October 8, 2015

You and your city can protect forests, water, and climate

Photo courtesy Sam Beebe on Flickr Creative Commons.

Photo courtesy Sam Beebe on Flickr Creative Commons.

So far San Francisco, Berkeley, Davis, Daly City, Monte Sereno, and Menlo Park have passed resolutions banning clearcutting. Saratoga and Sunnyvale have taken other supportive actions.

Why are a growing number of cities, where no clearcutting occurs, speaking out against the practice? “Given how critical water is to all Californians and how important healthy forest ecosystems are to California’s water production, we need to do what we can to protect water at its source,” stated Menlo Park City Councilmember Ray Mueller who initiated his city’s action.

What happens in the forests is important to California cities. Three-quarters of our water is captured, filtered, and stored in forested watersheds. In addition, US forests absorbed over 10 percent of US carbon dioxide emissions in 2004, according to EPA statistics. So even though the clearcutting takes place in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the North Coast, it impacts all Californians by degrading watersheds and reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is sequestered in our forests.

Clearcutting is an ecologically destructive form of logging in which nearly all native vegetation is removed, soils are deep-ripped, and herbicides are applied across the landscape. It harms water quality, wildlife habitat, and exacerbates climate change. It replaces diverse forests with monoculture tree farms that can have a higher risk of catching fire.

Timber can be harvested using a less destructive method known as selective logging, which involves the removal of some trees while leaving the forest intact. Selective logging is the method used in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Marin Counties.

Logging operations on private lands are determined by the governor and the state legislature. So the timber industry spends large amounts of money each year lobbying our legislators to maintain clearcut logging operations and weaken forestry regulations.

The Sierra Club and our coalition partners don’t have the money to hire legions of lobbyists, but we can educate the legislators and the public about the damage that clearcutting does to the environment. Passing resolutions to ban clearcutting in California cities provides us an opportunity to speak out and be heard.

Eight cities have supported the campaign so far. The more cities that pass our resolution, the more strength we will be able to demonstrate to legislators and the governor. We would like to get 20 cities pass a resolution calling for a ban on clearcutting by the end of the year.


Here are the steps to passing a resolution in your city.

  1. We supply the sample resolution.
  2. Attend a city council meeting or two to get a sense of how things work in your city.
  3. Make an appointment to talk to the city council member who is most likely to be supportive. Ask him/her to sponsor the resolution and ask what is the best way to proceed. Processes vary from city to city.
  4. Meet with other city council members as needed.
  5. If needed, get community groups to send letters to city council members in support of the resolution.
  6. Get the resolution on the city council calendar.
  7. On the night of the meeting, get 5-20 people to attend, depending on your estimate of how easy it will be to pass the resolution.
  8. Make sure your city council sends a copy of the resolution to their state legislators.

Should you decide to pass a resolution in your city, let us know. We can provide a sample press release and coach you through the process.

There are other ways to educate the public and let our legislators know we want an end to clearcutting such as gathering signatures on our petition to Governor Brown, writing letters to the editor about the importance of forests to climate and water, hosting a house party to show a forest video, asking organizations you belong to to support a ban on clearcutting California forests.

Contact Karen Maki at karenmaki@lomaprieta.sierraclub.org to find out more and get started!

—Karen Maki is the volunteer lead of the Sierra Club’s Stop Clearcutting California campaign.

Options for overnight accommodations in the backcountry may soon expand

The original White Rock Lake Hut.

The original White Rock Lake Hut.

Sierra Club huts have provided winter shelter for skiers and snowshoers exploring the backcountry between Sierraville and Echo Summit since the 1930s. The string of huts originally planned along the Sierra Crest was never completed, but the four that are operational today typically provide 3,000 visitor-nights of service per season (a fifth hut — the first built, at White Rock Lake — was apparently crushed by heavy snows in the early 1950s and removed). Ranger cabins in Yosemite and King Canyon and other buildings scattered through the mountains provide additional shelter, but the pool of overnight winter accommodations in the backcountry has remained relatively stable for decades. That may be about to change.

Renovations at the Peter Grubb Hut are nearly complete. The oldest of the Club’s four huts in the Tahoe/Donner region received steel reinforcements of roof rafters and floor joists in 2013. A new roof and seismic upgrades were added in 2014, and exterior mortar is being ‘repointed’ this year (primarily a cosmetic improvement). Once the repairs are finished, the Club will pursue plans to add a “mud room” on the north side, allowing more efficient use of the existing interior space. A slightly enlarged Peter Grubb Hut should soon be ready for another 50 years of service.

