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SALMON SCIENTIST LTR Sign-On- Join Drs. Peter Moyle, John McCosker and others


Todd Steiner <[log in to unmask]>


Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>


Fri, 5 Feb 2010 08:28:20 -0800





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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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