SPAWN to Remove Central California’s Top-Priority Fish Barrier This Summer

Salmon Protection And Watershed Network

The Salmon Protection And Watershed Network (SPAWN) will manage another large-scale restoration project on the former San Geronimo golf course this summer to remove the highest-priority fish passage obstacle in central California, which currently limits the migration of endangered Coho Salmon and threatened Steelhead Trout and creates poor habitat conditions.

A Coho Salmon jumps through Roy’s Pools right after it was constructed in 1998. by Reuven Walder/SPAWN

In addition to providing critical habitat for young salmon, making valuable floodplain corridors for terrestrial wildlife movement, and greatly increasing the amount of trees for nesting birds, the “Roy’s Pools Fish Passage and Floodplain Restoration Project” will replace a failing pedestrian bridge with a new prefabricated bridge, linking trails and offering fish viewing over a wider, more complex, and stable creek channel.

“A restored creek channel and expanded riparian zone will provide unimpeded passage for Coho, Steelhead, Lamprey, and other fish through the watershed at all times of the year,” said Preston Brown, SPAWN’s director of watershed conservation. “Other wildlife including nesting birds, deer, bobcats, and more will benefit from a larger and more intact riparian area. A larger forest of trees and riparian plants will allow more opportunities for wildlife to hunt, forage, nest, rest, and find refuge along a naturally-flowing and healthier creek.”

SPAWN will remove this large obstruction of sheet metal, concrete check dams, and fish ladder (known as Roy’s Pools) that currently limits migration and creates poor habitat conditions for endangered Coho Salmon and threatened Steelhead Trout. by SPAWN

Throughout the construction process, SPAWN will lead tours of the restoration area and host workshops on topics such as stream bank stabilization, bioengineering, and native plant restoration. Once construction is complete, volunteers, students at partner schools, and other organizations will help plant thousands of additional native plants and trees to jump-start revegetation of the riparian area, which will ultimately result in more trees at the site than there are now.

“This project will be an excellent opportunity to learn about stream restoration and get involved with a local project within our community,” Brown said.

The Roy’s Pools Fish Passage and Floodplain Restoration Project is a collaborative project made possible by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Restoration Center, and the members and volunteers of Turtle Island Restoration Network, SPAWN’s parent organization.

In 1998, NOAA Fisheries developed designs for a series of pools composed of metal sheet piles, concrete, and large boulders to help get fish over the former Roy’s Dam. This effort resulted in the Roy’s Pools structure we know today. Although the conversion of Roy’s Dam to Roy’s Pools helped in getting adult fish over the dam, the Pools became traps for young fish. Stagnant water created breeding sites for mosquitoes and a home for invasive bullfrogs. In addition, the pools cut off access for young fish moving upstream and downstream of the site.

Volunteers learn how to plant redwoods to restore salmon habitat on the former San Geronimo golf course property, as part of one of the many important habitat restoration projects that SPAWN and other local groups have worked on for many years on the property. by SPAWN

In a collaborative effort beginning in 2012 with the Lee Family, the previous owners of the former San Geronimo golf course, SPAWN secured grant funds to design a functional restoration of the creek channel through the Roy’s Pools reach, where a natural channel would replace the metal and concrete structures. In 2012, SPAWN began the design process and hosted community meetings where neighbors gave input on the project and toured the site with the engineering team.

The SPAWN team is looking forward to continuing progress on the project
this summer.

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