Salmonid Restoration Federation

Marshall Ranch Flow Enhancement


Since 2013, Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) 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.
Salmonid Restoration Federation, Stillwater Sciences and Edwards Excavation along with contributing subcontractors have been busy all summer 2023 building an innovative flow augmentation project on the historic Marshall Ranch to improve instream flows for threatened salmon and other aquatic species. 10-million gallons of water storage will be fully dedicated to supplementing instream flows in Redwood Creek. This project has been years in the planning and will likely improve Redwood Creek habitat conditions for decades to come. Special thanks to our funders: Wildlife Conservation Board's Streamflow Enhancement Program and the State Coastal Conservancy.

View a Flipbook of the construction here.

Additionally, SRF is pursuing a flow enhancement project on the Lost Coast Forestland property near the headwaters of Redwood Creek. The Marshall Ranch and Lost Coast Forestland flow enhancement projects combined would help accomplish our target flow goal of an average of 50 gallons per minute of flow release which would keep flows connected to allow for fish migration and hydrologic connectivity.

Project Summary

The historic Marshall Ranch, the largest contiguous landowner in the Redwood Creek watershed. The Marshall Ranch is fully protected under conservation easement, and the ranch bridges Redwood Creek, Somerville Creek, and Sproul Creek. This working ranch that has been in the Marshall family ownership since the 1800s is now protected in perpetuity, with restoration opportunities such as a flow-enhancement project that includes 10 million gallons of winter water storage between two off-channel ponds and 100,000-gallon water tanks that will be plumbed for fire-fighting emergencies. The purpose of this project is to release cool water into Redwood Creek during the five-month dry season to benefit threatened salmonids and other aquatic species. The flow releases will benefit the mainstem of the creek from the Marshall Ranch all the way to the confluence with the South Fork Eel River.
This project was developed by several restoration partners, including Stillwater Sciences, the lead technical consultants; the Marshall Ranch General Manager, David Sanchez, and the Marshall Ranch family representative, Elizabeth Marshall Maybee, who had the vision to preserve the ranch through conservation easements; and Hicks Law, who oversaw the Appropriative Water Right and provides expert legal guidance to the project team. SRF’s Executive Director Dana Stolzman stated, “SRF is the project proponent, but this project could not have evolved without the ongoing support of the Wildlife Conservation Board and the hard work of the project team. In this era of extended drought conditions, climate change, and intensified fire risk, innovative projects like the Marshall Ranch Flow Enhancement are needed to improve instream flows.”
The California Water Action Plan ranks the South Fork Eel as one of the highest-priority watersheds in the state for flow-enhancement projects. Similarly, the Salmon Habitat and Restoration Prioritization Project in the South Fork Eel River recognizes that although Redwood Creek is densely populated and suffers from legacy impacts, it still retains high habitat values for salmon.
After years of outreach, monitoring, and a Redwood Creek feasibility analysis, SRF and Stillwater Sciences have developed a variety of flow-enhancement opportunities ranging from groundwater recharge in the headwaters of Redwood Creek to flow-release projects in the mainstem on the Marshall Ranch, storage and forbearance projects downstream, and a recently funded forest-thinning component that will study the nexus between selective forest thinning and flows.

Recent Project Milestones:

  • 2024 Construction elements include: installing a 90,000-gallon rainwater catchment tank, fencing, and installing super valves and instrumentation to support the flow augmentation. Flow releases will likely begin in late June.
  • January 2024: Both ponds were full by late January.
  • June - October, 2023: Constructed two off-channel ponds and associated plumbing and infrastructure. Installed large wood structures, stabilized gullies, native revegetation, and completed control centers for long-term project management. 
Here is the link to the draft 100% Basis of Design Report  and the draft 100% Designs.


Marshall Ranch Site Photos



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