Volunteers at Peter Grubb Hut as structural repairs neared completion in November 2014.

Volunteers at Peter Grubb Hut as structural repairs neared completion in November 2014.

The Sierra Club has also entered into an agreement with the family of the late Paul Ward to study the feasibility of constructing a completely new hut. The family would provide funds for construction if a suitable site can be found, permits obtained, and the Club’s Board of Directors approves. A return to the White Rock Lake area is being explored with the U.S. Forest Service; private land held by the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) is being considered as a backup.

Separately, TDLT recently announced purchase of 455 acres on the north side of I-80 at Donner Summit. Although this acquisition does not by itself add huts, the Land Trust is well aware of the need for a new trailhead at this site for northbound hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail (and for improved winter access to Peter Grubb Hut and White Rock Lake). TDLT has also negotiated purchase of 1,320 acres in Carpenter Valley and Crabtree Canyon north of Truckee and views the property as a potential site for a “future backcountry ski hut”.

Finally, the Northern Sierra Partnership (NSP) — a collaboration of TDLT, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, the Feather River Land Trust, and the Sierra Business Council — has recently retained the services of two people who will develop a business plan for a potential system of huts in areas where NSP has interests, such as north of I-80.

The Sierra Club has been providing winter shelter for backcountry visitors for over 75 years. After half a century of maintaining the status quo, the Club is now embarking on upgrades of its existing facilities and expansion to new ones.  But the scene is changing and plans by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Northern Sierra Partnership may mean that the Club will soon have company in the hut business.

—Richard Simpson

Extend your backpacking to the most beautiful season of all with the Snowcamping Section!

photo(1)Have you always wanted to keep backpacking even after the warm weather ends, when you can experience true wilderness and solitude? Want to learn how to camp in the snow safely, comfortably, and with like-minded people? The Sierra Club Snowcamping Section’s annual training series, offered in Winter 2015 for the 47th year, has taught thousands of people the skills for winter navigation, shelter construction, how to stay warm, and other winter tips and tricks.

The training series teaches groups of either adults or families during a full-day classroom session in Emeryville, followed by two weekend trips (one two-day, one three-day) in the Sierras to practice what we’ve learned. Each group has at least two experienced co-leaders with years of experience and multiple assistant leaders to guarantee a small student-to-leader ratio.

Kids and snow are a natural match for big fun, so families with children eight and older have a special group that focuses on the unique challenges and joys of taking kids into the winter backcountry. There are also many alumni trips for graduates of the training series, since people bitten by the snowcamping bug can’t seem to stop. Youth groups may also be accommodated as space and staffing allow. This training is not for the complete rookie; all students must apply and we ask that all applicants be in good physical shape and have backpacking experience.

The early-bird application due date is November 30th; the final due date is December 20th. The full-day classroom training is January 9th. Trip dates vary by group. Sign up early to select dates that work for you and get the early bird discount. A limited number of scholarships are also available. For more information and to sign up, visit our web site at www.snowcamping.org or call Anne at (510)526-6792.

Safe harbor for Alameda’s seals — M.O.U. ensures replacement haul-out site

Photo courtesy Andrew Reding on Flickr.

Photo courtesy Andrew Reding on Flickr.

There’s great news on a project in the City of Alameda that could have left harbor seals homeless. As part of a project to construct a ferry-maintenance facility at Alameda’s Inner Bay Harbor, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) plans to remove an abandoned dock that harbor seals currently use for feeding, hauling out, and even delivering pups. But following a backlash from environmentalists and other fans of the seals, WETA has signed a Morandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Alameda to build an alternate haul-out site for the harbor seals to replace the old dock.

According to the staff report, WETA will establish a $100,000 holding fund earmarked for planning, design, and construction of the new haul out. The location of the haul out will be determined in coordination with the City, but WETA will be the lead party responsible for permitting and building the haul out — construction on which must begin on or before August 2016 and prior to demolition of the existing haul-out site. If the City determines that WETA is unable to commence construction of the new haul out by that date, it has the right to take over the project and use the funds in the holding fund account. Once the haul out has been built, WETA will be responsible for keeping the structure in good repair.

