NOAA Gives $1.5 M to Improve Salmon Habitat

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (RCD) $1.54 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 (ARRA) for the Save our Salmon (SOS) - Salmon Creek Habitat Rehabilitation Project.

According to a July 3 press release, the SOS project is a collaborative vision of the RCD and Prunuske Chatham, Inc., to improve instream habitat, create local jobs, and support water supply sustainability for the town of Bodega, Calif.

"This project demonstrates the power of partnership," said Lisa Hulette, executive director for the Gold Ridge RCD. "In the Salmon Creek Watershed, where farming and fisheries interests have been at odds for many years, environmental conservation groups, the agricultural community, and local organizations have joined together to collaborate on a project that restores critical salmon habitat, develops sustainable community infrastructure, and creates jobs."

Salmon Creek is located within the Bodega Hydrologic Unit in the California Central Coast Evolutionary Significant Unit. In addition to now hosting a fledgling coho population, Salmon Creek is part of the Sonoma Coast State Marine Conservation Area, a State Marine Protected Area (California Marine Life Protection Initiative 2007). In the face of climate change and a sharp regional decline in salmon populations over the past two years, the stakes for keeping the newly re-introduced coho going and the steelhead returning are very high. Salmon Creek watershed is becoming regionally renowned for its forward-thinking, collaborative, nonregulatory driven restoration program, and is often cited as a model for other watershed efforts.

The NOAA funding will allow project partners and landowners to move forward with multiple restoration approaches on two critical rearing reaches for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout by installing rain catchment tanks to increase instream summer flows, planting native vegetation, and implementing other stream-related restoration activities to improve fisheries habitat.

"This project is one part of a long-term watershed vision held by many groups and individuals to bring the salmon back to Salmon Creek. We are thrilled that all the hard work that has been put into developing the vision, the project, and the community connections is being recognized by our federal agencies. There is a real opportunity here to make a difference for Salmon Creek watershed, for our neighbors in the town Bodega and for the fish, and we are excited to be in this partnership with Gold Ridge RCD," said Lauren Hammack, lead scientist for Prunuske Chatham, Inc.

Prunuske Chatham Inc., will be performing community facilitation, construction management, final field design and specifications as needed, and parts of the construction associated with the SOS program.

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