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Marin Water secures $4.6M state grant for restoration of Lagunitas Creek

A coho salmon emerges from a clear, shallow, fast-moving creek.

Nov. 8, 2023

Corte Madera – The Marin Water Board of Directors on Tuesday accepted a $4.6 million California Department of Fish and Wildlife grant that will provide significant support to the District’s efforts to protect endangered coho salmon populations in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.

Awarded through the state’s Watershed Restoration Grants Program, which encompasses climate change impacts, drought resiliency, wetlands protection and more, this grant represents a major milestone for Marin Water’s Lagunitas Creek Habitat Restoration Project, enabling work on improved spawning habitat to begin in the summer of 2024.

“We’re thankful to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for their support with this important project,” said Monty Schmitt, Marin Water Board of Directors president. “This is a unique opportunity to build on the successes of our fisheries restoration program, and to ensure the health of Lagunitas Creek and the Mt. Tam Watershed.”

Since 1981, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has awarded funding through its Watershed Restoration Grants Program to address urgent degrading water and habitat conditions due to climate change impacts, among other environmental conditions. This year, the program made $200 million available to support plans for restoration, protection and enhancement of critical watershed habitats, as well as projects that address climate-related impacts and drought resiliency.

The first phase of the Lagunitas Creek Habitat Restoration Project – Lagunitas Creek Coho Enhancement – will improve spawning habitat in key portions of the 83-square-mile watershed, which stands as the largest remaining Northern California habitat for the protected salmon species. The grant allows Marin Water to install habitat structures – such as anchored logs and spawning gravel – at six sites downstream of Peters Dam on Kent Lake. The $4.6 million award will also provide construction management and monitoring support, while funding a limited-term Natural Resources Technician position within the Marin Water Fisheries Department to support compliance monitoring requirements associated with the project.

Along with this $4.6 million grant award, Marin Water has received more than $6.6 million in state and federal funding to support Lagunitas Creek Habitat Restoration Project, which includes 13 restoration sites comprising nearly a mile of channel improvements via the placement of 278 logs and more than 12 tons of gravel below Peters Dam. Meant to mimic natural habitats, this multi-year project promises to enhance an important coldwater spawning and rearing site for key protected species, such as endangered coho salmon, and protected steelhead trout and California freshwater shrimp.

These critical habitats have been reduced over time in part due to a series of dams erected to secure local water supplies. Through its stewardship of the watershed, and in compliance with state water rules developed in 1995, Marin Water has a duty to take care of the protected and endangered aquatic species within Lagunitas Creek. Learn more about Marin Water’s fisheries work at

As part of a commitment to reducing impacts on local ratepayers to the largest extent possible, Marin Water works continuously to secure outside funding for District projects. Since 2020, Marin Water has secured more than $27 million in outside grants to help support the work needed to ensure delivery of clean drinking water to the District’s 191,000 central and southern Marin County customers.

Photo featured at top by Martha E. Ture