Large-scale Restoration in a Dynamic Estuary System: A Tour of the Garcia River Estuary Habitat Enhancement Project
27 March 2024
9:00am - 5:00pm
Field Tour Coordinators: Peter Van De Burgt, The Nature Conservancy and Lauren Hammack, Prunuske Chatham, Inc.
The Garcia River, in southern Mendocino County, supports populations of coho salmon, Chinook salmon, and steelhead trout. Over the last 30 years, local community groups, public agencies, and non-profits have worked to conserve land and restore habitat throughout the watershed, from headwaters to river mouth. Yet, despite this long history of restoration, there remained a dearth of high-quality winter and spring outmigration habitat in the watershed. To address this need and to increase the watershed’s winter carrying capacity for coho salmon, The Nature Conservancy – in close collaboration with a wide range of project partners including the Bureau of Land Management, NOAA Fisheries, CDFW, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, PCI, and others – developed and implemented the Garcia Estuary Habitat Enhancement Project. After more than 7 years of development, the project was constructed in 2022. Focusing on both instream and off-channel habitat along a 0.5-mile reach of the estuary, project construction included 18 engineered large wood structures (composed of more than 350 logs and root wads) and over 2 acres of floodplain enhancement. Join us for a tour of the project site. We will have an opportunity to catch a bird’s eye view of the entire project from atop the bluffs on the south side of the estuary, before hiking down to see some of the project features up close. Staff from TNC, PCI, and other project partners will lead a wide-ranging discussion about the realities of implementing a complex restoration project in a dynamic and sensitive estuary environment. We’ll discuss planning, design, permitting, construction methods, monitoring, lessons learned, and everything in-between.