Grape Creek (10 Waters to Watch in 2013)

Russian River Watershed


Grape Creek is a tributary to Dry Creek, a major tributary to the Russian River in Sonoma County, CA. The Russian River Valley watershed is NOAA’s first Habitat Focus Area as part of the agency-wide Habitat Blueprint effort. Habitat Focus Areas are places where NOAA anticipates pooling its resources and expertise to maximize the conservation of important habitat. Water and Wine is a partnership with grape growers in Northern California to enhance instream flows and salmonid habitat and fulfill agricultural water demands in Wine Country. It focuses on water supply solutions, stream restoration and public awareness. Launched in 2008, the program currently includes 20 wineries, ranches, vineyards, coalitions, commissions, and nonprofit organizations. 

Location: The latitude/longitude of the Upper Grape Creek Project (a component of the Water and Wine Watershed Stewardship Program) is 38.656 N, -122.96 W.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to improve streamflow for steelhead trout and coho salmon in Grape Creek (and its tributary, Wine Creek) in Northern California Wine Country and to pilot a similar approach in other watersheds in coastal California (termed the Coastal Streamflow Stewardship Project). The approach is now being used in the Mattole River in Humboldt County, in the Russian River and its tributaries in Sonoma County (Grape Creek, Mill Creek, Mark West Creek, Dutch Bill Creek, and Green Valley Creek – through the Coho Water Resources Partnership), in Pescadero and San Gregorio creeks in San Mateo County, in Little Arthur Creek in Santa Clara County (Pajaro River watershed), and in Chorro Creek in San Luis Obispo County.


Work performed: Increase dry season streamflow by developing projects that meet landowner water needs by either reducing (e.g., through efficiency improvements or frost fans) or shifting the demand for water (e.g., through winter storage of water for use later in the season). The dry season, from May through October, is the period when water needs are highest for residential, industrial, and agricultural uses alike, yet this period is marked by progressively lower streamflow until rain begins again in the fall.


Benefits: Through the project, we obtained information about existing water need and demand, fisheries resources, streamflow, the relationship between flow and habitat, and water rights to understand whether the approach would be both beneficial (i.e., water can be taken in the winter without impacts to fish or injury to other water users and that the projects will result in summer flow benefits) and feasible (i.e., from landowner, permitting, and engineering perspectives) in each watershed. We completed Streamflow Improvement Plans for each watershed, which summarized the results of our monitoring efforts and recommended priority actions and projects to improve instream flow.



The Upper Grape Creek Project was completed in the fall/winter of 2012. Streamflow and fisheries monitoring efforts and streamflow improvement project development are ongoing.



Dean Witter Foundation

G. Mazzera Company

Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

Martorana Family Winery

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Natural Resource Conservation Service

Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s WATER Institute

Quivira Vineyards and Winery

Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund

S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Sonoma County Water Agency

Sotoyome Resource Conservation District

Storesund Consulting

Trout Unlimited

U.C. Cooperative Extension/California Sea Grant

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Weed Farms

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wine Creek Ranch

And many other landowners adjacent to Grape and Wine creeks


Trout magazine article on Grape Creek

June 2013 Field Tour of Grape Creek

Grape Creek Field Tour

Grape Creek field tour