Coastal Creek Restoration
Salmon complete a connection between land and sea when they die. Salmon transport nutrients from the ocean such as carbon, phosphorous, and nitrogen to the headwaters where they spawn. These elements replenish streambeds, spur algal growth, and fortify aquatic and riparian foodwebs from aquatic insects to wildlife. In some cases, the headwaters where salmon spawn can extend 30 miles from the ocean and would not otherwise contain these essential nutrients without these creatures returning to spawn.
Coastal Creeks and Redwood Forests - Where the Magic Happens
Steelhead and coho are the "canary in the coalmine" for California's coastal watersheds.
They rely upon the entire ecosystem; the estuary for acclimation to saltwater; main stream channels for migration; and their natal tributary streams for spawning and rearing.
Redwood forests provide ideal salmon habitat, providing woody debris to protect young salmon in the creeks and keeping them shaded and cool.
Decomposer of the redwood forest, the native banana slug is the unsung hero of the redwood forest. A garbage-man of sorts - turning the organic matter they eat into nutrients that fertilize the soil. These large slugs aid redwood trees by consuming the seedlings of surrounding plants. Instead of competitors, the banana slug clears them out and leaves behind nutrient rich droppings to aid the redwoods growth.
Whether getting inside the trees or absorbing leaf litter, fungi play an important role as a decomposer and help the forest recycle nutrients. Some fungi act as parasites ultimately killing their host. If this happens to a redwood, it becomes a snag. The resulting dead tree serves an important role as habitat for a variety of birds, rodents, and insects.
A stand of red alders grows outside the shadow of the redwoods.