Your monthly update from SPAWN

January Newsletter

Happy New Year, SPAWNer! We started 2020 with mixed feelings. Despite above average rains, biologists are reporting some of the lowest numbers of coho salmon redds (nests) in a quarter century in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed. On the other hand, our Saturday habitat restoration days are in full swing, and we've had the help of many students and volunteers to plant thousands of native plants and trees on newly created side channels. Please join us this year as we continue to fight to protect endangered wildlife and our watersheds!

Surveys Underway to Evaluate Redd Habitat Value

SPAWN is conducting substrate classification, embeddedness, and scour chain studies to gauge the current redd habitat value for salmonids. The project methods are repeatable so that data collected can be compared over multiple years to better inform restoration practices along Lagunitas Creek. Understanding more about current conditions can better inform methods on how to move forward with restoration projects. SPAWN is hopeful that these surveys will be able to increase the effectiveness of future projects along Lagunitas Creek and increase data sharing among restoration agencies. 

Calif. Coho Salmon Spawning Numbers Plummet

As this year’s spawning season for Marin County’s coho salmon comes to an end, biologists are reporting some of the worst spawning numbers in nearly a quarter century. Only a total of 44 nests (called redds) were reported so far for Lagunitas Creek, San Geronimo Creek, Woodacre Creek and Arroyo Creek. This is despite above average rains that have allowed salmon to migrate upstream unencumbered, and excellent conditions for monitoring the population. 

Winter Habitat Restoration Days in Full Swing!

SPAWN kicked off the new year getting our hands dirty—winter is planting season! In addition to planting on our recently completed salmon habitat restoration site, we'll be strategically planting redwoods in their historic range throughout West Marin County over the next few months. Thank you to all of our supporters who have joined in on our planting efforts—and if you haven't yet—we'd love for you to join. Click here to view our calendar of upcoming planting events.

Lawsuit Challenges Loopholes in Obama-era Rule Exempting Wetlands and Streams from Clean Water Act Protections

Conservation groups including Turtle Island Restoration Network filed a motion this week challenging exemptions for industries in the “waters of the United States” rule that could open the door to further pollution of wetlands, streams and other waterways. The rule, finalized in 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, defines which waterways can be protected against being destroyed, degraded, or polluted without a permit under the Clean Water Act.

Scholarships Available for Calif. Naturalist Course

Thanks to the West Marin Fund, a limited number of need-based scholarships are available to cover the cost of the UC California Naturalist certification course for members serving underrepresented communities. We will be holding our course over six weeks beginning on Tuesday, February 11 at our headquarters in Lagunitas. During the course, ten different guest lecturers will share knowledge from their area of expertise with the class. Participants will explore the redwood forests, oak woodlands, and marine tidal zones of Marin County, California.

Federal Court Rules California Longlines Unlawful

federal district court ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service failed to adequately analyze threats to critically endangered leatherback sea turtles when it allowed longline fishing off California. This means the Trump administration violated the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act in failing to consider the best available science on impacts to leatherbacks. The ruling responds to a lawsuit filed by Turtle Island Restoration Network after the fishing permit issued in April exempted vessels from the federal ban on longline gear off California.

San Rafael Students Help SPAWN Seed Redwoods

As part of our 10,000 Redwoods project, the fourth-grade classes at Glenwood Elementary in San Rafael helped us seed coast redwoods last Friday. The 75 students opened and planted seeds from over 400 redwood cones! The classes will care for these seedlings for the next few months while they sprout and grow into tiny redwood saplings. These redwoods will eventually be planted out at one of our restoration projects along Lagunitas Creek.

Photo of the Month: A Happy Newt Year!

In California, there are four species of highly poisonous newts that are all similar in appearance, making it difficult for even expert herpetologists to identify them by sight. At SPAWN headquarters we recently found what we believe to be this rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) that is known for the strong toxin exuded from its skin. Rough-skinned newts are similar to the California newt (Taricha torosa) but differ in having smaller eyes and yellow irises. For more wildlife shots, follow SPAWN on Facebook or visit our blog.  

Volunteer Days & Events

SPAWN offers many opportunities for individuals and groups to help with protecting endangered coho salmon in the San Francisco Bay Area. Please join us!

  • Every Friday: Grow Native Plants for Coho Salmon. Help tend to native plants and seeds used for local stream restoration projects in SPAWN's Native Plant Nursery every Friday from 10am to 1pm. Activities include preparing seeds, sowing and tending native plants ranging from ferns to redwoods. View upcoming Nursery Volunteer Days by clicking here.

Join Our Network


Salmon Protection And Watershed Network
A program of Turtle Island Restoration Network
PO Box 370, Forest Knolls, CA 94933

415.663.8590 .