Update: Lagunitas Creek

January 1, 2006

“The Dream Given by You: Welcoming the Coho Back to West Marin”

Our October-December 2001 issue highlighted the ecological and cultural significance of Lagunitas Creek’s endangered coho salmon, the largest coho population in central California. Recently, the watershed experienced its largest number of returning coho since surveys began 10 years ago. Given the coho’s 3-year life cycle, however, population counts can be deceiving. “We’re still only talking about 500 fish,” says Todd Steiner of the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN). Meanwhile, new threats loom over the watershed, including a proposed chloramine-treated drinking water tank near San Geronimo Creek. “If a seismic event caused a massive leak following the coho’s spring hatching season, it could devastate the juvenile fish population,” Stein warns.

Nevertheless, good things are happening at Lagunitas. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation recently donated $2 million towards restoring nearby Giacomini Marsh, a stopover for sea-bound smolts. SPAWN is also planning to replace culverts with fish-friendly passageways, and the San Geronimo Golf Course is allowing SPAWN to seed erosion-resistant native plants on its land along the banks of San Geronimo Creek.

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