Habitat Restoration at Muir Beach with Mackintosh Academy

Redwood Creek Watershed meets the Pacific Ocean at Muir Beach. The creek has been modified along its length and researchers have determined that habitat quality has declined along with these modifications. Parks staff and a host of volunteers are working to restore Redwood Creek so that it provides habitat. Endangered Coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout use the creek for spawning. Juvenile fish spend their first year in the creek hiding among fallen logs, but annual floods threaten to wash them out to sea before they’re ready.

Learning about how to plant spike rush along the water's edge.

The red-legged frog is another threatened species that calls Redwood Creek Watershed home. This amphibian is the largest native frog west of the Mississippi. Its cryptic coloration and ability to remain perfectly still make it difficult to spot among native vegetation. A survey in 2008 was the last one with a record of an adult in the watershed. In 2009, a frog pond was excavated near Muir Beach for the red-legged frog.

Today, we helped the restoration process by planting native spike rush (Eleocharis macrostachya). Frogs lay their eggs on leaves of spike rush and plant roots provide a place to hide.

Bob “Flash” Flasher gave us three agenda items when we got started:

  1. plant something new,
  2. get muddy, and
  3. have fun!
Hard at work....

The group’s enthusiasm was contagious and we were able to line the pond’s edge with spike rush in record time. After planting, we moved on to the removal of creeping bentgrass, an invasive non-native species that out-competes native species for moisture. Even though we were only working in Redwood Creek Watershed for three hours, our volunteer efforts will positively impact an array of species for generations to come.