In an astonishing conversation with Nick Bauer Fisheries Biologist with the UC Cooperative Extension, it was learned that a few WILD central coast coho salmon returned to Green Valley Creek this fall. Because there are still so few wild Coho in the world, this is exciting and some what unexpected news. “This breathes new life into efforts to bring back a self-sustaining population of these resilient and biologically important fish,” explained Larry Hanson coordinator of the restoration effort on lower Green Valley Creek.
More good news is that John Green a scientist withe the Coho PArtnership estimated that due to new water conservation strategies, approximately 500,000 gallons of water has recently been conserved and will not be taken from the stream system when the salmon need it. “With some good luck and all the riparian and upland watershed residents doing their part, we can all feel proud that the many efforts to be good stewards of the land may be paying off,” commented John Roberts board member of the Atascadero Green Valley Watershed Council. Water conservation and erosion control are key elements needed to ensure that the effort to provide habitat is successful.
It will be a great day for wine when grape growers and winery owners in the Atascadero Green Valley Creek watershed can ask more for their wines because of the self sustaining coho population quietly utilizing the habitat that meanders through these woods and agricultural lands. Tom Veader a long time restoration volunteer and student of the environment and watersheds concluded that, “when that day comes, it will be because of the generosity, intelligence, and single minded refusal of the people to stand by and watch as the resilient salmon floundered and perished in our important local creek.”
The effort to save the salmon in our little, and biologically very significant, Green Valley Creek is large, and much public money is being committed as well as many volunteer hours. Scientists, land owners, and local residents are working together toward something exciting and historic. If you want to become involved, have water conservation questions, want to talk about storage of water, rain water collection, erosion control on cultivated lands, or the like, please contact Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District or any member of the Coho Partnership including Dr. Matt Deitch of the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration for information on stream monitoring contact. Brock Dolman of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center can provide information on fish, water conservation, and rain water harvesting, and Brian Johnson of Trout Unlimited has information on water rights questions.