Water Agency Board Approves Dry Creek Habitat Demonstration Project
For Immediate Release
November 16, 2011
(Healdsburg, CA) On Tuesday,November 15 the Sonoma County Water Agency Board of Directors voted to approve a habitat enhancement demonstration project in Dry Creek. The one-mile project, centered on Lambert Bridge, is a cooperative effort between the Water Agency and landowners to improve habitat for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead.
“These landowners deserve accolades for stepping forward and partnering on this important project. It’s a testament to their commitment to the land, the health of Dry Creek and the future of these endangered species,” said Water Agency Director Mike McGuire.
When complete, the Dry Creek Demonstration Project will serve as the first mile of habitat enhancement of the six miles required in National Marine Fisheries Service’ Russian River Biological Opinion. The Biological Opinion was issued in 2008, and requires the Water Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve habitat for juvenile coho and steelhead in Dry Creek as an alternative to reducing summertime flows in the creek. (The high velocity of water flowing in Dry Creek in the summer was found by NMFS’ biologists to be detrimental to the survival of young coho and steelhead.)
Since nearly all of the 14-mile Dry Creek is privately owned, the required six miles of habitat enhancement is dependent on cooperative landowners. The demonstration project will allow landowners, the Water Agency, the Corps, NMFS and California Department of Fish and Game to observe how enhancements work on a smaller scale.
“As a steward of the land, Quivera is excited about the opportunities to improve Dry Creek. We’ve been involved in similar projects on a smaller creek that runs into Dry Creek and are thrilled to see coho and steelhead taking advantage of the habitat we’ve created,” said Quivera Winery representative Ned Horton.
Tuesday’s board action also includes approval of the environmental analysis of the demonstration project and gave the Water Agency the authority needed to begin negotiating with landowners for both construction and long-term easements for the habitat enhancements. Access to the creek will be necessary for several years to maintain, repair and monitor the enhancements, which include side channels and backwaters, large wood features, riffles, and revegetation to control erosion and provide shade.
Dry Creek carries water from Lake Sonoma to the Russian River and is a critical component of the Water Agency’s water transmission system serving 600,000 people. To learn more about NMFS’ Biological Opinion and Dry Creek requirements go to http://www.scwa.ca.gov/drycreek/. For additional details on the demonstration project, go to http://www.scwa.ca.gov/files/docs/projects/rrifr/DryCreek-Habitat.pdf.
The Sonoma County Water Agency is working to secure our future by investing in our water resources, community and environment. The Water Agency provides water supply, flood protection and sanitation services for portions of Sonoma and Marin counties. Visit us on the Web at www.sonomacountywater.org.