by Gregory Andrew, Fishery Program Manager
I recently presented a report to the Watershed Committee on the district’s fisheries activities during 2012 and 2013. These activities include monitoring, habitat enhancement, and collaboration with the many agencies and organizations working on salmon restoration for Lagunitas Creek and other coastal watersheds.
Our monitoring is rigorous and we are now part of a state-wide effort for life-cycle monitoring, tracking salmon population trends in coastal streams throughout California. We conduct surveys during all the life stages of salmon while they are in Lagunitas Creek: juveniles (a.k.a. fry, young-of-the-year, parr or fingerlings); adult spawners; and smolts (the stage when they migrate to the ocean). There is positive news to report on the coho population in particular. At all three life stages, the coho in Lagunitas have shown an increase from the scary-low numbers of three and four years ago. The coho spawner run this past winter approached our long-term average of about 500 adults. This doesn’t mean that their recovery is complete, but it is a huge improvement over what had been characterized as an extinction vortex.
We have been successful at obtaining grants to help us implement habitat enhancement projects and assessments. We have implemented road drainage improvement projects, to reduce sediment from entering fish-bearing streams, and conducted assessments on all of the unpaved roads in the Lagunitas Creek watershed. Our current and very exciting approach to habitat enhancement is to improve habitat conditions during the winter to increase survival of coho and steelhead. This approach has the potential to increase the populations above the long-term average.
We are hardly working alone on these efforts. This work takes the support of the entire staff at MMWD and the Board of Directors. We also collaborate with a host of other agencies, organizations and individuals (including homeowners) who are equally as dedicated as MMWD, and we appreciate their participation. We all have more to do.