Since 2013, Salmonid Restoration Federation has been conducting low-flow monitoring in Redwood Creek, a critical tributary to the South Fork Eel River. The South Fork Eel River is considered one of the highest priority watersheds in the state for flow enhancement projects. Forested tributaries like Redwood Creek provide refugia habitat for threatened juvenile coho salmon but suffer from the cumulative impacts of legacy logging and unregulated water diversions.
With funding from the Wildlife Conservation Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, SRF and Stillwater Sciences have been exploring the feasibility of various streamflow enhancement opportunities in Redwood Creek. Stillwater Sciences conducted a feasibility study in a segment of the watershed that helped to identify priority projects that could improve summer flows.
Stillwater Sciences prepared conceptual designs for off-channel rainwater catchment ponds that could improve water security for individual parcels but would require wide and coordinated participation in order to measurably improve flows. After much research and reconnaissance, the SRF and Stillwater project team determined that the greatest opportunity to improve streamflows was to work cooperatively with the Marshall Ranch, the largest private parcel in the watershed that has been stewarded by the Marshall family since the 1800s and is now fully protected under conservation easement.
Marshall Ranch July 2022 Status Update:
- In January the Marshall Ranch Flow Enhancement Implementation project was unanimously approved by the Humboldt County Planning Commissioners. Humboldt County Planning Department is the lead agency for CEQA for this exciting project and they adopted a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the project.
- Concurrently, the State Water Board completed their final review of the Marshall Ranch Appropriative Water Right application and the Appropriative Water Right was approved in June 2022. This is an exciting milestone because the off-channel ponds will be filled during the winter season for metered cool water flow releases throughout the five-month dry season.
- The Wildlife Conservation Board’s Streamflow Enhancement Program will be funding the implementation of the project which will begin during the summer of 2023. SRF will also be receiving funding through the North Coast Resource Partnership to identify, design and implement five water storage tanks as part of a storage and forbearance program that will help ensure that the dedicated flows from the Marshall Ranch project remain instream and to improve water availability for landowners who may not have sufficient water storage in this underserved region.