The Gold Ridge RCD is seeking the partnership of landowners to assist in a study of the Atascadero Creek subwatershed. This creek has become the focus of our study because of its potential to provide excellent habitat for the endangered coho salmon.
How Neighbors Can Help
Our partnership with the residents along Atascadero Creek is essential to the success of the study.
Neighbors can help by offering:
1) Their stories about the way the creek has changed over the years, and
2) Access to the portion of the creek that runs through their property for our scientific study.
We request to visit properties to learn:
- -When adult salmon are in the creek, migrating or mating
- -When young salmon are in the creek
- -When and where the water level is lowest
- -What water quality is like (with lab testing and "water bug" sampling)
Creekside landowners will be receiving letters in the mail from us describing the study and requesting access to the reach of creek that runs through their property.This includes landowners along Atascadero Creek and its tributaries: Redwood Creek, Sexton Creek, Jonive Creek, and Pitkin (also called Sullivan) Creek. Are you in the watershed? See the map at lower right, and click to enlarge.
1) If you would like to provide us with your stories about how the creek has changed over the years, please email Sierra Cantor with a short description of your story: Sierra@goldridgercd.org
2) If you are a landowner who wants to provide us with access to the creek via your property, please review, fill and sign the agreement linked below.
Atascadero Creek is part of the Russian River watershed. It flows north from Sebastopol to Forestville where it meets with Green Valley Creek, then Green Valley Creek flows to the Russian River. It neighbors the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed, but is not connected. Atascadero Creek has four major streams that drain into it: Redwood Creek, Jonive Creek, Sexton Creek and Pitkin (also called Sullivan) Creek. See the subwatershed map at right. From the modest information we have about the watershed, we know that Atascadero Creek watershed is a complex and diverse system. In parts (particularly the upper reaches) the waterways are creek-like with defined channels and year-round flow, fed by rainfall and springs. In other parts (particularly in the lower reaches), the waterways become dense and marsh-like with less defined creek channels and at times no water flowing on the surface.
The stream that Atascadero flows into, Green Valley Creek, has been identified as critical and restorable habitat for the endangered Central California Coast coho salmon, and it regularly supports the Russian’s most robust wild coho population. Despite anecdotal evidence of coho being historically present, they haven’t been observed in recent surveys. Local landowners have memories of finding coho back in the old days, and historians hold that the creek has been used by coho in the past. In the winters of 2017 and 2018, federal partners in conservation released juvenile coho salmon to the upper reaches of the creek in the hopes that the fish would survive and establish a viable population in the stream.
About the Study
The Gold Ridge RCD received a grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to attempt to answer some questions about the unique characteristics of the Atascadero Creek watershed, for example:
To that end, we are seeking the following information:
We have a number of partners (the Research Team) assisting with this study:
Gold Ridge RCD staff humbly request to partner with the landowners along the Atascadero Creek and its tributaries in order to study the watershed. Participating landowners provide the Research Team with access to the creek through their private property. Landowners contract with the RCD through a Landowner Access Agreement. The Research Team will strictly follow the instructions provided by the landowner in the Landowner Access Agreement (LAA) regarding entrance to the property and access to the creek. No party in the Research Team will enforce any regulations. If for any reason a landowner prefers to exclude any members of the Research Team from accessing their property, they can indicate their preference on the LAA.
Different types of monitoring activities will occur seasonally. Types of activities we plan to do as part of this study include:
This project requires broad engagement of local landowners to be a success. We plan to reach out to the community through multiple avenues:
Read more about the study in a recent article published in the Sonoma West Times & News, written by Sarah Nossaman of the California Sea Grant.
How Information Will Be Used
When the study is done, we will share broad information that we have gathered (not sharing any sensitive information) to the community. We will then use that information to inform our future efforts in the watershed. Examples of projects that might result from the study: assisting landowners in enhancing the habitat around their portion of creek, assisting landowners in developing alternative water sourcing projects, assisting landowners in managing stormwater, and other project types. We will know better after the study what kind of projects are most appropriate. As always, we operate solely through voluntary partnership on conservation projects with landowners. We do not enforce any actions.
Want to learn more?
If you have questions, comments or concerns about the study, contact Sierra Cantor, Ecologist and Project Lead, to learn more. She can be reached at (707) 823-5244 or Sierra@goldridgercd.org.
Neighborhood groups may invite Sierra Cantor to give a presentation at a neighborhood meeting/potluck/event.
Ready to participate?
If you are a landowner located on the Atascadero Creek or its tributaries (see map at top right) and you are ready to participate in the study, review the Landowner Access Agreement (linked below) and submit the form to the Gold Ridge RCD.
Ecologist, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District
(707) 823-5244 | Sierra@goldridgercd.org
Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District
2776 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472
(707) 823-5244; www.goldridgercd.org