Dead redwoods create safe habitat for salmon

Two dead redwood trees that endangered passing motorists are now helping salmon habitat restoration efforts in Marin County.

The trees, 168 and 184 feet tall, were only a couple feet from Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near Shafter Bridge in Samuel P. Taylor State Park, according to the Marin County Department of Public Works.

Instead of chopping down the trees for timber, they were cut on Tuesday and guided with a pull line to strategically fall into Lagunitas Creek, according to DPW deputy director Michael Frost.

The creek on the western edge of the San Geronimo Valley is a major fish passage and spawning area for endangered coho salmon whose population has dropped 95 percent since the 1950s, according to the Department of Public Works.

The strategic placement of the trees will allow the water current around them to collect in deep pools that stay cool even in summer where the temperature-sensitive salmon can survive.

The redwood logs also capture additional wood and branches in the current that will protect the fish from predators.

The habitat restoration project was a collaboration by the Department of Public Works, the Marin Municipal Water District and California State Parks.

Marin Municipal Water District aquatic ecologist Eric Ettlinger said it is rare for redwoods to fall into Lagunitas Creek:

“It’s great the county was able to make this happen.”