Willow Creek Watershed
Fire Recovery Update (1/16/21):
Both Armstrong Redwoods SNR and Austin Creek SRA will be closed until sometime in 2021. We hope parts of Armstrong might be opened to docent guided fire walks in late spring but this timeframe is not confirmed. Please sign up to receive our enewsletter (at the top of webpage) to learn how you can volunteer for restoration activities in the months ahead.
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve started burning on the forest floor on the afternoon of 8/24/20. The fire slowly burned through
the grove and did not affect structures or iconic trees. State Parks, CalFire, and local firefighters worked together to make the best possible
decisions with respect to managing the fire for the park and the local community.
We thank them for their expertise and dedication.
Stewards' staff and State Park Volunteers are at work removing and processing down trees into firewood, restoring campsites and will soon be working on rebuilding burned fencing. Trails and hazardous conditions are also being assessed by State Parks. If you are interested in Volunteering follow the instructions on THIS PAGE of our website.
(day-use fees, camping fees, visitor center sales).
A SPECIAL FUND HAS BEEN SET UP FOR FIRE RECOVERY DONATIONS
While fires help forests to Renew • Revive • Regenerate,
Stewards needs YOUR HELP to welcome you back safely into your STATE PARKS!
Thank you so very much for your support!\
Willow Creek is a tributary to the lower Russian River in coastal Sonoma County. The Willow Creek watershed drains an area of approximately 8.7 square miles, nearly all of which is owned and managed by State Parks as part of Sonoma Coast State Park. The lower Willow Creek valley within the park contains significant, undeveloped wetland and riparian habitats. The upper watershed is primarily forested land, with intermixed grasslands.
In 2001, Stewards joined with many agency and nonprofit partners to embark on a ten year journey to restore the Willow Creek watershed. At that time, approximately 4,600 feet upstream from its confluence with the Russian River, Willow Creek was filled in with sediment. In certain segments of the creek, no bed or banks remained. These conditions limited the upstream migration of spawning salmonids to periods when the valley was flooded. Downstream migration of juveniles in spring was blocked.
The filled channel condition of Willow Creek upstream of the second bridge was attributed to channel modifications that were begun before 1953, as well as increased sediment yield from land use practices in the watershed. Prior to 1953, Willow Creek was relocated, straightened, and probably widened, apparently to facilitate agriculture. Such channel modifications often create a condition that traps sediment as is illustrated by the fact that unmodified reaches of Willow Creek upstream and downstream are not filled with sediment to the same degree. The increased sediment yield from the watershed is attributed to road construction, timber harvesting, and livestock grazing beginning before 1900. Sediment supply derived from landslides and surface erosion has decreased since the 1960s.
In 2011, a new 43 foot span bridge was installed near 2nd Bridge. This successful endeavor has re-established fish passage in the watershed.