Update on Lower Carmel River Project

  Flooding in the Crossroads area in 1995

Flooding in the Crossroads area in 1995

The Resource Management Agency (RMA) of Monterey County held a public meeting on March 26th to share progress and next steps with the environmental impact reports being prepared in support of the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement (CR FREE) Project.  The Project has two components: a Floodplain Restoration component removing levees and restoring the site’s ecological function as a floodplain, and a Causeway component to replace 360 feet of Highway One roadway with a new causeway that will allow the river to flow under Highway One into the south arm of the Carmel River Lagoon.
There are multiple benefits to be derived: reducing the threat of flooding  in the Mission Fields and Crossroads areas, taking pressure off the northern channel of the river, improving water quality in the Lagoon, restoring fish habitat, reducing costs for levee work, increasing public access to the Lagoon and beach, and preparing for the effects of climate change.
The RMA will serve as the lead agency for the California environmental report with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency taking the federal lead.  The current estimate of the total cost for this project is $29 million, with $14 million secured as of now.  The environmental reports are scheduled for the end of this year, with construction slated for the 2020-22 time period.

NEW ZEALAND MUDSNAIL: A Clear and Present Threat to Our River

The New Zealand Mud snail (NZMS) (Potamopyrus antipdarum) is a small (<5mm) invertebrate that is currently threatening fragile stream and river ecosystems in the Western United States. The NZMS) is an invasive species that is able to survive in a wide variety of habitats. It reproduces asexually, and a single snail has the potential to yield 40 million snails in one year, making this species essentially impossible to eradicate once colonization has occurred. Currently, the NZMS has been reported in several locations along the Carmel River (see https://nas.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=1008). As is explained in a 2016 Report from the California Fish and Wildlife, the NZMS is able to out-compete local invertebrate species, which leads to a disruption in the aquatic ecosystem.

What you can do to prevent the spread of the NZMS:

The small size and “cryptic coloration” (Oregon State University report, 2010) of the NZMS makes it ideal for inadvertent transport through shoes, ropes, waders, nets and boats. In order to protect the Carmel River Watershed ecosystem, it is essential that the public take measures to prevent the spread of this invasive species.

The spread of NZMS can be prevented through chemical and physical decontamination methods. The follow is a brief summary of such methods.

Chemical Decontamination methods include household cleaners such as bleach and 409 (for methods see http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/sgpubs/onlinepubs.html).

While chemical decontamination methods are in some cases less time consuming, physical decontamination methods are preferred to reduce potential chemical contamination of the environment. Equipment that comes in contact with the water can be decontaminated by drying (in sunlight) for 48 hours. Additional methods include freezing the gear (-37.4°C) for at least 4 hours, or heating the gear in water at least 120°F for a minimum of 5 minutes. It’s a hassle, but well worth it to prevent further spread!

California Wildlife Day Launched in Carmel Valley!

The inaugural California Wildlife Day (CWD) was joyously celebrated on March 24th with 450 guests in attendance at Garland Ranch Park in Carmel Valley.  It was hosted by the Conservancy and the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District (MPRPD), and featured a Native American blessing by Rumsien Linda Yamane, talks by CWD’s creator Beverly Eyre, Senator Bill Monning, Assemblyman Mark Stone, Supervisor Mary Adams, and MPRPD Bard Chair Kelly Sorenson about the importance of honoring and preserving our rich and diverse wildlife.  The program featured wildlife demonstrations including the fastest bird in nature—a peregrine falcon—which can travel at 300 mph, a great horned owl, bats, and a red-tailed hawk!  Both kids and adults in the audience loved these demonstrations!  Also in the program were children’s wildlife art creation, a flora and fauna walk, environmental exhibits by 20 organizations and agencies; student presentations and exhibitions of their poems, artwork, and wildlife projects; smoothies by the Bike Guy; observations of river invertebrates; lively music by a local band; and complimentary snacks, lunch, and libations for all!  California Wildlife Day will be celebrated annually on or near the Spring Equinox in Carmel Valley.

 Antonio Balestreri with Lex, a Peregrine Falcon

Antonio Balestreri with Lex, a Peregrine Falcon