Places We Protect

North Coast


The mouth of the Garcia River.
Mouth of the Garcia River The Garcia River joins the Pacific Ocean in this view of estuary at Stornetta Ranch. © Douglas Steakley



The estuaries, rivers and forests of California’s North Coast are known worldwide for their beauty, importance to conservation and recreational value. But a long history of human activity has dramatically altered these delicate ecosystems, threatening the plants, animals and human communities that rely on them. The impacts of a changing climate have only made matters worse. But now, we have the unique opportunity to address these problems and rapidly protect and restore these ecosystems in the next ten years. 


Limited Access


Mendocino County

Map with marker: Mendocino County.

Explore our work in California

On the North Coast, The Nature Conservancy is working to protect and restore a network of coastal floodplains and estuaries that includes the coastal reaches of the Ten Mile River, the Navarro River and the Garcia River. This network will conserve biodiversity, increase coastal resilience, and provide some of the southernmost habitat for wild coho salmon along the Pacific Coast

Our work is about improving conditions in these rivers and their estuaries by reconnecting floodplains, building wood jams (large structures within the streams themselves), and restoring the natural form and function of whole riverscape systems. This work provides critical habitat for fish and it’s helping to demonstrate the effectiveness of estuary and floodplain habitat restoration, creating a blueprint that can be replicated across the region. To date, TNC has constructed three large restoration projects in the Ten Mile River and one in the Garcia River estuary, with three more projects slated for construction in the coming years.

Garcia River (7:41) As the saying goes, there was a time when you could walk across the Garcia River on the backs of coho salmon. Today, the species is on the brink of extinction in California. Preserving these fish in Northern California requires creative, nature-driven strategies.

Habitat Protection and Restoration

Born in North Coast rivers, salmonids like coho are keystone species in California’s vast coastal ecosystem. But a century of unsustainable land management practices and overfishing have decimated their numbers. Some of the best remaining habitats for these imperiled fish are found on the North Coast within large intact tracts of land managed by industrial timber companies, private landowners, or state and federal agencies. In more developed watersheds, water diversion is the most significant threat. But in these less-populated forested watersheds, the largest ongoing conservation threats are the legacy impacts from intensive logging and alteration to estuaries and their adjacent floodplains.

Protecting and restoring estuaries and coastal floodplains is one of the most important steps to recovering imperiled populations of salmon and trout. It is also a critical step toward increasing coastal resilience in the face of sea-level rise due to climate change. Conserving estuaries and coastal river valleys today, will allow inland migration of coastal wetland habitat as sea levels rise. Providing the space for nature to adapt is essential not only for salmon and trout, but also for many marine species, migrating and resident birds and a wide variety of other coastal plants and animals that rely on these ecosystems.  

How You Can Help

Become a member of the Nature Conservancy in California! Your support is what makes our work possible. Consider a gift today.