By Mark Prado
Marin Independent Journal

Four coho salmon restoration projects for West Marin are collecting more than a half-million dollars in state grant money to help the endangered species.

The money comes from the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration grant program. In all, $525,307 in grants were issued earlier this month to the Salmon Protection And Watershed Network, Trout Unlimited and the Marin County Department of Public Works for work in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.

SPAWN received two grants, one focusing on designing and improving fish migration passage at Roy’s Pools, while working closely with the San Geronimo Golf Course.

“We are excited to continue working with the San Geronimo Golf Course, which is one of the largest private landowners in San Geronimo Valley, to make Roy’s Pools as fish-friendly as possible,” said Todd Steiner, biologist and executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network’s SPAWN program. “The genesis for SPAWN was a result of my initial discovery 15 years ago that coho salmon were unable to get over Roy’s Dam, so today it is gratifying to be working once again to continue to improve this key fish passage issue.”

The second project will involve working with Point Reyes National Seashore to develop a restoration and enhancement plan for a mile-long stretch of stream just west of Samuel P. Taylor State Park. It focuses on returning land parcels that stretch from the creek edge to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard back to native habitat, and on restoring creek hydrologic function to improve floodplains and fish habitat.

“Right now, this mile-long stretch is a mess of abandoned houses, garages, retaining walls, driveways and a plethora of non-native plants located in the creek’s floodplain,” Steiner said.

Trout Unlimited, North Bay Chapter, which has a long history of work in the Devil’s Gulch and Lagunitas Creek Watershed also received funding to put large woody debris in streams. The goal is to increase the survival of juvenile coho salmon with the woody debris increasing the number of pools as well as pool depth, while enhancing summer rearing habitat and providing refuge during the winter and spring.

A Marin County Public Works project will develop plans and engineer five habitat enhancement projects that aim to restore habitat and riparian function, while protecting water quality and restoring fish passage and providing safe places for young fish to hide during high flows in San Geronimo Creek.

Coho were said to be in an “extinction vortex” after its numbers dipped to all-time lows four years ago. But numbers have been on the rise since then. This year preliminary watershed totals show 433 fish and 203 redds, or egg nests. Those numbers are roughly double the size of the coho run three years ago.

“Restoration of coho salmon habitat in the Lagunitas Creek watershed is critical to the recovery of the species in the Central California Coast region,” said Gail Seymour, senior environmental scientist with the department of fish and wildlife, who called the grant process “highly competitive.”

She added the state will work with the organizations “toward our common goal to recover our native salmonid species.”

Contact Mark Prado via email at

Read the story over at the Marin Independent Journal here.