As the WETA representative admitted at a recent City Council meeting, they’re already spending tens of millions of dollars on this project, so they wouldn’t not agree to spend a relatively small amount more in order to be able to move forward. Whatever the reason, we’re thrilled that the seals will have safe “harbor” in Alameda!

Caring for California’s natural treasures: support funds for State Parks

Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Photo via Flickr.com/photos/34186459@N00/3545531114.

Mt. Tamalpais State Park. Photo via Flickr.com/photos/34186459@N00/3545531114.

California State Parks have been underfunded for years, resulting in reduced operations, threatened closures, and lack of adequate maintenance.  State Parks are important state assets, providing protection for our natural resources, healthy recreation opportunities for our citizens, and economic contributions to the local economy from visitor spending.

The Governor’s ​2015-16 ​budget proposes to provide a very modest one​-​time increase of $16 million to the Department of Parks and Recreation to maintain current service levels at California’s State Parks. Th​is funding stability is essential to allowing park leaders to focus on the needed internal operations improvements recommended in the Parks Forward Commission report, the goal of which is to ensure the system’s long-term viability. The Sierra Club encourages the appropriation of additional funds that would allow the parks system to increase hours at some parks and restore some services at others.​       ​

The ​Governor’s proposed budget also includes $20 million to address the deferred maintenance backlog in State Parks. We support an even larger allotment​ for deferred maintenance, which will help protect these precious state assets from further damage. Last year’s deferred maintenance budget allotment was never enacted.


Please contact your local Senator and Assemblyperson to urge support for the State Parks Budget appropriations and increases therein. You can find out who your representatives are online at http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov. State Parks in the Bay Chapter include Mt. Diablo State Park, Angel Island State Park, China Camp State Park, Mt. Tamalpais State Park, McLaughlin Eastshore State Park, and Candlestick Point State Park. They are the gems of the Bay Area, and are all heavily used by Bay Area residents and visitors from all over the world. They must be kept open, accessible to all, and adequately maintained.

— Alan Carlton



Letter to the editor — NPS: “Golden Gate National Recreation Area works to help coho salmon survive in Redwood Creek”

Redwood Creek watershed location

Redwood Creek watershed location

Coho salmon have been in the news lately, including the last issue of Yodeler. The number of salmon in Redwood Creek and elsewhere on the California Coast has dropped to alarmingly low levels.

The National Park Service (NPS) appreciates the public’s interest in the status of Redwood Creek salmon and what can be done to reverse their decline. As part of our stewardship mission we have been actively involved for several decades in working to protect and improve coho populations in the Redwood Creek.

Why have the salmon numbers dropped so low? The absence of progeny of the class of 2007-08 was the subject of the article in the December-January issue of the Yodeler, titled “On the brink: Is it too late to save the salmon of Redwood Creek in Muir Woods?” The reasons are complex, and require an understanding of the salmon life cycle.

Coho salmon are anadromous and generally spend one year in streams before migrating to the Pacific Ocean, to rear for another 1.5 years. Adults return to their streams of origin generally as three-year-olds, with little mixing among different year classes. During their lives, salmon are vulnerable to condition changes in the ocean and stream habitats. A study by National Marine Fisheries Service found that there was a 73% decline in coho salmon adults returning in winter 2007-08 to California streams due to unfavorable ocean conditions, particularly warm, low nutrient water that leads to lower food production. Almost no coho returned to Redwood Creek that year. When populations drop to extremely low levels, they are at a much higher risk due to inbreeding and unfavorable environmental conditions such as the droughts and extreme flood events that have characterized the past several years.

Since the early 1990s, the NPS has worked to improve habitat conditions for salmonids in the Redwood Creek watershed. While much of the watershed is in public ownership and managed by agencies and organizations with strong resource stewardship interests, there is a legacy of past land management activities including stream channelization and instream wood removal that reduced the natural capacity of the creek to support salmon.

