We have some big news to share, courtesy of our partners at the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District: biologists recently spotted three spawning Coho salmon in Pescadero Creek!
To understand why we’re so excited, you have to first understand the Coho lifecycle. Coho salmon live in the Pacific Ocean for the majority of their lives, but swim inland to freshwater streams to spawn. California’s coastal streams once teemed with Coho salmon. The state boasted an estimated 500,000 Coho in the 1940s, but factors like overfishing and loss of habitat have reduced their population to only 5,000 today. Coho are an endangered species here on the central coast of California, so they are extra-rare in the area that POST works to protect. Plus, Coho salmon only spawn once, so this sighting was, quite literally, the event of a lifetime. It’s also exciting to see Coho returning to Pescadero Creek, which borders or crosses four POST-protected properties. The Creek was historically home to thousands of Coho and remains a critical habitat for the fish.
POST protects the land that surrounds the waterways where these fish live, but we are also preserving the quality of the streams themselves. Along with an array of private and public partners, we’re working to improve fish habitat and passage in Pescadero Creek and other waterways that pass through POST-protected land. On the San Mateo Coast, we’re increasing irrigation efficiency on farms in order to keep stream levels constant. In nearby Santa Cruz County on POST-protected San Vicente Redwoods, we implemented a variety of measures to ensure fish can safely navigate the trip upstream to spawn in San Vicente Creek.
We’re thrilled to see that projects like these are generating results even in the midst of our current drought. Most importantly, we are grateful that these iconic fish are returning, slowly but surely, to their ancestral habitat. To learn more about Coho salmon in our area, click here.
Photos: Coho Salmon, Courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); Daphne Miller © Stacy Geiken 2015;