MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) — A species of salmon on the brink of extinction is getting a second chance at Muir Woods as park officials work to restore the fish’s habitat.
Redwood Creek runs through the heart of Muir Woods, one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the entire Bay Area. The creek is about to be drained and restored, all to protect endangered baby Coho salmon.
“We’re undoing some of the damage to the park that was done in the 1930s, when the Park Service had a different idea how to manage creeks and forest,” said Muir Woods Supervising Park Ranger Cassie Anderson.
During the Great Depression, giant boulders and concrete blocks were placed on some sections of the creek banks. Now, to reach those stones, heavy equipment will drive down the creek bed to replace the rocks in the creek.
But first, the water must be drained. And that means endangered baby Coho salmon must be saved.
“It’s terrible habitat for Coho, and Coho are federally endangered. Their numbers are really low, especially here on the central California Coast,” explains Anderson.
The restoration project will cost nearly a million dollars and is expected to take three years to complete, with breaks in the schedule for spawning.
“The irony here is that we are really not building what they need but undoing! Undoing the constraints that were built in the 20th century,” said Restoration Project Manager Carolyn Shoulders.
Biologist will continue netting sections of the creek for several weeks. The juvenile salmon fry are transported in buckets and released by hand up stream in safer waters until the work is completed.