Russian River Restoration

Bob Coey: In 2001, the population of coho in the Russian River was down to, certainly less than, 100 fish, potentially down to a population of about 10. NOAA’s involved in various restoration projects throughout the Russian River and the types of projects that we’re involved in are fish passage, habitat restoration for instream complexity, riparian projects to reduce temperature, erosion control, and projects to reduce streamflow velocity. The flows are elevated something like seven times above the natural flow level on the main stem Russian River. And the flows in Dry Creek are also elevated because of the releases out of Warm Springs Dam to supply water supply to nearly half a million people in Marin and Sonoma counties. We can’t reduce the flows because of the demand for water but we can spread the flows with projects like these to reduce the velocities, which is important because that creates the ideal rearing habitat for coho salmon. David Manning: Right here at Quivira Vineyard and Winery we’ve just started this work. We completed it last fall and this winter is the first time we’ve been able to see water in this habitat feature. What you see behind me looks more of less like a trench with logs and rocks but it is a channel designed to function when the stream is many times higher than it is right now. We measure stream flow in cubic feet per second. The stream right now behind us is running at about 200 cubic feet per second. When there are winter floods here and the fish need to get out of the way of that high water the flow goes up to 3,000 or 4,000 cubic feet per second. That fills this channel behind us, it’s actually designed to backwater, so it fills from the downstream end up, so fish can enter, hold there when the flow is really high, and as the water recedes, they swim out without getting trapped. We’ve been set on the mission to really document how these habitat improvements will increase the number of fish in the stream There are small tags that are implanted in these juvenile fish when they’re at the hatchery or they’re collected in the wild, as young fish, only a few inches long. This backwater channel has two antennas in it, those antennas just look like a loop of PVC pipe, they’re designed to detect the fish that carry these small tags as they enter these habitat features in the winter time. And we can literally know when those fish that have been tagged out in the main part of Dry Creek are coming and going from these habitat features. And we’ve had really interesting data just in the first winter here at Quivira, We’ve had hundreds of detections of fish coming and going from this habitat feature and we know they stay in it during these high flood events for up to a week at a time. So it’s an early indication that the fish are detecting and using these places We have both steelhead and coho salmon that have been detected coming and going from this habitat feature so early indications are that it’s working.

2 thoughts on “Russian River Restoration

  1. 🙁 you guys need to do something about the seal problem at the mouth of the Russian River on the beach… I watched a sad video of the seals eating all the steelhead and barely any were getting through to spawning areas up stream

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