Riparian Restoration in the Redwoods
The water flow is blocked by an earthen bridge and failed culverts. Coho salmon are unable to migrate and spawn upstream. NPS
After restoration water flows freely and large wood has been placed to provide refuge and habitat for fish. NPS
Two-thirds of the 120,000 forested acres that is now in Redwood National and State Parks had been clear-cut logged before the parks were established. Logging operations didn't just harm the forests - but it also impacted all the streams, creeks, and rivers in what is called the "watershed". Without a healthy watershed the wildlife and the forests can not flourish. Fish like engangered Coho salmon struggle to survive in the damaged riperian areas. Since the 1980s we have been working on restoring damaged riparian areas in the parks. A large part of the Redwoods Rising restoration project will focus on removing logging roads and riparian restoration.
We are improving fish habitat by removing upslope sources of erosion and sediment such as abandoned logging roads. In past decades when these legacy roads have failed in major winter storms, hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of sediment and dirt entered the watershed. These landslides buried streams and creeks where salmon and other species lived. On a smaller scale across dozens of places we also will continue to remove earthen bridges built to support logging trucks when they used to cross the streams and creeks. Often these bridges have culverts (pipes) that are too small for the stream's flow, or the culverts have rusted away and become blocked with debris. This failure of the culverts means fish cannot swim upstream, and the diverted water flow will also cause downstream erosion.
Two Creeks: Two Different Stories
Godwood Creek flows over cobbles and has good water quality. NPS: Neal Youngblood
May Creek pools up because of sediment blocking its flow. NPS: Neal Youngblood
In the Greater Mill Creek (GMC) and the Greater Prairie Creek (GPC) watersheds we continue to restore stream habitats. This means heavy equipment is used to remove human-made obstructions like earthen bridges, to dig down to reveal the original stream channel, placement of large wood back into in the streams to provide deep pools and resting zones for fish, and planting of native species along the riparian areas. In many places in the parks this has been completed - not only has this benefited the ecosystem - but it has allowed for the creation of hike and bike opportunities at places like Lost Man Creek Trail. Annually, there are restoration events put on by the Watershed Stewards Program where the public can participate in some riparian restoration activities.
Mill Creek Restoration
The creek has no large wood in the channel and has little variation in its flow. CDPR
The same site after restoration has more habitat and complexity for different species. CDPR
Last updated: October 25, 2019