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Restoration of Dry Creek to continue this summer

  • 11/23/2013:B1: PIONEER FINGERLINGS: Bob Anderson on Friday releases juvenile coho salmon into an area of Dry Creek where habitat has been restored. The Sonoma County Water Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers are working together to enhance the creek bed below Warm Springs Dam to better protect the endangered fish.
    PC: Bob Anderson releases juvenile Coho salmon into a new Dry Creek habitat restoration site, downstream from Warm Springs Dam on Friday, November 22, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

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.

Dry Creek Fish Food

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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.


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