Sonoma Resource Conservation District

Mark West

Mark West

To view the watershed details, click on the watershed Overview" text to expose the details. Click on the "Watershed Overview" text again to close the text.

Watershed Overview

Current & Past RCD Programs:


The RCD has worked with many agricultural producers in the Mark West Watershed to enhance their farming operations and protect soil and water resources. Projects include the development of LandSmart Plans, implementation of frost protection alternatives, enhancement of riparian areas, erosion control, and hedgerow plantings

Watershed Scale Planning

Maacama and Mark West Integrated Watershed Management Plan: The RCD has developed a comprehensive Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the Upper Mark West and Maacama Creek Watersheds. This plan integrates and updates the draft Upper Mark West Management Plan and the completed Maacama Watershed Plan. A copy of the watershed management plan is available on our Publications page.


The RCD is continuing to work throughout both watersheds with interested landowners to address resource management concerns. The goal is to investigate and evaluate current and historic conditions and recommend a prioritized set of actions and programs to improve water quality and riparian and aquatic habitat conditions in the watersheds.

On-the-Ground Projects

  • In 2013, the RCD worked in collaboration with the Pepperwood Preserve and the City of Santa Rosa on a sediment reduction project in the Mark West Creek Watershed. Through this project improvements were made on 3+ miles of unpaved road and 26 stream crossings, preventing more than 3,100 cubic yards of sediment delivery from entering Mark West Creek.
  • The development of riparian enhancement plans: The RCD is actively working with landowners to develop and implement projects to enhance the creek and stabilize eroding stream banks. The purpose of this work is to improve the quality and extent of the riparian habitat and keep viable the surrounding property on rural residential and agricultural lands.
    • In 2011, the RCD worked in collaboration with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (SCAPOSD) and Friends of the Mark West Watershed to secure funding for a two-day planting project. This project incorporated local high school students from the RCD's FARMS Leadership program in the installation of 200 native riparian plants on the Cresta Property along Mark West and Porter Creeks.
  • Road Assessments and erosion control and road maintenance plans:  Between March 2006 and September 2007 the RCD implemented the Upper Mark West Creek Sediment Reduction Project. Through this project road improvements were carried out on 12 miles of unpaved road involving over 70 landowners preventing approximately 14,000 cubic yards of fine sediment delivery from entering the creek over the decade. 

Agriculture and Natural Resource 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 brought a variety of educational events to the Mark West watershed to engage landowners and the public about watershed issues, opportunities for habitat enhancement and technical/financial assistance opportunities. Some of these include:
    • FARMS Leadership high school youth education programming and restoration project implementation on school field days.
    • Partnered to put on a Coho Celebration Event at the Pepperwood Preserve to highlight the return of wild coho in the watershed and other related work being carried out.
    • Collaborates with local landowners and watershed partners to host LandSmart Workshops and Agricultural Heritage Series public outings.
    • The RCD has helped provide public access to private Open Space conservation easement protected lands in the watershed by leading outings and participating in partner outings at properties such as Saddle Mountain and Cresta.

Water Resource Management

  • The RCD is one of six partners in the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership (Partnership), a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Coho Keystone Initiative ( The Partnership was formed in 2009 to develop a systematic approach to improve streamflow and water supply reliability in Mill, Grape Creek and Mark West Watersheds and three other sub-watersheds critical to coho recovery in the Russian River watershed. The Partnership’s goals are to further the recovery of coho salmon through habitat and streamflow enhancements and improve water security for property owners.
  • Slow it, Spread It, Sink It, Store It!” practices are implemented with landowners throughout the watershed. These practices can help to protect and replenish groundwater resources, reduce erosion and pollution, prevent flooding and increase water conservation and stormwater management.
    • In 2015, the RCD in collaboration with watershed partners began a landowner outreach effort for the implementation of rainwater catchment systems. The RCD has fourteen potential sites for tank installation, some of which are planned on actively managed forest land. These projects are intended to replace the use of groundwater in the summer months with rainwater captured during the winter. Stay tuned for more updates in 2016.

Links to other important programs in the watershed:

Friends of the Mark West Watershed
Pepperwood Preserve
Sonoma Land Trust
Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership Program
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
United States Army Corps of Engineers
United States Department of Agriculture
United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Fish & Wildlife Service
California Coastal Conservancy
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
California Regional Water Quality Control Boards, North Coast Region
California State Water Resources Control Board
University of California Cooperative Extension
Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works
Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department
Sonoma County Public Health Division
Sonoma County Regional Parks Department
Sonoma County Water Agency
Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner
San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board
Sonoma County Farm Bureau
Sonoma County Farm Trails
Sonoma County Winegrape Commission
California Waterfowl Association
Community Alliance of Family Farmers
Trout Unlimited

For more information about the Mark West Watershed please contact Anya Starovoytov at 707.569.1448 ext 109 or