Salmon and Steelhead
California Sea Grant has been working to help recover endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead under the leadership of Extension Specialist Mariska Obedzinski. For nearly two decades, we monitored these keystone fish populations and environmental conditions in Russian River streams to document status, trends, habitat suitability and limiting factors.
While much of our former field monitoring has transitioned to Sonoma Water, we continue to work closely with partners to support salmonid recovery efforts in the Russian River basin and throughout coastal California.
Our monitoring and research is funded by the US Army Corps of Engineers, Wildlife Conservation Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NOAA Fisheries and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, with contributions from Sonoma Water. Our work is made possible through the gracious support of hundreds of private landowners throughout the Russian River watershed.
The number of returning adults is an important metric in coho salmon recovery, as these fish are the basis of future wild coho populations. NOAA Fisheries has established a recovery target of 10,100 adult coho salmon returning each winter to the Russian River basin.
Sea Grant and Sonoma Water biologists conduct snorkel surveys each summer in order to document the presence and distribution of salmon and steelhead and to establish a minimum count of wild coho. In these surveys, they count coho and steelhead young-of-the-year (yoy).
California Sea Grant biologists operate funnel net traps on key tributaries each spring to monitor the downstream migration of coho smolts (one-year old fish) as they make their way to the ocean.
Our biologists use tiny devices called Passive Integrated Transponders (PIT) tags, that allow them to identify and track individual coho salmon from their release as juveniles to their return as adults.
Reports & Publications
Our monitoring and research outcomes have been documented in a number of reports, articles and updates, which can be viewed or downloaded as pdf files.
Russian River watershed INFORMATION
Historically, the Russian River watershed had the largest population of coho salmon in the Central California Coast Ecologically Significant Unit and was a world-renowned steelhead fishing destination. Today, it is home to three species of threatened and endangered salmonids and a diversity of native fish.
Russian River Videos
We work with a broad network of collaborative partners to support salmon and steelhead recovery and associated ecosystem restoration efforts throughout coastal California. Our partners include agency personnel, academic researchers, public, private and NGO resource professionals, and hundreds of community members throughout the Russian River watershed.
Seen in the Press
SF CHRONICLE | Dec 23, 2022
California drought poses more obstacles to young Russian River coho salmon
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