Check out our cool new approach to restoring salmon habitat and helping in this iconic species’ fight for survival.
Coho salmon—a key member of ecosystems on land and sea and once a vibrant force in the California economy—are in serious decline. Overheated water, inadequate habitat, migration barriers and water flow problems have reduced California's North Coast coho salmon populations to less than 1 percent of their former numbers.
One of the culprits? Insufficient wood. Healthy salmon habitat includes an abundance of fallen trees and logs that create cold pools for young fish, places to hide from high winter flows and clean gravels for spawning, in addition to providing protection from predators.
Today, more than 80 percent of California’s North Coast rivers do not have enough wood habitat to support coho salmon. Experts have identified wood restoration as a top priority in the fight to save this species.
The standard route for wood restoration has been expensive—building and anchoring wood structures in rivers and streams. The Nature Conservancy and partners have found a way to create salmon habitat in a faster, more cost-efficient manner.
In the Garcia River watershed, the Conservancy and The Conservation Fund have been working together to release logs into the river and streams at strategic locations, letting winter rains and high stream flows create log jams—and thus salmon habitat—naturally. This approach has produced results within 12 months at a tenth to a third of the cost of traditional methods.
Since 2008, The Nature Conservancy and others using similar techniques have restored 15 miles of stream in Mendocino County, and by the end of 2011 we will have treated 30 miles of streams and rivers.