Press Release: SRF Awarded a Planning Grant to Study Flows and Flow Enhancement Opportunities
in Sproul Creek, a Critical Tributary in the South Fork Eel River
July 12, 2019 — Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) was recently awarded a planning grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board to conduct low-flow monitoring in Sproul Creek for three years, promote dry season storage and forbearance actions, and identify and assess the most suitable locations for flow enhancement projects.
Sproul Creek is a significant tributary for juvenile salmonids in the South Fork Eel watershed. According to the SHaRP process (Salmon Habitat and Restoration Priorities) initiated by NOAA Fisheries, Sproul Creek is considered one of the highest priority tributaries for implementation actions to protect and restore coho salmon.
SRF is working closely with Stillwater Sciences, a leading consulting firm on the North Coast that is already actively working in the South Fork of the Eel on restoration and flow enhancement projects. SRF and Stillwater Sciences have been restoration partners for several years and their engineers and geologists have already completed a feasibility study for a portion of Redwood Creek (Miller Creek and a segment of the mainstem). Currently, Stillwater Sciences project team is exploring flow enhancement opportunities in the remainder of Redwood Creek.
This project complements the existing work of the project team and builds on the years of flow monitoring that Cal Trout conducted in Sproul Creek. In fact, SRF and Cal Trout began their independent flow studies at the same time with the understanding that it would be beneficial to do a paired study to understand flow patterns in both an impaired and unimpaired watershed (Redwood Creek and Sproul Creek respectively).
Redwood Creek is a densely populated watershed with approximately 400 parcels, hundreds of residents, and countless water diversions for legal and unregulated cannabis cultivation as well as small domestic use and homestead gardens. Comparatively, Sproul Creek is relatively unimpaired with large tracts of the watershed in private ownership including the Marshall and Wagner ranches and the former Barnum timberland that is now owned by Green Diamond Timber Company.
The goal of this project is to create an implementable plan for improving dry season streamflows in Sproul Creek, a sub-basin that is crucial to the recovery of threatened and endangered steelhead and salmon. The Implementation Plan will be closely integrated with past work by CalTrout and ongoing work by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board in the watershed, in order to identify specific projects and to enhance instream flows. Stillwater Sciences will create 65% project designs and do the initial permitting for the highest priority flow enhancement site as identified in the implementation plan.
To learn more about this project, all residents are welcome to attend the upcoming Pond Planning and Groundwater Recharge workshop and field tour that SRF is hosting on Saturday August 17 at the Beginnings Octagon in Briceland, CA.