Grape Creek

In 2012 Grape Creek was selected as one of NFHP’s annual list of 10 Waters to Watch. Read more here

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: 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 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.

 Partners: 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