Mill Creek residents' partner to build watershed resiliency

Community resiliency is exemplified as Mill Creek rainwater tank installation kicks off in this critical salmonid-bearing watershed. State and federal fisheries agencies have identified Mill Creek and its tributaries as providing some of the best remaining habitat for endangered coho salmon in the Russian River watershed. Insufficient summer flow is a primary limited factor for rearing coho and steelhead survival.

Following the devastation of the Walbridge Fire of 2020, this subwatershed of the Russian River is rebuilding and innovating. In collaboration with many private landowners, The Sonoma RCD, Trout Unlimited, and the California Sea Grant Russian River Salmon & Steelhead Monitoring Program have partnered to construct a minimum of 18 water storage systems totaling 300,000 gallons over the next two years on fire-impacted properties.

The first multi-rainwater tank installation project is slated for completion this month. Winter water storage from these rainwater tanks reduces the use of dry-season ground and surface water by replacing demand with stored water during the late summer and early fall months. These projects aim to be a model for other watersheds in the West by addressing the needs of fish and people. Check out our Instagram account @SonomaRCD to follow the progress of these projects happening in Mill Creek and Mark West Creek.

Funding for this program came from the California Wildlife Conservation Board’s Proposition 1 Stream Flow Enhancement Program.