Redwood Renewal: Big fix should help endangered coho salmon

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Female coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in Redwood Creek.

On a recent Friday at Muir Woods, a visitor stopped a park ranger, pointed to a sign with information on coho salmon, and asked “Can we see any if we look in the creek?”

A major fix underway at Redwood Creek should help rangers answer that question with a resounding “heck, yes!”

As part of the multi-year Redwood Renewal at Muir Woods, the National Park Service (NPS) and its partners are helping undo the damage of the past and restore habitat for the federally endangered coho salmon.

Look close enough at the banks of Redwood Creek, and you’ll see why.

In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps hauled in boulders to reinforce 3,300 feet of the creek. This “rip-rap” was meant to prevent erosion, but created a straight stream channel with shallow water, not ideal habitat for the coho.

This summer and fall, the NPS is removing the rip-rap and installing “woody debris” made of fallen trees from the forest floor. The woody debris will help create a more natural water flow and deep pools needed by juvenile salmon to survive.

These graphics show the "before" and "after" of what the project is hoping to accomplish. 

Before:

Redwood Renewal at Muir Woods: 'Before' the removal of boulders in Redwood Creek.

After:

Redwood Renewal at Muir Woods: 'After' the removal of boulders and the installation of woody debris in Redwood Creek.


The Parks Conservancy has been heavily involved in efforts to save the coho salmon, including a similarly important project to restore Redwood Creek at Muir Beach. 

For more information on Redwood Renewal, go to https://www.nps.gov/muwo/getinvolved/redwood-renewal-begins.htm

Peter Hockaday joined the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in summer 2018 as Director of Editorial Content & Strategy.

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