Mill Creek is a tributary to Dry Creek, west of the City of Healdsburg in the Russian River watershed. Other major tributaries within this sub-basin include Felta, Wallace, and Palmer creeks. The watershed is primarily hardwood, chaparral, and conifer forest with land use being mainly timber, rural residential, and vineyards. The post-European settlement practice of heavily logging forests, has left a legacy on the landscape. Poorly constructed roads used for logging and unsustainable logging practices have had detrimental effects on the hydrology of the watershed that can be seen to this day. Currently, landholdings within Mill Creek are primarily privately owned and no incorporated cities, towns, or public lands reside within the watershed. Although the land use within this watershed is diverse, the area is known as an award winning wine region. Sonoma RCD works with private landowners to improve the landscape of the watershed by road improvement, habitat enhancement, and projects that benefit streamflow and water security for all water users alike.
Even with the legacy effects seen within the Mill Creek watershed, it is still considered to be a high priority watershed for coho recovery and was identified as having some of the best summer rearing habitat in the Russian River watershed according to the Russian River Biological Opinion (National Marine Fisheries Services, 2008). In addition to coho salmon, the watershed supports habitat for numerous aquatic species including steelhead, sculpin, and Pacific giant salamander. Juvenile coho have been released from the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program into Mill and Palmer creeks annually since 2004.
Sonoma RCD is currently conducting a Flow Availability Analysis for Streamflow Enhancement Planning and Project Identification to develop a hydrologic model of the Mill Creek watershed. Like the Mark West model, this model will synthesize natural and human components to predict the streamflow related to salmonid habitat requirements.
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