Creek Restoration

Green Gulch Creek Restoration

Green Gulch Creek runs the length of Green Gulch, and is the closest tributary of Redwood Creek to the Pacific Ocean.  In the winter of 2004/2005 Coho Salmon were spotted in the portion of the creek adjacent to the “farm shed,” in Green Gulch’s “second field.”  The following year one thousand baby Cohos were counted, by wildlife biologist Darren Fong (the product of one spawning pair).  This discovery galvanized the Green Gulch community to put resources into restoring the creek.  With generous support from the Marin Community Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Green Gulch hired and partnered with the environmental restoration firm, Prunuske Chatham Inc., to design an enhanced creek habitat the length of the farm and garden (up to the “Zendo Pond,” at this point an insurmountable fish barrier), which will restore native riparian habitat for many species, widen floodplain, and provide refuge for juvenile Coho Salmon.

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Full Restoration Plan of Green Gulch Creek (meander phase at bottom left)

Click here to watch a short video about this project.

In 2014, with grants from The NOAA Fisheries Program, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the County of Marin, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA), and many generous donors to Zen Center, we began phase 1 of the design (which began in the fall of 3013 with the building of a new road): a large meander in one of Green Gulch’s bottom fields, including a new emergency vehicle and pedestrian bridge which will accommodate hundred year storm flows.

In 2015 completed this phase by creating a new above ground channel to deliver water and much needed spawning gravels from Spring Valley creek directly to Green Gulch creek (it currently empties into one of Green Gulch Farm’s irrigation ponds, starving the creek of sediment and gravel).  We were able to do this work thanks to our many generous donors and environmental mitigation funds included in a Caltrans highway project, administered by the California Natural Resources Agency through the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP).

The benchmarks for this phase of the project included:

  • Installing 4000 native plants.  Mixture of sedges, rushes, ferns, shrubs, and trees.
  • Creating 700 linear feet of meandering natural channel to replace 450 feet of narrow straightened channel
  • Creating 1.5 acre of floodplain wetland and riparian habitat
  • Installing 30 redwood logs and 37 redwood rootwads to create instream summer rearing and winter refugia habitat for coho salmon and steelhead trout
  • Installing at least 350 linear feet of biotechnical bank stabilization, including brush mattresses, willow wattles, and fabric reinforced earth fills.
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Planting Plan for the meander reach, completed in December of 2014

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Planting Plan for the “Spring Valley Bypass” channel through the upper Green Gulch gardens

The new Spring Valley Creek channel through the upper garden, in March 2016

The new Spring Valley Creek channel through the upper garden, in March 2016

The Green Gulch Creek restoration has cost over $1.75 million dollars to date.  We continue to work on restoring Green Gulch creek, most recently by seeking grant funding for a study to analyze our water use and identify short and long-term strategies for water conservation and alternative storage that will support our ongoing organic farming operation as well as ensure more  dry season in-stream flow to Green Gulch Creek.  If you would like to join the many generous Sangha members and public and private entities that are supporting this project for the benefit of both the human and the more-than-human world, please contact Sara Tashker, the Green Gulch Farm Director ( or 415-354-0422) or the San Francisco Zen Center development department ( or 415-354-0354).










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