Wildlife

Wildlife

Gold Ridge RCD engages in wildlife habitat enhancement as an additional benefit when restoring natural resources. The Gold Ridge RCD collaborates with and educates partners and landowners throughout the district to restore and enhance habitat for native wildlife, including riparian & wetland habitat restoration, instream improvements, and promotion of on-farm biodiversity. The RCD spearheads a wide range of activities, including expansion of riparian corridors, improvement of instream salmonid habitat, and enhancement of agricultural lands to better support pollinators.

Ways we will implement wildlife enhancement include:

  • Plan and implement conservation projects aimed at improving water quality throughout our district for wildlife and people.
  • Provide information, training in practical skills, and opportunities to participate in projects that help enhance water quality, prevent nonpoint source pollution, and protect aquatic ecosystems.
  • Assist all water users access to clean and sufficient water

The ultimate goal of our wildlife programs is to enhance and restore habitat function for all terrestrial and instream species. Our programs below focus on special status species that have been listed as threatened or endangered at the state or federal level. Even though these species are targeted because they face a greater risk of habitat loss and population decline, our programs are meant to restore habitat function to benefit all wildlife. While our programs are aimed at the recovery of these especially vulnerable and endangered species, we also want to prevent other organisms from becoming threatened or endangered through habitat enhancement.

Frequently served: Farmers, ranchers, rural landowners

Our pollinator habitat programs aim to enhance pollinator habitat on working lands, including farms, orchards, vineyards, and ranches.  Hedgerows are long rows of trees, shrubs, flowers, or grasses that act as living fences, providing working lands with natural barriers and wildlife habitat. Hedgerows can enhance nectar, pollen, nesting habitat for pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies.

Plantings are specifically designed to provide nesting habitat and year-round pollen and nectar sources for both native bee species and honeybees, while also supporting other pollinator species such as hummingbirds and bats. Native bees have diverse habitat needs, as many are ground nesters, cavity nesters, or stem borers. This necessitates that plans incorporate species beyond simply flowering plants, including rushes, sedges, or woody species known to house cavity nesters. Plantings should also take into account flower shapes, colors, and bloom times.

Project Examples:

Insectaries for Pollinators and Farm Biodiversity: An Innovative Pilot Project

Ways to Participate:

The Gold Ridge RCD is currently seeking additional funding to continue the pollinator program, and is soliciting EQIP-eligible landowners for participation in the next round of plantings.

  • Example: Solicitation for EQIP-eligible landowners for participation in the next round of plantings (PDF)

Resources: 

Learn more about Pollinators and  Enhancing Pollinator Habitat here.

Program Description: 

Monarchs are one of the most widely known and beloved butterfly species for their beautiful orange wings and majestic winter migration. Monarchs are important pollinators and essential to the natural ecosystem. In recent years, however, monarch populations have sharply declined due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and parasitism. Milkweed, the host plant for monarch butterflies, was largely removed from where it grows naturally in California due to human activity. Monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed and monarch caterpillars solely eat milkweed, so planting and distributing milkweed is the most important component to monarch restoration. Gold Ridge has supplied and delivered thousands of narrowleaf milkweed plants across the North Bay region. We supply milkweed for farms, school gardens, and public lands. The Gold Ridge RCD has also participated in other conservation efforts such as overwintering site management and monarch monitoring.

Project Examples: 

You can see our where we have delivered milkweed here:

Monarch Habitat Map

Monarch Habitat Map

Ways to Participate:

Contact your local native plant nursery for regionally native milkweed and nectar plants. Remember, if you live within 5 miles of the coast, it is not recommended to plant milkweed here, so we highly recommend planting native nectar plants and flowers here instead!

Resources: 

Learn more about Pollinators and  Enhancing Pollinator Habitat here.

Virtually all of the Gold Ridge RCD watersheds have anadromous, salmonid fish species, primarily coho salmon and steelhead trout. Salmonids are culturally and ecologically valuable species, as a major food source for humans throughout human history, and as indicators of ecosystem health; they are a keystone member of this community.

Historically, salmonid habitat has been dramatically impacted by forestry, agriculture and urban development. Roads, dams, diversions, deforestation, mining, dredging, grazing, and regrading have all directly changed the face of our district’s salmon-bearing streams in the last 200 years. Impacts that impair fish habitat include loss of water, sedimentation and crowding of spawning gravel, simplification and incising of stream channels, nutrient loading from livestock and urban development, loss of riparian forest, and barriers to fish passage.

Salmonid Habitat Enhancement is one of the main goals for the majority of our water and watershed programs. Many of our water-specific programs are geared towards addressing salmonid habitat loss and endangerment either directly (such as through our Instream Flow Enhancement Program or our Water Quality Monitoring) or indirectly (through our Rainwater Catchment Programs). Projects such as Gully Restoration, Erosion and Sediment Control, Nutrient Management, Water Use Efficiency, streamflow enhancement, Alternative Water Sourcing and Storage all contribute to salmonid habitat. Read more about our water programs here, and read more about our district watersheds here.

Areas of Work:

Removal of Fish Passage Barriers: Salmon and other migrating fish need access to freshwater habitat for spawning and rearing. In some cases, these fish need to swim thousands of miles through the oceans and rivers to reach their destination, but they are often blocked from completing their journey by man-made barriers, such as dams and culverts. These barriers can be replaced with full span bridges or other crossings and will hopefully lead to an increase in our fish populations, returning them to levels we haven’t seen in the last few decades but hope to see again.

Project Examples:

Construction of Winter Off-Channel Habitat Refugia for Juvenile Salmonids: Projects provide the structurally complex habitat needed by juvenile salmon to survive and thrive during winter high flows–called “refugia”—habitat that once was provided by seasonally inundated, floodplain wetlands. Side channels and wetland complexes are constructed to connect the floodplain at lower (safer) flows; this off-channel habitat provides winter rearing and high flow refugia habitat for juvenile salmonids that would otherwise be swept away in high flows. Read more and see a video of the off-channel winter refugia habitat created on Green Valley Creek in 2015.

Project Examples:

Installation of Large Woody Debris in Stream Channel: Large wood logs, root wads, and boulders improve existing and create new fish habitat in degraded streams by providing cover, controlling sediment, adding complexity to the channel, and restoring spawning and rearing habitat.

Project Examples:

Livestock Fencing: Wildlife-friendly fencing placed around streams excludes livestock from entering the riparian corridor and eroding stream banks.

Project Example:

Resources: 

Learn more about Enhancing Salmonid Habitat here.