Wildlife Habitat

Atascadero Creek Subwatershed Habitat Study

The Gold Ridge RCD is seeking the partnership of landowners to assist in a study of the Atascadero Creek subwatershed. This creek has become the focus of our study because of its potential to provide excellent habitat for the endangered coho salmon.

If you are a landowner who wants to allow us to access the creek where it runs through your property, please review, fill and sign the Landowner Access Agreement.


Public Meeting

We hosted our first public meeting about this study on November 6, 2019 at Apple Blossom Elementary School. See the presentations from that meeting here >>


How Neighbors Can Help

Our partnership with the residents along Atascadero Creek is essential to the success of the study.

Neighbors can help by:

1) Offering their stories about the way the creek has changed over the years, and

2) Offering access to the creek where it runs through their property for our scientific study by submitting a signed Landowner Access Agreement.

3) Sharing information about this study with their neighbors who also live on the creek. Share the letter we mailed out to your neighborhood.

Our goal is to learn:

Creekside landowners will be receiving letters in the mail from us describing the study and requesting access to the reach of creek that runs through their property. This includes landowners along Atascadero Creek and its tributaries: Redwood Creek, Sexton Creek, Jonive Creek, and Pitkin (also called Sullivan) Creek. Are you in the watershed? See the map at lower right, and click to enlarge.

1) If you would like to provide us with your stories about how the creek has changed over the years, please email Sierra Cantor with a short description of your story:

2) If you are a landowner who wants to allow us to access the creek where it runs through your property, please review, fill and sign the Landowner Access Agreement.


About the Creek

Atascadero Creek is part of the Russian River watershed. It flows north from Sebastopol to Forestville where it meets with Green Valley Creek, then Green Valley Creek flows to the Russian River. It neighbors the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed, but is not connected. Atascadero Creek has four major streams that drain into it: Redwood Creek, Jonive Creek, Sexton Creek and Pitkin (also called Sullivan) Creek. See the subwatershed map at right. From the modest information we have about the watershed, we know that Atascadero Creek watershed is a complex and diverse system. In parts (particularly the upper reaches) the waterways are creek-like with defined channels and year-round flow, fed by rainfall and springs. In other parts (particularly in the lower reaches), the waterways become dense and marsh-like with less defined creek channels and at times no water flowing on the surface.

The stream that Atascadero flows into, Green Valley Creek, has been identified as critical and restorable habitat for the endangered Central California Coast coho salmon, and it regularly supports the Russian’s most robust wild coho population. Despite anecdotal evidence of coho being historically present, they haven’t been observed in recent surveys. Local landowners have memories of finding coho back in the old days, and historians hold that the creek has been used by coho in the past. In the winters of 2017 and 2018, federal partners in conservation released juvenile coho salmon to the upper reaches of the creek in the hopes that the fish would survive and establish a viable population in the stream.


About the Study

The Gold Ridge RCD received a grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to attempt to answer some questions about the unique characteristics of the Atascadero Creek watershed, for example:

To that end, we are seeking the following information:

Gold Ridge RCD and the consulting hydrologists from O’Connor Environmental, Inc. (OEI), the Research Team, are requesting access on the Landowner Access Agreement. You may have been contacted for access by other organizations as well. Here’s a quick description of the various roles of organizations currently collaborating on studying the Atascadero watershed:


Request for Access to Creek

Gold Ridge RCD staff humbly request to partner with the landowners along the Atascadero Creek and its tributaries in order to study the watershed. Participating landowners provide the Research Team with access to the creek through their private property. Landowners contract with the RCD through a Landowner Access Agreement. The Research Team will strictly follow the instructions provided by the landowner in the Landowner Access Agreement (LAA) regarding entrance to the property and access to the creek. No party in the Research Team will enforce any regulations. If for any reason a landowner prefers to exclude any members of the Research Team from accessing their property, they can indicate their preference on the LAA.

Different types of monitoring activities will occur seasonally. Types of activities we plan to do as part of this study include:

We will always contact you before making field visits. See the Landowner Access Agreement for more details. 


Community Engagement

This project requires broad engagement of local landowners to be a success. We plan to reach out to the community through multiple avenues:


How Information Will Be Used

When the study is done, we will share broad information that we have gathered (NOTE: we will not share ANY sensitive, specific or detailed information about your property) to the community. We will then use that information to inform our future efforts in the watershed. Examples of projects that might result from the study: assisting landowners in enhancing the habitat around their portion of creek, assisting landowners in developing alternative water sourcing projects, assisting landowners in managing stormwater, and other project types. We will know better after the study what kind of projects are most appropriate. As always, we operate solely through voluntary partnership on conservation projects with landowners. We do not enforce any actions.


Want to learn more?

If you have questions, comments or concerns about the study, contact Sierra Cantor, Ecologist and Project Lead, to learn more. She can be reached at (707) 823-5244 or  

Neighborhood groups may invite Sierra Cantor to give a presentation at a neighborhood meeting/potluck/event.


Ready to participate?

If you are a landowner located on the Atascadero Creek or its tributaries (see map at top right) and you are ready to participate in the study, review the Landowner Access Agreement and submit the form to the Gold Ridge RCD.



Sierra Cantor

Ecologist, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

(707) 823-5244 |  

Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

2776 Sullivan Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472

(707) 823-5244 |


© 2016 GRRCD 2776 Sullivan Rd., Sebastopol, CA 95472. All rights reserved.