SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (CN) – Marin County’s plan to allow more development in the San Geronimo watershed will harm threatened Coho salmon and steelhead treat by damaging the streams they use for spawning and migration, a fish advocacy group says.
The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN, claims Marin County failed to consider the full environmental impact of its 2007 general plan update affecting the San Geronimo watershed, a critical habitat for Coho salmon.
The San Geronimo watershed is part of the Lagunitas watershed, which has one of the largest populations of wild Coho salmon in California, according to SPAWN.
This area is one of last undammed habitat zones supporting the endangered salmon species in their lifecycle of migrating upstream to spawn, SPAWN claims.
In its draft environmental review, the county allegedly acknowledged that of the almost 5,400 houses slated for development, nearly 13 percent would affect special-status species.
While the 1994 general plan protected stream areas, the 2007 update allows for more exceptions to this conservation, the fish group claims. The update also reduces protection for ephemeral streams, or areas where water flows for only part of the year, and allows for greater soil and vegetation disturbance, SPAWN says.
The final impact report stated that any harm to the Coho salmon and steelhead will be “insignificant” due the county’s participation in a fish protection program called FishNet4C.
SPAWN says the county based its finding of no cumulative impact on “future, undefined mitigation measures lacking any enforceable performance standards.”
This allegedly violates the California Environmental Quality Act.
Represented by Michael Graf of the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, SPAWN wants the court to set aside the county’s impact findings and block the approval of development projects within the San Geronimo watershed.