Historical estimates of Central California Coast coho spawners (Source: National Marine Fisheries Service 2012 Coho Recovery Plan Executive Summary)

Historical estimates of Central California Coast coho spawners (Source: National Marine Fisheries Service 2012 Coho Recovery Plan Executive Summary)

In the early 2000s, the NPS participated with various stakeholders to develop a framework for habitat protection and restoration, including salmonids, at watershed and site-specific scales. We moved facilities away from drainages, added fencing to protect riparian habitat, and reduced adult salmon passage barriers. Several restoration projects are completed including instream and floodplain restoration at Muir Beach. We are working with other resource agencies and the water provider for the town of Muir Beach to improve summer instream flows for fish. Current projects include a captive rearing and release program to “jumpstart” the coho population, stream water quality assessment, and continued long-term monitoring of salmon and habitat conditions.

We have partnered with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) during the past two decades on this project. Gail Seymour, CDFW Supervisor, put it this way: “The NPS commitment to watershed restoration is a critical part of species recovery efforts in Redwood Creek as well as the overall Central California Coast coho salmon region.”

Helping the coho survive in Redwood Creek will take a concerted effort by resource agencies and the public. For those interested in helping, there are several winter volunteer opportunities. Visit http://go.usa.gov/zRVx to learn more.

— Darren Fong, Aquatic Ecologist, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Help us protect Berryessa Snow Mountain on Friday, December 19

Tired hikers in the extreme south of the proposed National Monument get a glimpse of Lake Berryessa. Photo courtesy of Tuleyome.

Tired hikers in the extreme south of the proposed National Monument get a glimpse of Lake Berryessa. Photo courtesy of Tuleyome.

The Berryessa Snow Mountain region is the crown jewel of Northern California’s wild Inner Coast Range. Efforts to protect this wild place go back over a decade. Right now, we finally have the opportunity to protect Berryessa Snow Mountain as a national monument — and we need your help!

Please attend an important public meeting about the future of Berryessa Snow Mountain this Friday:

Friday, December 19, 2-4 pm
Napa Valley College Performing Arts Center
2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy, Building 100 Napa, CA 94558

This meeting will be hosted by Representative Mike Thompson and attended by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Undersecretary of Agriculture Robert Bonnie, Representative John Garamendi and other officials seeking public response to the idea of protecting Berryessa Snow Mountain as a National Monument. Your attendance and enthusiasm at this meeting will go a long way toward protecting this important landscape and rewarding Berryessa Snow Mountain with the “star on the map” as a national monument that this place has long deserved. There will be an opportunity for the public to speak so please be ready to talk about why this area is important to you! National monuments are areas of public lands that have unique attributes that merit protection for future generations. Please help to make that a reality by attending the meeting on December 19th!

Transportation will be available from the following locations, but you must RSVP:

  • Davis – Amtrak Station, 840 Second Street
  • Winters – Community Center, 201 Railroad Avenue
  • Sacramento – Convention Center, 1400 J Street
  • Berkeley – North Berkeley BART Station, 1750 Sacramento Street

For more information and to RSVP contact: Mike Thornton, California Coastal Organizer, Sierra Club California/Our Wild America, at Michael.thornton@sierraclub.org or 916-803-5942.

Let’s protect Berryessa Snow Mountain – now and forever!

National Wilderness Conference inspires a new generation of activists

Vicky Hoover at the National Wilderness Conference.

Vicky Hoover at the National Wilderness Conference.

Enlightening. Profound. Sobering. Just a few adjectives for the National Wilderness Conference, held October 15-19, 2014, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Over 1,200 people from dozens of organizations and federal resource agencies converged on Albuquerque for the first national gathering of the wilderness community in 25 years.

The conference offered a rich array of plenary sessions, presentations, panels, exhibits, films, field trips, and skill-development workshops. Six wilderness themes were woven into every aspect of the programming: stewardship, education, history, experience, civic engagement, and science. The companion Wilderness Celebration Exhibition showcased organizational booths surrounding a “Wilderness Awareness Trail” for students. The culmination was a free-to-the-public outdoor “Get Wild” festival with music, Native American dance, kids’ stories and activities, and keynote speakers rallying to action a new and more diverse generation of wilderness advocates.

Throughout the conference, a litany of threats to the integrity and very existence of our National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) was explored. The Wilderness Act promised to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Yet, while the amount of land designated as wilderness has increased since 1964 by over ten-fold—from 9 million to nearly 110 million acres, 14% of which are in California—the wildness of those lands has not been well safeguarded. Human impacts from nearby development, population growth, climate change, and inadequate stewardship continue degrading wilderness values. Those manifold values include solitude and refuge from the sights and sounds of civilization in places where ecosystems remain undeveloped and intact, where natural processes unfold without direct human intervention.

