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Water Storage in Salmon Watersheds


Water Storage in Salmon Watersheds

By Christine Kuehn

The Sonoma Resource Conservation District has accelerated its long term efforts to work with rural and agricultural landowners in Russian River watersheds that are critical to Coho salmon survival.

The RCD leads voluntary efforts with landowners to develop water storage projects that will have a positive impact on streamflow conditions in Mark West and Mill Creek Watersheds through the Russian River Coho Partnership, an ongoing program aimed at restoring critical streamflow.

“We’ve known for quite some time that streamflow was a critical conservation issue in these watersheds and are heartened by the new level of landowner participation in these important projects,” said Kara Heckert, RCD Executive Director.

The RCD is currently working on 19 rainwater catchments projects with a variety of landowners, both agricultural and rural.  Justin Bodell, RCD Project Manager, said, “These projects represent a vital step in a long journey toward balancing water needs for fish and people.”

Many landowners in these watersheds are invested in the health of their streams and fish, and recent Conservation and Information Orders from the State Water Resource Control Board have increased awareness about streamflow issues.

Mill Creek landowner, Jeanne Zbinden said, “This is a great project because it gives us a more reliable water supply and it helps the Coho, too.”

Funding for the projects are provided by Sonoma RCD, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership (, California Department of Water Resources, County of Sonoma, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private landowner contributions.

For more information contact Kara Heckert, Executive Director at or 707-478-2003.

Christine Kuehnis is the Program Coordinator for the Sonoma Resource Conservation District