Salmon and Steelhead
For more than a decade, California Sea Grant’s Russian River Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program has been conducting broad-scale monitoring and specialized research under the leadership of Extension Specialist Mariska Obedzinski. We monitor native salmon and steelhead at all life stages and 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.
Russian River watershed and our native fish
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.
The support of the community is critical to salmon and steelhead recovery. We require permission from thousands of streamside landowners to conduct our work. We also run seasonal internship programs to help train future scientists within our community.
Our team is based in the Russian River watershed in Sonoma County, California. We work with a broad network of collaborative partners, including hundreds of landowners, to support salmon and steelhead recovery, and associated ecosystem restoration efforts, throughout coastal California.
Seen in the Press
LA TIMES | Dec 3, 2020
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