Hare Creek and Bunker Gulch Salmon Habitat Enhancement

In 2019, MLT’s Director of Stewardship, Nicolet Houtz, coordinated salmon habitat restoration projects along Hare Creek and Bunker Gulch (a tributary to Hare Creek). “The timing of the stream restoration projects coincided with decommissioning two old logging roads, which were practically perched on the stream bank,” Houtz said. “This required coordinating with CCC crews who were in the stream, and heavy equipment operators working to reconnect the stream bank by removing the road. It was difficult coordinating the two projects at once, but they ended up complementing each other.”

Houtz said road decommissioning is important because “one of the largest causes of the declining health of water quality and salmon health is the increase of fine sediment in waterways.” Runoff from rains coming down roads picks up a lot of sediment that winds up in creeks. This can drastically reduce water quality. Then fish pull sediment-laden water through their gills, it has serious health effects and greatly increases fish mortality.

Road decommissioning is done according to strict protocols, with barriers placed at the edge of the project area to ensure sediment does not enter creeks.

After the road decommissioning was complete, Houtz and other MLT staff and interns planted redwood saplings in the cleared areas, thanks to funding from Sonoma Clean Power. This allowed the disturbed area to again become forested habitat. As the trees grow, their roots hold sediment in place and keep it out of streams to ensure improved water quality.

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