Frenchman’s Creek runs through privately owned land on the outskirts of Half Moon Bay. Though surrounded in its lower reaches by agricultural land, it supports wildlife habitat and, until recently, steelhead salmon spawning grounds. One stretch was identified by San Mateo County Resource Conservation District as a block to steelhead passage; they undertook restoration of steelhead fish passage to upper Frenchman’s Creek while ensuring access to adjacent lands for continued agricultural production. Go Native served as the contractor on the project, which entailed removing the existing earthen bridge, re-directing the creek to flow over a series of rock weirs, installing a new bridge salvaged from a railroad car chassis, and replanting the area with native plants. This project required special sensitivity to the existing fauna and flora, as well as to the private landowners who supported the restoration.
To control water flow, the creek course was re-contoured and eight step-pool weirs were emplaced. For each weir, a compacted layer of gravel was overlaid with two tiers of 5 ft. diameter rocks, resulting in a series of 16” drops. Where possible, existing trees were left place; other trees were used as crib walls or habitat cover.
The replacement bridge is an 85’ long recycled railroad car chassis supported by poured concrete abutments.
Creek banks were covered with biodegradable erosion control fabric and planted with native plants. Stream flow was re-established, restoring steelhead access. As Go Native has grown in experience and expertise, it has been gratifying to accomplish projects such as this one, which benefit both people and wildlife.