Your monthly update from SPAWN
SPAWN started the summer by wrapping up our coho salmon smolt season monitoring in San Geronimo Creek — and what a season it was! We counted a total of 2,732 coho smolts, marking a significant year for the endangered species. Salmon live a three-year lifecycle, so as we bid farewell to the smolts we’ve seen thus far and wish them luck in the big ocean, we hope to see them soon as adults when they return to the Lagunitas Watershed to spawn in winter 2021!
Marin County Board of Supervisors Block Appeal Challenging Salmon Restoration Project on Former San Geronimo Golf Course
On June 2 the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to deny an appeal blocking a creek permit for SPAWN's upcoming restoration project that will remove the highest priority fish barrier in central California along the former San Geronimo golf course property in San Geronimo — one of the most important watersheds left for endangered coho salmon. The attempt to appeal the permit was made by an individual who claimed the land should have remained a golf course as a 1997 community plan recommended. The notion was recently rejected by voters in March, when the majority of Marin County citizens voted against Measure D to prevent golf from returning to the property and allow it to be a public park.
Volunteers Build New Tables for the Nursery
SPAWN would like to send a big thank you to volunteers Al Lubow and Mel Wright for all of the hard work they have put into building 12 new tables for our native plant nursery! We are currently in the process of making upgrades to the nursery in order to follow best management practices for prevention of pathogens. One guideline, suggested for the improvement of sanitation in nurseries, is to keep plants raised three feet from the ground. Our new, custom-made tables will help us meet this guideline. The tables also contain built-in protection against rodents! Our innovative table designer Al Lubow ingeniously attached sheet-metal to the legs of the tables and to help deter our resident rodents from climbing the tables to eat seedlings. The tables were built within a matter of weeks and we are so grateful to have them.
San Geronimo Creek Smolt Season Finishes Strong
The 2020 smolt season in San Geronimo Creek has come to an end and what a season it was! SPAWN installed a smolt monitoring trap on San Geronimo Creek mid-April and monitored what fish were captured every day for seven weeks. We captured a total of 2,732 healthy coho smolts that were then released back downstream to continue their journey out to the ocean. The numbers we've seen this season are very exciting for our endangered coho salmon, but does not mean we can relax in our efforts to protect them. We're in the process of further analyzing our data and will be producing a report that will be up on our website in the near future.
What's Blooming in the Nursery? Douglas Iris
Douglas iris (Iris douglasiana) is a perennial spring-blooming wildflower that is common in Marin County and is found throughout coastal areas in northern and central California. This iris is naturally found in coastal prairie and grasslands, at the edge of forests, and in oak woodlands. The evergreen leaves typically reach one to two feet in height and grow in clusters up to several feet in width. One of the most unique features of this native iris is that the color of the flower varies widely and may be blue, purple, cream, white, or yellow in color. The flowers are an important source of nectar for native bees. The plant grows in partial shade inland and is often found in full sun along the coast. This iris makes a great addition to gardens and is a deer-proof plant.
California Agency: Protection for Leatherback Sea Turtles May Be Needed
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommended that Pacific leatherback sea turtles move toward protection under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The action came in response to a petition from Turtle Island Restoration Network. The Pacific leatherback population has declined by 90% over the past 40 years, mostly because longline and gillnet fishing for tuna and swordfish entangles and drowns these giant, ancient, soft-shelled turtles. Scientists predict that, without help, Pacific leatherbacks could be extinct in 20 years. Protecting leatherbacks under the state’s Endangered Species Act would make them a state conservation priority. The state law would also provide a backstop to potentially weakened protections for leatherbacks under the federal Endangered Species Act.
TIRN Joins Dr. Sylvia Earle for a Virtual Roundtable
SPAWN’s Executive Director Todd Steiner recently joined Dr. Sylvia Earle, legendary oceanographer and founder of Mission Blue, for a conservation roundtable on what it will take to create the Cocos-Galapagos Swimway Hope Spot, a 120,000-kilometer migratory underwater highway that will protect highly migratory endangered and threatened marine species like whale sharks, green sea turtles, silky sharks, and scalloped hammerhead sharks. The Cocos-Galapagos Swimway connects the National Parks of two sovereign nations – Costa Rica’s Cocos Island National Park with Ecuador’s Galapagos Marine Reserve – both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Photo of the Month: Standing in Solidarity
On Juneteenth — the holiday celebrating the end of chattel slavery — SPAWN joined our community at the Port of Oakland to demand the stop to police terror and the end to systemic racism. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Longshore Division stopped work at all 29 ports on the West Coast for eight hours to commemorate Juneteenth. Following the death of George Floyd and the countless Black lives that have been lost to police brutality and systemic racism, the country has made clear that the institution of policing, founded in white supremacy, must be radically reimagined. The labor movement is demonstrating the power of the people with this shutdown, by uniting movements for social, economic, racial, and environmental justice who know that we must center the Movement for Black Lives in our fight for collective liberation.