Wetlands and Waterways

Redwood Creek Juvenile Coho Habitat Restoration

The sights and sounds of Redwood Creek cascading through the valley of Muir Woods National Monument greet millions of visitors each year. The creek is the lifeblood of this old growth redwood forest and of one of the most natural watersheds left in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is also home to endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout.

Most visitors to Muir Woods probably do not notice the boulders and rocks that line over 60% of the creek’s banks. A remanent of Civilian Conservation Corps-era work, these rock banks artificially constrain the creek, preventing many natural stream functions, including the development of juvenile salmon habitat.

“Rock Out” Redwood Creek in Muir Woods

This “Rock Out” project will remove a portion of the rock riprap, allowing the creek to form natural habitat features so desperately needed for juvenile salmon survival. The natural movement of water will then be able to finish the job by evolving the creek from its current fossilized state to a more complex system suitable for an old growth forest like Muir Woods.

Rock removal will be targeted to maximize habitat benefits, protect sensitive resources, and avoid impacts to nearby trails. Because the creek is such an important feature of the valley, this project will also provide a number of public engagement opportunities.

Rock riprap lining Redwood Creek’s banks prevents the natural formation of vital habitat for young coho salmon

A Civilian Conservation Corps crew installing rock riprap along the banks of Redwood Creek, circa 1936

Few juvenile coho live in Redwood Creek in Muir Woods despite the fact that many adults lay their eggs in this area

Unconfined streams that have the flexibility and space to move and adjust to changing conditions are able to support more plant and animal life