County Planning Department and Fish & Game Commissions Responded
The Coho Restoration Subcommittee has been working to inform and motivate local agencies and local government to incorporate the NOAA Coho Restoration Plan’s guidelines into their policies and procedures. (And to be ready to do the same with the Steelhead Restoration Plan when it is finalized.) Letters to both the SLV Water District and the County of Santa Cruz (including the Board of Supervisors and various affected departments and commissions) were carefully composed with an extensive Appendix featuring the specific steps needed and their priority. When you look at the Coho Recovery Plan map, our watershed is a crucial part of Coho restoration, especially Zayante, Bean and Branciforte Creeks.
Jon Ambrose, a NOAA biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, was one of the writers of the Coho Recovery Plan which formed the basis of the information included in the Subcommittee’s letters. In an email to the committee, Jon was eloquent in his expression of the need for significant and rapid improvements in land use, water consumption and riparian protection. Ambrose stated that he too was frustrated by the attitude that people “ ‘know’ coho cannot be recovered even though no one has lifted a finger in 25 years to push a coho restoration project forward in the SLR. It’s easy to predict the future when folks do nothing to change it. I used to work in Mendocino County and sampled extensively in one of the larger watersheds for eight years prior to coming to NMFS. The watershed was devastated by early logging practices and I was positive it would not see decent coho rearing in the mainstems for at least 50 years. Seven years later they are there in decent numbers – because the timber company that now manages that watershed (Ten Mile River) implemented a large number of projects to address key limiting factors for coho. No one has tried to do that for coho in the San Lorenzo River, even on a small scale. Most of our work (you, me, and other concerned folks) is spent trying to keep more bad stuff from happening in the SLR, which is all fine and good. But stopping the house from burning down is not enough to restore it…. I will not accept it is not possible if we do not even try to fix things.
Projects for coho will improve things for steelhead – and steelhead projects MAY improve things for coho. But they have to be the right types of project. Coho do not need passage projects – they can get to where they need to go in the SLR as adults. The unfortunate thing is their young cannot survive the summer – that what we need to fix. They need cool water, wood, and clean substrates….”
The VWC’s Coho Restoration Subcommittee has received confirmation of receipt from Supervisor McPherson, Planning Director Kathy Previsich, Planning Commission Clerk Elizabeth Hayward, and County Fishery Resource Planner (Environmental Health) Kristen Kittleson. Ms Kittleson is bringing the letter (see below) to the County Fish and Game Commission for action. The Subcommittee is also working to see that restoration projects can be undertaken to help assure coho and steelhead have improved habitat and that enforcement of riparian corridor and erosion control ordinances will improve their chances of survival as well. Questions or concerns can be directed to Nancy Macy firstname.lastname@example.org.