“The Garcia's Coho”
The Garcia River in Mendocino County is one of California's most highly regarded steelhead fisheries, an increasingly rare example of a watershed that still produces substantial numbers of big, wild fish. What many Garcia enthusiasts don't know, however, is that as recently as the early '80’s the river still supported a healthy number of wild coho salmon, fish that often provided fast and spectacular fishing. Over time, however, the low gradient tributaries that the salmon use for spawning and rearing became so degraded from poor land use that the coho run dwindled to its current size, estimated liberally according to some observers--at just 200 returning adults.
TU (Trout Unlimited), seeking to capitalize on its successful restoration of a similarly imperiled coho run in Marin County's Lagunitas Creek, has brought together local restoration interests and a major watershed landowner, the Mendocino Redwoods Company, in a project to bring the Garcia's coho population back to its former strength. With a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this effort will combine in-stream restoration activities (led by Garcia River guide and TU leader Craig Bell) with upslope road removal, road repair, and related prescriptions to reduce sedimentation. The upslope work is possible because one coho-producing sub-basin, the South Fork of the Garcia, is entirely owned by the Mendocino Redwoods Company. The company will work closely with restoration consultant Danny Haggins, who will provide training that company employees will be able to apply in other watersheds throughout their holdings. This level of cooperation from a major timber company is extremely rare in the contentious environment that surrounds timber harvest in California.
For more information, contact Steve Trafton, TU California Policy Coordinator, at (510) 528-5390; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission from Trout Magazine, published by Trout Unlimited (Winter 1998).