Redwood Creek begins high on Mt. Tamalpais, flowing down the mountain through the ancient redwoods of Muir Woods National Monument before meeting the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach. This place where the creek meets the sea was once home to thriving stream, lagoon, and dune ecosystems.
However, a century of farming and development had moved the creek from its natural alignment, filled it with sediment, and disconnected it from its floodplain. As a result, the whole system no longer functioned the way it was supposed to. In particular, it could not accommodate high winter storm flows, which flooded local roads and put the young endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout that live there in peril.
In 2009, the Parks Conservancy and National Park Service launched a multi-year project to repair this past damage and re-create a self-sustaining system. Completed in 2014, the 46-acre project improved habitat for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout, established breeding habitats for threatened California red-legged frogs, decreased flooding on nearby roads, and made several improvements to visitor access and interpretive experiences.
Key Project Accomplishments
- California red-legged frog numbers have soared thanks to restored breeding ponds and the relocation of egg masses and adult frogs
- Improved floodplain connectivity and side-channel areas now provide essential winter habitat for endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout
- Tens of thousands of seedlings—grown at the nearby Redwood Creek Nursery and planted by staff and volunteers—have created a diverse cover of native wetland and creek bank vegetation
- Broad areas of the site previously overrun with invasive, nonnative species now host healthy native plant communities
- Protective dunes are rebuilding naturally after fences were installed and a beach access trail was relocated and improved
- A rotated and repaved parking lot no longer juts out into and blocks the floodplain
- Floodplain improvements and work on and near Pacific Way have reduced flooding on the road
- A new Coastal Trail alignment improves access and has helped restore natural drainage patterns and reduce sediment into the creek
- An accessible route was created from the parking lot to the beach, and beach wheelchairs are available for check-out
- Special interpretive signs and programming highlight the uniqueness of the site, including its Coast Miwok history
- A fully accessible cast-bronze model details every contour of the Redwood Creek Watershed from the top of Mt. Tamalpais down to Muir Beach
Join the team helping keep Muir Beach vibrant!
Thousands of people have been active stewards at this site, studying ecosystem changes, counting juvenile coho salmon, searching for frog egg masses, planting native species, removing weeds, tracking river otters, and more. Learn about our regular drop-in volunteer program and how you can be a part of Muir Beach’s bright future!
This project would not have been possible without the support of partners such as the San Francisco Zen Center and the community of Muir Beach. In addition to donations from thousands of individual community members, the restoration of Muir Beach received support from:
- Cosco Busan Trustee Council
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- California Wildlife Conservation Board
- California State Coastal Conservancy
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- California Department of Parks and Recreation
- National Park Service Recreational Fee Program