Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Austin Creek

Austin Creek Watershed

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Watershed Overview

Current & Past RCD Programs:


Watershed Planning

  • RCD completed a Watershed Assessment of Austin Creek. This watershed-wide assessment utilized historical documents, several decades of aerial photography, and current geo-spatial information to analyze the watershed and assess current conditions. The final report discusses erosion problems, areas of major vegetation changes, and other issues related to water quality and anadromous fish habitats. The assessment also includes recommendations to improve water quality and aquatic habitats within Austin Creek and its tributaries.

On-the-Ground Projects

  • The RCD completed storm-proofing 56 sediment source features on 9.39 miles of hydrologically connected roads for a total of 8,111 yd3 sediment savings. The roads were near Gray Creek, a tributary to Austin Creek. Implementation was made possible by the Department of Water Resources Proposition 84 Integrated Regional Water Management program, The Coastal Conservancy, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • The RCD implemented a Large Woody Material (LWM) project on Thompson Creek, a tributary to Austin Creek. The goals of the project were to provide additional pools, shelter, and increase gravel sorting and storage to improve available spawning habitat. The project added 21 pieces of LWM to the low flow channel, a seven-fold increase relative to pre-project conditions. Funding was provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • The RCD implemented eight Large Woody Material (LWM) sites with a total of 23 logs on Gilliam Creek, a tributary to Austin Creek. The goal of the project was to increase habitat complexity, cover, pool scour, and high flow refugia for coho salmon. The project was made possible from funding from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • The Austin Creek Watershed Restoration Program involves the RCD actively working with private landowners and public lands managers within the Austin Creek watershed to develop and implement projects to enhance riparian and instream habitat, stabilize eroding stream banks, and decrease anthropogenic fine sediment inputs into the stream system. With funding provided by the CA Coastal Conservancy, Sonoma RCD implemented in 2012 the Gilliam Creek Instream Habitat Restoration Project – Phase I. Also to be implemented in 2012 was the Thompson Creek Instream Habitat Restoration Project funded through the CA Department of Fish and Game’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program. Gilliam Creek and Thompson Creek are major tributaries of East Austin Creek and both projects involve the placing of large wood structures in the creeks in order to enhance conditions for salmonid habitat.
  • The RCD is actively working with landowners and public lands within the Austin Creek watershed to develop and implement projects to enhance riparian and instream habitat, and stabilize eroding stream banks. Austin Creek is a focus of the RCD’s Rural Roads Improvement Program. Sonoma RCD began implementing the Austin Creek Sediment Source Reduction Implementation Project in 2013 and it will continue through 2014. This project will enhance, protect, and restore salmonid habitat by controlling and preventing road-related erosion and sediment delivery at 96 sites in the watershed identified as a part of the comprehensive “Austin Creek Watershed Assessment and Inventory project” conducted in 2010-2011. Cost effective erosion control and erosion prevention techniques will eliminate delivery of more than 13,000 yd³ of sediment into the Austin Creek watershed.

Water Resource Management

  • The RCD has conducted general water quality monitoring throughout the Austin Creek watershed during the summer months since 2005, and ended in 2012. This program has been funded primarily by the Sonoma County Water Agency, and initially by the State Water Resource Control Board. During the past seven years, temperature data loggers have been placed throughout upper and lower reaches of Big Austin, East Austin, and Kidd Creek. Bacterial monitoring was conducted in 2004-06. In 2004 and 2010, macroinvertebrate sampling was conducted in Upper Big Austin, and in Kidd Creek in 2004. Bulk sampling, to quantify baseline sediment composition, was conducted in 2004-2006 in Upper Big Austin, East Austin, and Kidd Creeks. Streamflow and rainfall gauging records cover a few years. Restoration actions are evaluated and informed by quantitative monitoring, and water quality and quantity monitoring, ideally long term which provide quantitative results, has aided in determining trends that indicate the success of Austin Creek watershed projects and programs that are put in place to improve aquatic habitat throughout the watershed

Links to Other Important Partner Programs in the Watershed
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
University of California Cooperative Extension Coho Salmon Monitoring and Broodstock program
Trout Unlimited

For more information about the Austin Creek Watershed, please contact Aaron Fairbrook at 707.569.1448 ext 106 or