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.


~ 1mile of floodplain channel restored

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Project Stages

Impact Study

Conceptual Design

Planning

Permitting Phase

Implementation

Estimated Completion Date:
2023

Region:

Project Funders

Save the Redwoods League
California State Coastal Conservancy
NOAA

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 runs through Redwood National and State Parks and is one of the most pristine redwood watersheds remaining in California; and is critical habitat for threatened Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead, as well as coastal cutthroat trout. The coho population in Redwood Creek is one of the largest within its range, and almost all of the coho derive from Prairie Creek. Between this location and the ocean, however, habitat conditions for salmonids are extremely poor. At the site the creek has steep banks and below the site treeless flood control levees confine the creek in an orderly channel. Both settings leave little room for juvenile salmonids to access off-channel floodplain habitat that provides shelter from high flows and rich habitat to feed and grow prior to outmigration to the ocean.

Working closely with the League, 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. This project site marks the most unique position of being able to improve habitat for all juvenile salmonids in the entire 282-square-mile Redwood creek watershed. The restoration of Prairie Creek is a part of the League and National Park’s visionary development of a new Redwood National and State Park Visitor Center. At this World Heritage Site, restoration of critical floodplain habitat for threatened Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead will be showcased for visitors from around the world.

Project Partners:

Save the Redwoods League
California State Coastal Conservancy
NOAA
CDFW
USFWS
Yurok

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

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