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Redwoods cut down for Highway 101 project going into creeks to help fish

Hundreds of redwood logs from trees being cut to make way for a new freeway interchange at Airport Boulevard will be used to restore fish habitat in Dry Creek and Mark West Creek.

Logs also are being given to Sturgeon's Mill, a restored Sebastopol mill that uses steam power to cut logs.

About 600 trees are being removed by Ghilotti Construction, which has the $34.5 million contract to build a new interchange, with longer ramps and an improved overpass, at Airport Boulevard as part of the freeway widening project.

Suzanne Smith, executive director of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, said removal of the trees, which were planted when the freeway was originally constructed, clears the way for construction and also removes safety hazards.

"They were mostly planted in the corridor and not necessarily the native environment, not to say that they have not become part of our visual expectations," Smith said. "How they get reused is a relevant part of the conversation."

The Sonoma County Water Agency is buying 200 logs from Ghilotti, at a cost of $98,000, to put into Dry Creek to provide shade and pockets of slow-moving water for coho salmon, which are endangered, and chinook salmon and steelhead, which are threatened.

The trees will be put into a mile of the creek near Lambert Bridge this summer, part of $5 million in habitat improvement work that the Water Agency is undertaking.

Water Agency spokesman Brad Sherwood said that a total of 1,500 redwood logs will be used by the time the creek work is done along a six-mile stretch.

A number of the logs will be used in restoration work on Mark West Creek, which runs next to the interchange, said Dale Mahoney, Ghilotti manager.

Mahoney said about 400 are also being donated to the Sturgeon Mill, a restored 1914 mill that as part of its program has public demonstrations of how the logs were milled into lumber.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.


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