Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: California
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

California Project

Prairie Creek Sub-Basin Life Cycle Monitoring Project

June 2008 - March 2012


Participating Agencies

  • California Department of Fish and Game

The Prairie Creek sub-basin of Redwood Creek supports self-sustaining populations of coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout in addition to occasional chum salmon. It was recognized as an excellent "field laboratory" for the study of andromous salmonids in California by the Coastal Watershed Planning and Assessment Program (Cannata et al. 2006). Studies of fisheries in the Prairie Creek sub-basin began in the 1940's (Hallock 1952, Brigss 1953) and extend to the present (Duffy and Bjorkstedt 2007). Nearly continuous estimates of adult salmon returning to Prairie Creek have been made since 1990 while estimates of juvenile abundance and smolt production have been made each year since 1998. The Prairie Creek sub-basin may be considered as a life cycle monitoring station in the California Anadromous Salmonid Monitoring Plan for several reasons. First, it supports self sustaining populations of coho and Chinook salmon, steehead and coastal cutthroat trout. Second, stream habitats in the sub-basin are relatively undisturbed, although portions of the basin flow through park lands representative of northern California coastal streams and land use will not likely change in the future. Three primary tasks this project will continue are monitoring to estimate the annual abundance of: (1) Adult coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steehead and coastal cutthroat trout. (2) Juvenile coho salmon, ssteelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. (3) Migrating coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat smolts as well as pre-smolting Chinook salmon. (4) Write report analyzing trends in salmonid abundance and survival in Prairie Creek over the previous decade.