When the Wilderness Act was signed into law, it was after years of effort building a broad public and political consensus about the “idea” of wilderness: that it is fundamental to our national character and must be protected. That consensus has eroded, even as pressures on our wild areas have increased from all sides.

Acknowledging these critical problems, leaders of the four federal agencies responsible for protecting the NWPS—the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management—ceremonially signed a “2020 Vision” document setting interagency priorities for the next five years. The major themes are to: protect wilderness resources; connect people to their wilderness heritage; and foster excellence in wilderness leadership and coordination.

Energized and renewed by our experiences, several conference attendees from the Bay Chapter are collaborating to build on the momentum to improve and expand wilderness protection. Three current wilderness proposals in our area are:

  • Central Coast Heritage Protection Act. This bill would add roughly 300,000 acres of wilderness, scenic areas, and other protections and 159 miles of wild and scenic rivers in the Los Padres National Forest and Carrizo Plain National Monument.
  • The current Forest Plan process in Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests, which could and should include Wilderness recommendations from the Forest (see “Help secure Wilderness designation for National Forest lands!” for what you can do to help).
  • Senator Diane Feinstein’s new California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act, a bill to be introduced in January when Congress reconvenes. According to the Senator’s website, “The bill builds on Feinstein’s historic California Desert Protection Act, which became law in 1994. The new legislation is designed to protect additional land and help manage California’s desert resources by carefully balancing conservation, recreation and renewable energy development.”

If you are working to mitigate climate change, encourage smart growth and effective public transportation, shift toward sustainable food and energy systems, and reduce our ecological footprint, then you are also working on behalf of wilderness. If you’d like to join the conversation and get involved more directly in wilderness advocacy work in our chapter, please contact Alan Carlton at carltonal@yahoo.com, Anne Henny at anneth16@sbcglobal.net, or Teri Shore at terishore@gmail.com.

—Anne Henny

Help secure Wilderness designation for National Forest lands!

The three National Forests in the heart of the High Sierra, Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia, are revising their Forest Plans. As a part of this process, they are required to identify and evaluate lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the wilderness system and determine whether to recommend any such land for wilderness. The ultimate determination as to whether to recommend lands for wilderness designation is made by the Forest Supervisor. The Forests may also protect lands by other special designations.

Wilderness designation is the highest form of protection the government can give to a public land. No roads, vehicles or permanent structures are allowed in designated wilderness. A wilderness designation also prohibits activities like logging or mining.

The Sierra Club and other allied groups, including the Wilderness Society, the California Wilderness Coalition, and Friends of the Inyo, have determined that certain areas in these three Forests meet the criteria of the Wilderness Act and should be recommended for wilderness designation. The final determination on wilderness will of course have to be made by Congress. Other areas should be given some other special designation.


The recommendations will be made in the near future. Please contact the Forest Supervisors in these three Forests and ask them to recommend the following areas for wilderness or to otherwise appropriately protect them in the Forest Plans. The easiest way is to copy the relevant message below and email it to the Supervisor at the provided email address. Of course, a hand-written letter might be even better!

inyoInyo National Forest:
Ed Armenta, Supervisor
351 Pacu Lane Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514-3101

I support the following Wilderness and other Special Designations in the Inyo National Forest: Wilderness, Blanco, Dexter Canyon, Excelsior, Horse Meadows, and South Sierra.

For Backcountry Management designation: Paiute, Benton Range, and Black Canyon.

For Zoological or Botanical Area designation: Soldier Canyon.

For Special Management Area designation: Coyote Plateau, Mono Craters, Mt. Olsen, and Glass Mountain.

Lake_of_the_Lone_Indian_JMWSierra National Forest
Dean Gould, Supervisor
1600 Tollhouse Rd.
Clovis, CA 93611

I support the following Wilderness and other Special Designations in the Sierra National Forest: Wilderness, Ansel Adams Additions, Cat’s Head Mountain, Devils Gulch, Dinkey Lakes Additions, Graham Mountain, John Muir Additions, Kaiser Additions, Monarch Additions, Mt. Raymond, Shuteye, Soaproot, and Sycamore Springs.

For Backcountry Management designation: Chiquito Creek, North Fork Kings River, Peckinpah Creek, and San Joaquin River.

