Protecting Coho Salmon on French Creek
4 minute read
Program: Scott River Water Trust (SRWT): French Creek Flow Enhancement
Location: French Creek, Scott River watershed, California
· Flow Restoration & Stewardship
· Wildlife Habitat Protection
Located in the mountains of Northern California’s Russian Wilderness, French Creek is an important tributary to the Scott River, which links to the Klamath River, eventually flowing into to the Pacific Ocean. As part of the 58-mile long Scott River watershed, French Creek provides water for timber harvesting, ranching, field irrigation, and is an important habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including some threatened and endangered species. It is one of the most important producers of Coho Salmon in the entire Klamath basin, which spans Northern California and Southern Oregon, yielding almost 50% of California’s wild Coho population. It is also a vital rearing ground for Chinook salmon and Steelhead Trout
Dry climate conditions and increased water use have contributed to historic declines in precipitation, snowpack and stream flows on French Creek and in the surrounding Scotts River watershed. The area has been identified under the EPA’s Clean Water Act as having impaired water quality because of elevated temperatures and sediment levels, especially in the late summer. These conditions pose a significant threat to salmonid populations like the Coho who rely on strong flows of cool, clear water to spawn and for the healthy growth of hatchlings.
As one of many efforts to protect and maintain a healthy water supply in the watershed, the community-supported Scott River Water Trust (SRWT) was formed in 2009.
As the first active water trust in California, SRWT operates with the support and cooperation of businesses like ECOS, local farmers, ranchers, and agencies. The trust develops and negotiates voluntary long-term and permanent water leases from agricultural producers during the low stream flow periods in late summer. This frees up water to be used to increase flows in priority fish habitats like French Creek, helping maintain a healthy environment and reducing stress on juvenile Coho, Chinook, and Steelhead populations when they need it the most.
ECOS is honored to champion the work of organizations like SRWT that are helping to keep the water in rivers and streams like California’s French Creek clean and healthy, ensuring resilient wild fish populations, supporting family farms, and providing beautiful scenic enjoyment for generations to come.