Muir Woods Salmon Enhancement Project

Muir Woods Salmon Enhancement Project



For years the National Park Service has worked to preserve the giant Coast Redwoods in Muir Woods National Monument. However, accompanying these gentle giants is necessary habitat that provides home to a wide range of wildlife. While significant steps have been taken to protect the quintessential redwoods, several steps must be taken to restore and enhance the surrounding habitat to fulfill a healthy, diverse ecosystem.


Project Pins



With Redwood Creek flowing through Muir Woods, there is an opportunity to improve the stream’s ability to support several freshwater species, such as the endangered (ESA-listed) coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). With a three-year life cycle, coho rely on Redwood Creek and surrounding streams to live out their first year as a fry. Furthermore, these anadromous fish rely on this area as essential habitat as they return to spawn in the winter. 


According to fish biologist Michael Reichmuth, despite a high percentage of returning spawning adults, the area yields a relatively small number of juveniles. For juvenile coho to grow up and eventually make it to the ocean, they require sufficient large woody debris, deep pools, and bends within the river. Therefore, significant efforts have been made to improve these areas that act as a stronghold for these vital, yet endangered species. 

Holding California giant salamanders

Project Logistics


This project, led by Carolyn Shoulders, started its first phase in 2019 with restoration occurring in the upstream area. Phase 2 of the project works to improve overall freshwater species diversity along various stretches of Redwood Creek. Such a project involves the removal of riprap from stream banks along with the addition of small/large woody debris. These features provide differences in flow velocity and undercuts in the banks that act as shelter from predation or refuge during the heat of the day. Woody debris provides areas to scour to form deep pools with some sort of canopy cover for coho to take shelter in. 

With significant construction within critical habitat, this project requires collaboration between Point Reyes National Seashore’s fisheries crew and natural resource specialists from Golden Gate National Recreation Area. As part of the fisheries crew, we worked closely with the de-watering effort that required relocation of several freshwater species such as California giant salamanders (Dicamptodon ensatus), coho salmon, steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and sculpin (Cottoidea). Prior to de-watering we electrofished and seined the area to remove as many salmonids as possible. Throughout the de-watering process, we continuously scanned and electrofished the area to remove any remaining organisms. 

Despite my brief involvement with this project, I am quite excited to see the progression throughout the next couple months. Along with this project being important for salmonid habitat restoration, it is an excellent opportunity for community engagement and education. With nearly 4,000 visitors per day, Muir Woods offers a diverse audience an opportunity to learn more about salmonids and the conservation efforts tied to them. 

De-Watered Mid-Channel Pool
Relocating Salmonids
4 Larval California giant salamanders
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