The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is launching a new initiative, the North Coast Salmon Project (Project), to expedite and enhance efforts to recover endangered Coho Salmon in California. The Project will initially focus on developing strategies to be applied in four specific watersheds; these approaches will then be extended across the entire North Coast. The four initially proposed watersheds are:
- Lagunitas Creek
- Russian River tributaries: Dutch Bill, Green Valley, Mill, and Willow creeks
- Mendocino Coast streams: Noyo, Garcia, Ten Mile, and Navarro rivers, and Pudding Creek
- South Fork and Lower Eel River
The Project will be guided by an Advisory Team consisting of representatives from conservation groups and resource management agencies who work in the North Coast region. In addition, the Department will seek input from local stakeholders in each of the four initial watersheds identified above.
The overall goals of the Project are to identify and implement actions that will enhance Coho Salmon recovery. The Project will assess the effectiveness of past actions by various Department programs, including the funding of restoration projects, the collection of population monitoring data, and the effect of permitting laws. The Department will also work with the Advisory Team and local stakeholders to develop ways to improve and integrate these programs to accelerate Coho Salmon recovery and expand fishing opportunities. The Department and Advisory Team have identified several specific objectives:
- Develop detailed roadmaps for identifying and implementing high-priority recovery actions in each of the initial four watersheds. Approaches include the Priority Action Coho Team (PACT) Report, the Salmon Habitat Restoration Priorities (SHaRP) framework, and the Recovery Strategy for California Coho (PDF).
- Review the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) process and advise the FRGP and other Department grant programs on how to improve support for recovery actions, including incorporating the results of watershed-specific recovery prioritization into grant funding criteria.
- Develop locally driven, sustainable conservation efforts to support Coho Salmon recovery. Possible strategic approaches include Regional Conservation Investment Strategy (RCIS), North American Salmon Stronghold, Wild Steelhead, Natural Community Conservation Program (NCCP), or other comprehensive, locally driven approaches.
- Assess Coho Salmon population and habitat monitoring projects and data in the four initial watersheds. Where data exist, identify factors limiting spawning, rearing, or migration success and the quantity and quality of essential habitat by life-stage, and where data are absent, develop monitoring strategies to collect data.
- Evaluate the various Department programs that affect Coho Salmon recovery to increase internal and external efficiencies and collaboration, including programmatic permits for habitat restoration, instream flow, water conservation, 1600 permits, timber conservation, and landowner incentive program