Prairie Creek Floodplain Restoration

Prairie Creek Floodplain Restoration

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Project Goal:

Restore salmonid stream channel and floodplain rearing habitat on a highly degraded abandoned Mill Site through a multi-phase design and implementation program. Establish the Save the Redwoods League’s property as a key focal location for visitors to Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) to experience the restored lower Prairie Creek, critical habitat for coho salmon and steelhead, and the magnificence of old-growth redwoods through a trail network and Gateway visitor center at the heart of RNSP.

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Project Stages

Impact Study

Conceptual Design


Permitting Phase


Estimated Completion Date:


Project Funders

Save the Redwoods League
California State Coastal Conservancy

Fish Affected:

Project Description

The Prairie Creek Restoration Project is located 3.5 miles upstream from the ocean and marks a very important location in the lives of salmon and steelhead in the Redwood Creek watershed–this site is the last downstream opportunity to provide floodplain rearing habitat in the system. The project is a collaborative effort with Save the Redwoods League (League), California Trout, the Yurok Tribe, the National Park Service, California State Parks, NOAA Restoration Center, NMFS, State Coastal Conservancy, CDFW, USACE, and local consultants.

Prairie Creek is one of the most pristine redwood watersheds remaining in California. It is critical habitat for threatened Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead, as well as coastal cutthroat trout. Between this location and the ocean, however, habitat conditions for salmonids are extremely poor. At the project site, the creek has steep banks and below the site, flood control levees confine the creek. Both settings leave little room for juvenile salmonids to access off-channel floodplain habitat which provides shelter from high flows and rich habitat to feed and grow prior to outmigration to the ocean.

Working closely with our partners, CalTrout is leading a team to design and implement restoration of Prairie Creek and tributaries to provide floodplain connectivity, and increase wetland and native vegetation. In 2021, our project team is preparing for the first phase of on-the-ground construction. This phase will implement the most upstream portion of the channel and floodplain reconstruction by excavating an off-channel habitat feature and preparing the Visitor Center site for placement of fill materials. We will also implement some invasive plant control measures as a preventative step to begin the dirt-moving.

Project Partners:

Save the Redwoods League
California State Coastal Conservancy

Northern Hydrology & Engineering
McBain & Associates
Lang, Railsback & Associates
Redwood Sciences Laboratory
Redwood Coast Action Agency

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