Crews will soon return to work in the upper reaches of Dry Creek, enhancing and creating new habitat for coho salmon and steelhead trout.
About a half-mile section of the creek will be modified over the summer months to slow the current and carve out still-water areas where juvenile fish can rest while in-stream, Sonoma County Water Agency spokeswoman Ann DuBay said.
The work is part of a 12-year project to mitigate human impact on the creek by restoring it to more natural conditions.
The water agency will hold a public, neighborhood meeting on the upcoming work Monday, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lake Sonoma Visitors Center on Skaggs Springs Road.
The water agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last fall unveiled the initial stages of the effort, in which crews excavated backwater pools and side channels, especially for juvenile fish wintering in the creek, when the flow rate would typically be high.
They installed logs and root wads, boulders and other natural materials to slow the current and create riffles and other effects that would mimic those in a natural stream. Trees were planted to create shade, as well.
The rehabilitative work is required under a 2008 Biological Opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service, which determined that operation of Warm Springs Dam had caused erosion and narrowed portions of the creek so that the creek water is funneled through at high velocity, putting already threatened fish at greater risk.
Under the opinion, the Sonoma County Water Agency must rehabilitate and enhance six miles of the creek's 13.9-mile length, if it wants to continue operating the dam.
To date, about three-quarters of a mile has been completed, DuBay said, including a large-scale project just south of Lambert Bridge and smaller job just below Warm Springs Dam restored by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Work this year will be focused on the creek to the north of Lambert Bridge, she said.
Since the property along the creek is privately owned, work areas have been selected based in part upon the willingness of property owners to participate. Although it means allowing work equipment on their property, for instance, as well as other types of disruption, there are also benefits, such as stabilized creek banks and a more scenic water way, organizers say.
The quality of the creek habitat also plays into the decision. Restoration is being done where it can do the most good, agency biologists say.
The water agency is securing property owner agreements so that it can continue working next year on conceptual designs and planning for stretches of creek close to the dam and near the confluence with the Russian River totaling about two miles, DuBay said.
A total of three miles of restoration must be completed by 2017 and be subject to evaluation before the remaining three miles can be addressed, she said.
The most obvious sign of the ongoing installations will be truck traffic on Dry Creek Road, DuBay said. Crews are beginning to bring in materials.
Monday's public meeting at 3333 Skaggs Springs Rd. will give residents a chance to inquire about the project and see what's going on in their neighbors' back yards, DuBay said.
More information is available at www.scwa.ca.gov/drycreek/.
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