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Redwood Creek Restoration Project at Muir Beach Designed to Restore the Natural Creek, Wetlands, and Critical Salmon Habitat
San Francisco, CA—The Redwood Creek Restoration at Muir Beach is beginning an initial phase of work that will restore natural function to the creek and wetland system at this well-known Marin County visitor destination. The area has witnessed intensive land use for recreation, development, and agriculture over the past 100 years and in the coming months visitors will witness a transformation—one of the most important of its kind on the West Coast—of the wetland and tidal lagoon between the parking lot and beach as artificial fill is removed after almost a century of disturbance.
This project will also enhance and expand habitat for the southernmost continually-returning natural population of endangered Coho salmon in the western United States that is on the brink of extinction. Population numbers have declined during the past several decades and even though the endangered fish is found in the Redwood Creek watershed in Muir Beach, less than six adult fish were seen in 2009. The Redwood Creek restoration project is a partnership between the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The project aims to benefit coho and threatened steelhead trout by restoring the floodplain and expanding the tidal lagoon and backwater habitat at Muir Beach—both critical for the survival of adult and juvenile fish—within the larger context of restoring a damaged landscape to its natural functions.
“This restoration project at Muir Beach begins the critical recovery of a landscape that has been dramatically altered over the past 100 years by levees, parking lots, excessive recreational use, and manipulated dredging” said Frank Dean, acting superintendent of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “Planned restoration on site will allow the creek to meander naturally and connect with its floodplain. This multi-phase project will improve ecological conditions while creating visitor amenities that are more compatible with the site’s rustic character and natural setting.”
The first phase of this project will reconfigure the southern end of the Muir Beach parking lot to increase the natural creek function and improve the passage of high flows during storm events and also create a pond for the threatened California red-legged frog. The entire project has undergone both rigorous peer review by a multi-agency technical advisory group and public review.
“The southern tip of the parking area will be moved back—a huge step in restoring the creek’s natural hydrological flow—to help create vital salmon habitat,” said Carolyn Shoulders, project manager for the National Park Service. “The mouth of the Redwood Creek at Muir Beach is the gateway for the coho salmon’s epic journey into and out of the redwood-lined valley of Muir Woods. Retuning coho bring back nutrients from the ocean that the trees need, making this ancient cycle a win-win situation for all.”
“Even though the Redwood Creek watershed itself covers less than nine square miles and sits on the edge of one of the nation’s most densely populated and vibrant urban areas, it is home to some of the West Coast’s most endangered species,” said Greg Moore, executive director of the Parks Conservancy, the Golden Gate National Parks’ nonprofit partner. “In order to preserve this diverse ecosystem—recognized as one of the 25 global biodiversity ‘hot spots’ by the Nature Conservancy—the entire pathway of the creek needs to be restored.” The Conservancy is dedicated to preserving the parks, enhancing the experiences of park visitors, and building a community committed to conservation.
This phase of the project was made possible by funding from the National Park Service Recreation Fee Program and generous grants by California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Parks Conservancy members. The project also has partnerships with the Marin County Department of Public Works and the neighboring San Francisco Zen Center.