Home is the Lower RiverAfter traveling south for over 80 miles, the Russian River makes a sharp right turn at Forestville and heads west for about 25 miles where it flows into the ocean at the town of Jenner. Mark West Creek and Laguna de Santa Rosa are major watersheds that converge with the Russian River at the river bend.
The ambiance of the lower Russian River has changed relatively little in the last forty years. Visitors come here from all over the world to experience our paradise. The waterway is thickly lined with giant redwoods for most of its westerly course, and summer cabins are hidden on hillsides, riverbanks, and in deep interior canyons. About two thirds of the former cabins have been converted to full time use over the last 25 years.
The Russian River used to be one of the three greatest Steelhead fisheries on the North Coast. Fishermen flocked here from far and wide every winter to fish. It is only in the last fifty years, that their numbers have been decimated, and the Endangered Species Act has stepped in to play a major role in river management. It is one of RRWPC's major concerns however, that proposed projects to save the fish may be too little, too late, and may cause more harm to the watershed than bring protections for the fish.
The river also serves as a water supply source for about 600,000 urban dwellers in Sonoma County and Marin, as well as providing a source of water for extensive grape growing activities throughout the region. This has led to more focus on improved conservation, wastewater reuse, and better management of groundwater resources, to name a few. Yet, there is still much to be done.
And there is a dark side to all this. This area of extraordinary natural beauty and extensive natural resources is also extremely fragile. It is subject to large floods, massive slides, falling trees, high water tables, water quality problems, etc. It is concern for this fragility that has motivated RRWPC to devote our life's work over the last 37 years to preservation of the lower Russian River watershed. This website is testimony to that concern and represents our recent work to preserve it from the influences that would turn it into something less than what it is.
RRWPC Newsletter, Sept.2021: Drought and New Septic Regulations…..updateWait and See…..
Since early this year, as the reservoirs declined and the rain failed to fall, Sonoma County water purveyors suffered a severe case of ‘wait and see’. Early on, it was ‘wait and see’ if the rain comes and the reservoirs fill, even when limited falling rain was greedily absorbed by vegetation and thirsty soil before reaching the creeks. Then it was ‘wait and see’ how much water was being conserved; as time sped by and reservoirs dropped quickly. Even then, in June and July, no one seemed ready to panic. Lowering minimum flows to 35 cfs was also thought to save the day, but that didn’t make Read More >>
Our Disappearing RiverThis article by Brenda Adelman appeared in the August 1, 2021 edition of the Press Democrat as an op-ed piece.
Months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom, facing a recall campaign while managing extraordinary wildfires, Covid-19, and worsening drought, called for a voluntary water conservation effort that initially targeted only Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. Not too much later, as the greatest reservoirs in the state came closer to reaching their lowest levels, Newsom asked the entire State to voluntarily reduce water usage by 15%, while never calling for mandatory savings. In the meantime, water levels went down, down, down.
As conditions became much worse Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, July 2021: Drought, Septics & THPWhile many are now breaking free of COVID and roaring back to their former lives, others are wondering if the Russian River will have any water next fall. It’s rather disconcerting to talk to people about running out of water if they respond with, “What drought”? I photographed the approximately one foot deep mid-river flow recently at one spot in Monte Rio, a sure sign we’ll have a problem. Here’s an update…
Governor declared drought emergency…In late April, Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency for Mendocino and Sonoma Counties, triggering emergency measures to address the drought while not yet making them mandatory. Read More >>
RRWPC Newsletter, February 2021: Septic Rules & TUCPChange is everywhere…. In this COVID-19 age, when it seems like every ordinary mundane activity is turned upside down, and nothing is quick and efficient anymore, we want desperately to believe that things will go back to normal soon. The effects of unprecedented change can be nerve wracking. We’re staying at home more, and supposedly having more time to get things done, but everything seems to take longer. Schedules have been decimated and we often don’t know what day it is.
Our work space may have dwindled down to a small table upon which our computers reside and/or may include work papers spread out upon a bed. Read More >>