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Subject: SALMON SCIENTIST LTR Sign-On- Join Drs. Peter Moyle, John McCosker and others
From: Todd Steiner <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 5 Feb 2010 08:28:20 -0800

text/plain (164 lines)

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Dear Colleague,

Please consider adding your name to the important open letter below 
from scientists (including Drs. Peter Moyle and John McCosker) to 
Marin County Bd of Supervisors (attached, below) and please forward 
to your colleagues.

This local extinction crisis issue was covered in 
last week (view at

To be included, send me ([log in to unmask]) your name and 
affiliation* (*for identification purposes only).

Thank you.

Todd Steiner
[log in to unmask]

Executive Director
                   a project of TURTLE ISLAND RESTORATION NETWORK

A Call by Leading Scientists to Increase Watershed Protections for 
Endangered Central Coast California Coho Salmon in Marin County, CA

February 2010

Central California and North Coast wild coho salmon  are on the verge 
of extinction (Science, January 29 2010), and the past two years of 
severely declining numbers of both spawning adults and coho smolts 
returning to sea require that we take urgent and immediate actions to 
prevent their extirpation.

As scientists concerned with the health and recovery of salmonid 
populations throughout California, we strongly support increased 
habitat protections for the largest remaining wild population of CCC 
ESU coho salmon, located in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed, west Marin 
County, CA.  This population makes up 10-20% of the fish across the 
entire ESU and is a keystone to recovery of the entire ESU.

Lands in the lower reaches of the Lagunitas Creek watershed are 
relatively well protected (they include State Parks, National Parks 
and Recreation Areas, and County and Water District property) and 
maintain habitat values important to coho and other native species.

But, thirty-one percent of spawning in the Lagunitas Creek Watershed 
occurs in the relatively small 9 sq. mi. un-dammed headwaters area of 
the San Geronimo Valley.  And the out-migration research documents 
that on average 40%  of all Lagunitas Creek coho rear in these 
headwater reaches too (SPAWN 2009).

The San Geronimo Valley supports a growing human population whose 
lands are governed by elements in the Marin County General Plan and 
by the County Board of Supervisors.  Continued loss of critical 
riparian habitats and floodplains to development, increased erosion 
and sedimentation of spawning gravels, stormwater runoff as a result 
of increasing impervious surfaces, especially within the streamside 
corridor, and invasive species, and chronic leaking septic systems 
cumulatively pose a significant threat to the survival of coho salmon 

We appreciate the fact that the Board of Supervisors heeded some of 
the advice from a previous open letter (September 2007) from many of 
the same scientists that are writing to you today.  Though not 
placing a complete halt to loss of habitat in the 100-foot Stream 
Conservation Area (SCA), the County did place a temporary moratorium 
on issuing building permits, which reduced new construction in the 
SCA until the County completed an independent review of the science.  

Furthermore, though the County did not complete the requested 
Cumulative Impact Analysis (CIA), as required under California's 
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), to inform the County on degradation 
thresholds and the limits of development that coho can withstand, we 
do recognize the County did complete an Existing Conditions Report 
and Salmonid Enhancement Study to provide some of the analysis that 
would be found in an CEQA CIA.

Unfortunately, the moratorium will end February 9, 2009, yet no new 
protections have been enacted to address loss and degradation of 
habitat.  Specifically, the following actions we recommended have not 
taken place:

1. Enact a Native Riparian Forest Management Policy and Ordinance 
that prohibits removal of streamside native vegetation.  Right now, 
there is NO special protection for streamside trees and landowners 
are permitted to remove five trees/year without a permit.

2. Implement strict enforcement of violations and illegal new 
development in the 100-foot Stream Conservation Area.

3. Require any new development in coho watersheds to meet a zero net 
increase in storm-water run-off for the life of the project.

4. Close loopholes in the Stream Conservation Area ordinance and 
modify the draft County-wide Plan to eliminate provisions that allow 
new construction in the SCA and a net loss of critical riparian 

In recognizing that measures which protect coho salmon in their 
freshwater habitat will also benefit a wide range of species 
including threatened steelhead trout and chinook salmon, and over 225 
birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians depend on California's 
riparian habitat (3), we urge the County of Marin to take new 
IMMEDIATE and urgent actions to implement the highest standards of 
protections for the San Geronimo Valley headwaters region, which 
include both incentives to encourage voluntary actions of San 
Geronimo Valley residents, but also adequate regulations to prevent 
continued loss and degradation of habitat.  It is important to 
understand that the activities that occur in the San Geronimo Valley 
that result in loss of spawning, refuge and nursery habitat, and 
pollute streams with documented high levels of fecal coliform, 
sediment and nutrients impact the entire Lagunitas population of coho 
that occur downstream in our State and National Parks.

Signatures as of _____ February 2010.

NOTE:  All affiliations for identification purposes only
Name	Affiliation

Dr. Peter Moyle	Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation 
Biology and Center for Watershed

Dr. Steven R. Beissinger	A. Starker Leopold Chair in Wildlife 
Biology and Professor of Conservation Biology Department of 
Environmental Science, Policy & Management, Division of Ecosystem 
Todd Steiner
                   a project of TURTLE ISLAND RESTORATION NETWORK

PO Box 370, Forest Knolls, CA 94933 USA
9255 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Olema, CA 94950
PH. 415 663-8590 ext.103 * FAX 415 663-9534


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