County of Marin - News Releases - Trees Become Salmon Habitat

For Immediate Release
December 22, 2016

Tree Hazard Becomes Salmon Habitat Restoration

Dead redwoods used to help endangered salmon in Lagunitas Creek

San Rafael, CA – Sometimes the natural cycle of life needs a helping hand. Two dead redwood trees along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Samuel P. Taylor State Park were felled and repurposed for fish habitat restoration in Lagunitas Creek on Tuesday, December 20.

A man cuts into a tall redwood tree with a chainsaw next to Sir Francis Drake BoulevardThe dead redwoods were very close to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, creating a hazard.

The multi-agency collaboration is a noteworthy achievement in Marin County’s ongoing commitment to improving fishery resources throughout the region.

Lagunitas Creek cuts through the park on the western edge of the San Geronimo Valley. It is a major fish passage and spawning area for endangered coho salmon, whose population has dropped 95 percent since the 1950s. The Marin County Department of Public Works, the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and California State Parks facilitated the habitat restoration project to help secure a future for these fish.

The two redwood trees, one 168 feet tall and the other 184 feet, were recently reported dead. Standing only a couple feet from the roadway, the trees were deemed a hazard to the traveling public along the stretch near Shafter Bridge. Thanks to a preexisting agreement aimed at increasing wood in Lagunitas Creek to benefit salmon, the collaborating agencies were able to expedite the project and eliminate the public hazard. Instead of being chopped down and carted off as timber, the two trees were strategically cut and their falls were guided into Lagunitas Creek using a pull line.  

The strategic placement of the enormous trees into the creek was seen as ideal for fish habitat by State Parks and MMWD salmon specialists. The water current around the logs soon will create deep pools that remain cool even during the summer months, allowing the temperature-sensitive salmon to survive. Also the redwood logs will capture additional wood and branches, providing the salmon with protection from predators.

“It’s rare to have large redwoods fall into Lagunitas Creek,” said Eric Ettlinger, MMWD Aquatic Ecologist. “Being able to do this project was a fantastic opportunity for the benefit of Marin’s salmon population. It’s great that the County was able to make this happen.”

Contact:

Michael Frost
Deputy Director
Department of Public Works

3501 Civic Center Drive
San Rafael, CA 94913
(415) 473-3725
CRS Dial 711
Email: Michael Frost
www.marincounty.org/pw