Conclusion

The Redwood Creek estuary/lagoon plays a vital role as habitat for juvenile and adult anadromous salmonids. The estuary/lagoon once had all of the characteristics of excellent anadromous salmonid habitat, but its present value as fisheries habitat is greatly reduced compared to the historic condition. Over the past 125 years, the estuary area was altered by conversion of forest, riparian and wetland areas to pasture land, and by channel modifications and levee construction. These changes combined with sediment accumulations have impaired the physical and biologic function and capacity of the estuary/lagoon to support salmonids. The present estuary condition limits salmonid production.

The Redwood Creek estuary is an excellent candidate area for channel and riparian improvement projects that benefit for anadromous salmonids. RNSP and others have developed management alternatives to improve the estuarine habitat while offering flood control protection to the town of Orick and pasturelands surround the estuary. The recent project alternatives involve levee removal, relocation, and re-configuration. A restoration project should benefit fish production by increasing the depth and area of the lower embayment while increasing depth, shelter, connectivity, and circulation between the main channel and slough channels. Projects that increase the estuary/lagoon’s juvenile salmonid carrying capacity and survival rate during the summer months should receive high priority. Restoration efforts that move conditions and processes towards historic status also will benefit other fish and wildlife resources of Redwood Creek.