A total of 15 different environmental restoration projects around California were announced this week, 11 of which are right here on the North Coast.
They sound inconsequential and scattered about the state, but taken together, experts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife say, they are having an impact.
In Sonoma County, an abandoned logging road on former timber company property along Buckeye Creek will be made to disappear.
Matt Wells chief of the agency's watershed restoration grants branch. "When these roads were first built, the goal was to get to where they were going to cut trees and get the wood out. Unfortunately, the way these roads were constructed, has contributed heavily to sediment issues in creeks below these roads." Salmon need clear, cold water. Eroding dirt tracks cut through the forest, put that vital ingredient at risk.
Another project on the books would fund all preparations for the future replacement of a culvert preventing salmon in the Navarro River from reaching spawning grounds in Soda Creek. Another will enable salmon to reach deep pools in Dry Dock Gulch off of Big River. Such pools provide critical refuge when streams dry and water temps rise.
Individually, the projects won't make a huge difference, but collectively, they are putting a dent in the challenges salmon, steelhead and other threatened fish face.
"It isn't a simple one and done, it's usually a series of efforts that build upon themselves to try and reestablish this habitat. The idea is, over time, after that sort of initial construction, mother nature comes in and kind of finishes these projects. The idea is, they will look like no one was ever there, and that's what it should look like to us. Nobody ever did anything because they are trying to undo some of these man made issues and create something more natural that resembles the original habitat," Wells said.