Sequoia National Forest
Kevin Elliot, Supervisor
1839 South Newcomb Street
Porterville, CA 93257

I support the following Wilderness and other Special Designations in the Sequoia National Forest: Wilderness, Lucas Creek, Lightner Peak, Mill Creek, Oat Mountain, Cannell, Chico, Bright Star Additions, South Sierra Additions, Golden Trout Additions, and Domeland Addition.

For Backcountry Management designation: Saturday Peak, Sunday Peak, and Lumreau Creek.

On the brink: is it too late to save the salmon of Redwood Creek in Muir Woods?


Photo of Redwood Creek via Flickr Creative Commons, www.flickr.com/giofusco.

The federal government is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to save the endangered coho salmon, but the Sierra Club is concerned that these efforts are ignoring the real source of contamination—and meanwhile, our salmon are inching closer to extinction.

In Marin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) collected comprehensive scientific research on our two most significant spawning grounds, Lagunitas Creek in the San Geronimo Valley and Redwood Creek, which traverses Muir Woods to reach Muir Beach and the Pacific Ocean (you can find the full text of NOAA’s “Recovery Plan for the Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Central Coast Coho Salmon” online here). As part of the habitat restoration effort, 15 million dollars was spent to restore Big Lagoon and Muir Beach. Yet these efforts did not save the latest generation of coho.

Thirteen adult spawners were counted this year but apparently none of the hatched fry from five observed nests survived. Scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirm that for the first time in Redwood Creek’s recorded history, the local extinction of this year’s coho has occurred.

Earlier generations, now 18 months and three years old, are in deep trouble too. In August, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service “rescued” the remaining coho in Redwood Creek and Mount Tamalpais State Park. They found no babies, instead transporting the 105 smolt-sized fish that failed to migrate out to sea to the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery in Sonoma. Although some of the smolt found this year may survive to spawn, the trajectory is not looking good.  Scientists warn of an “extinction vortex” for coho. A recovery threshold of 272 fish is the minimum indicated for Redwood Creek in the NOAA Fisheries Coho Recovery Plan.

All this begs the question: What happened to the coho young this year?

Though the National Park Service and other agencies have spent over 15 million dollars on habitat restoration, they have failed to test the water in Redwood Creek for contaminants. Every year, an estimated one million visitors and several-hundred thousand vehicles use the road that runs alongside Redwood Creek, leading to Muir Woods. Along a four-mile stretch of that road, 15 of 43 culverts deliver contaminated storm water directly into the creek. Road runoff is a well-documented source of toxins in creeks, and water contamination could be a significant factor in the coho’s plight.

Car brake pads emit copper, a known neurotoxin. Government scientists have concluded that low levels of copper found in waterways harm sense of smell in young coho salmon, reducing their ability to avoid predators and confusing migration and spawning ability. Copper tests cost only 10 dollars.

Moreover, a 2013 study from NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Washington linked unidentified compounds in highway runoff to coho salmon death. In that study, toxic chemicals that washed into creeks in the rush of stormwater after a rainfall were found to be killing adult salmon before they could spawn.

coho salmon graph

Chart compiled by Laura Chariton.

According to a regional water board spokesperson, parking alongside Redwood Creek should not be allowed because of the known vehicle contaminants. Yet on any given day a mile-long queue of parked cars lines the county-owned road along the creek. The National Park Service has suggested adding a valet service and online registration system, which would only exacerbate the problem.

Many believe our government and agencies have failed in their responsibility to protect our salmon, favoring visitors over natural resources. This is an occasion for the County of Marin to step forward and do what the federal and state agencies are apparently incapable of doing; the county must follow up on the billions of dollars spent on plans and research and take active steps to save these fish. Marin County owns the roads and must manage them. If we want Muir Woods to continue in harmony with the legacy upon which it was founded, then we need to save its native wildlife from extinction.

The solution: give Muir Woods a break from individual cars. Clean the water and restrict use until we can begin to recover the two remaining coho populations that are on the brink.

—Laura Chariton

Read more about coho salmon in Marin in “Marin Supervisors pass toothless streamside ordinance–will our salmon survive politics?“.

Correction: an earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that 1.4 million visitors and 350,000 vehicles use the road that runs alongside Redwood Creek leading to Muir Woods. These figures are actually one million and several hundred thousand, respectively.