Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Gualala River

Gualala Watershed


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Watershed Overview

Current and Past RCD Programs:

The RCD can provide technical assistance to Gualala landowners and managers as well as direct landowners to other sources of educational, technical or financial assistance based on the natural resource concern. Past RCD projects are described below. Please contact us if you are interested in hearing more about how the RCD's programs and services can support you.

Watershed Planning

  • Watershed Planning includes the development of local Integrated Watershed Management Plans involving numerous stakeholders to determine how to more effectively manage the watershed in which they live. One way that Sonoma RCD has helped bring landowners together in the Gualala Watershed was through helping to form and establishment of the Gualala River Watershed Council (GRWC), whose purpose is to provide an environment for landowners, resource managers, agencies, community organizations and interested citizens to work towards restoring the natural balance of the Gualala River Watershed.
  • In 2005, the Sonoma RCD in partnership with GRWC helped secure funds from the State Coastal Conservancy and implement the Gualala Estuary and Lower River Enhancement Plan. The Study determined the carrying capacity and health of the estuarine ecosystem for salmonids, as well as confirmed its importance in terms of over-all Gualala River ecosystem function.

On-the-Ground Projects

  • Instream Habitat Enhancement Projects: Since 1996 the RCD has partnered with the Gualala River Watershed Council (GRWC) to secure funding and implement instream habitat projects for the improvement of salmonid habitat. The RCD was instrumental in implementing an instream habitat enhancement project that spanned four-phases and was implemented over 7 years from 2000 to 2006. Approximately, 284,000 board feet or nearly 400 pieces of non-merchantable logs were installed on various streams throughout the Gualala River Watershed on the Gualala Redwoods Inc (GRI) property. This collaborative project increased pool scour and creation, provided increased cover and habitat for coho salmon and steelhead, and reduced winter flow velocities.
  • Rural Roads Improvement Program: Since 1996 the RCD has partnered with the GRWC to secure funding and perform CEQA compliance in order to conduct a number of sediment source assessments and implement rural road improvement projects on large industrial timber properties. Some of these include the Fuller Creek Road Storm Proofing Project, the Kelly Road, Wolf Creek, and Tombs Creek Road Assessments, and the Quarry Bridge Restoration Project. During the 2003-04 Little North Fork Road Improvement Project, 187 sites on 45 miles of road were upgraded and storm-proofed preventing thousands of cubic feet of sediment from entering the adjacent streams. The implementation of this roadwork resulted in the improvement of water quality by reducing upslope erosion impacts to aquatic resources which, in turn, enhanced anadramous salmonid habitat in the tributaries and mainstem of the Gualala River Watershed. Additionally, the landowner benefits greatly from these projects because correctly storm-proofed roads last much longer and require less maintenance

Water Resource Management

  • The RCD helped secure funding for the Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) for Monitoring Sediment Reduction in the Gualala River Watershed which the GRWC manages. Additionally, Sonoma RCD assisted in outreaching and finding new landowners to participate in the program. This is one of the most extensive water quality monitoring programs in the State, and includes 35 monitoring reaches and 110 water and air temperature monitoring sites throughout the Gualala Watershed. At each monitoring site the GRWC surveys thalweg elevations, cross-section elevations, riparian vegetation, canopy density, substrate size and composition, water and air temperature, and instream large wood abundance. For more information, visit

Agricultural and Environmental Education

  • The RCD is dedicated to educating the public about land stewardship and natural resource conservation focused on rural residential and agricultural lands. The RCD has partnered with GRWC to bring a variety of educational events to the Gualala Watershed to engage landowners and the public about watershed issues, opportunities for habitat enhancement and technical/financial assistance opportunities.

Links to important organizations in the watershed

Gualala River Watershed Council (GRWC):  http://
The Nature Conservancy:
The Conservation
Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space
Sonoma Land Trust:

For more information about the Gualala Watershed please contact Valerie Minton, Acting Executive Director at 707.569.1448 ext 102 or