a model for future collaborations.
As this project continues to evolve over the next year, we want to continue to grow the
partnership. We hope many students and teachers will use this project to explore experiential
learning opportunities, and we look forward to many of you will also join us as we create a better
place for all living things in our community.