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Celebrating Habitat Successes Large and Small

In 1996, the first pilot project of NOAA’s Community-Based Restoration Program (CRP) was born in Santa Rosa, California. The project to restore Brush Creek exemplified the main tenets of the program: community service, habitat restoration, and support for endangered fish populations. From that success, the program has grown to include more than 2,000 projects across the country.

Restoring an Urban Creek

Brush Creek is a small creek that runs through a highly urbanized area of Santa Rosa and provides habitat for endangered steelhead trout. It is also part of the Russian River watershed, which is a Habitat Focus Area under NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint. The creek once provided high quality habitat for steelhead and rainbow trout, but it has been degraded by development and other factors.

As part of the restoration effort, school children planted 2,000 trees along 1.5 miles of Brush Creek. The trees provided shade for steelhead, and helped stabilize the creek banks. Part of the creek was returned to a more natural condition by creating areas with lower flow and hiding places for fish. These improvements could better support adult fish when resting, and young fish while they are growing.

Today, you can see tall trees lining the creek and more juvenile steelhead using the stream. The trees that were planted also make the creek a welcome retreat for the citizens of Santa Rosa all year round.

Scaling Up for the Future

Today, the NOAA Restoration Center continues to support CRP projects like Brush Creek, but on a much larger scale. We completed a similar restoration project on Lower Terwer Creek, part of the Klamath River in northern California. We worked with the Yurok Tribe to plant 25,000 native trees and shrubs, stabilize creek banks, and create two acres of off-channel ponds.

The results of this project were amazing: young coho salmon in the new ponds grew six times larger and three times longer than those in the main part of the creek.

Posted June 15, 2015

Brush Creek Before.
Brush Creek After.