Green Valley Creek
Green Valley Creek is a major tributary to the Russian River, and is a vitally important stream for coho salmon and steelhead trout. Green Valley Creek has been found to produce some of the largest and healthiest juvenile coho in the Russian River watershed, and was one of the sources of the wild fish used to start the Russian River Coho Captive Broodstock Program in the early 2000s. It is considered a core recovery area for coho, and is one of five focus watersheds for the Coho Partnership.
Upper Green Valley Creek and its Purrington Creek tributary contain high quality coho spawning and rearing habitat, and this habitat is heavily utilized by spawning fish in most years. But extremely low flows during the summer and fall dry season threaten the survival of juvenile coho. Some of the critical rearing reaches have become disconnected or gone completely dry for weeks at a time in recent years. Recent research by California Sea Grant’s Russian River Coho Monitoring Program has shown that the longer pools remain unconnected by surface flow, the lower the chances of juvenile coho survival.
The Coho Partnership has been engaged in streamflow improvement efforts in upper Green Valley since 2010. The goal of this work is to reduce the number of occurrences of disconnection, as well as reducing the length of time pools are disconnected and its spatial extent. The watershed is a mix of forest, agricultural and rural residential land and is nearly entirely in private ownership, so finding creative ways of addressing the water needs of landowners has been critical to the success of this work. To date the Partnership has implemented six projects to switch to alternative water sources and/or implement water conservation measures at sites where water was being drawn either from the creek or shallow alluvial wells. Five additional projects are currently in development. A number of projects to improve instream habitat have also been implemented in upper Green Valley and Purrington Creeks, including numerous installations of large wood structures and extensive erosion control work.
For more information, see Upper Green Valley Streamflow Improvement Plan or Green Valley/Atascadero Watershed on the Gold Ridge RCD website.
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