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Protecting the Sonoma Creek Watershed

The Sonoma Creek Watershed is a 166-square-mile valley located 45 miles north of San Francisco.

We all live in a watershed. In Sonoma Valley, all creeks drain to the marshes and tidelands ringing San Pablo Bay. Thus, the Sonoma Valley is part of the Sonoma Creek watershed.

With its beautiful, largely rural watershed, Sonoma Valley boasts some of the finest parks, forests, grasslands and vineyards in the San Francisco Bay Area. Upland areas are drained by Sonoma Creek—which, along with its tributaries, is home to a run of endangered steelhead trout, as well as Chinook salmon and California freshwater shrimp.

For three decades, Sonoma Ecology Center has promoted watershed health in multiple ways

Research – Over three decades, Sonoma Ecology Center scientists have amassed a wealth of watershed-related resources and reports, including long-term data on streamflow and other metrics, studies on keystone species such as Steelhead, and more. Targeted programs such as the Streamflow Stewardship Program are designed to work with local landowners and other community members to implement tried-and-true methods for improving watershed health.

Restoration – Sonoma Ecology Center’s team of restoration experts conducts a variety of projects throughout the year, ranging from invasive weed removal to native plant propagation to erosion control, that improve and sustain watershed health. Certain efforts, such as the post-fire Watershed Protection Program, work directly with landowners and community members to tackle specific challenges to watershed health.

Education – SEC educators provide ongoing watershed science education free of charge to all Sonoma Valley grade schoolers via our Watershed Education Program, as well as high-quality science education for teens and adults through EnviroLeaders, California Naturalist and other programs. By sharing scientific knowledge with generations of Sonoma Valley residents, Sonoma Ecology Center is laying the foundation for future watershed protection.

To learn more about our watershed, see these Sonoma Ecology Center resources

Upper Sonoma Creek Restoration Vision – A thorough analysis, report and demonstration project proposal for improving the upper reaches of Sonoma Creek. This vision booklet featuring beautiful maps and diagrams was developed to improve spawning conditions for adult Steelhead.

An Introduction to the Historical Ecology of the Sonoma Creek Watershed – This publication is intended as an introduction to how historical ecology can help local residents and resource managers understand current conditions and develop strategies for environmental recovery in the Sonoma Creek watershed.

What is a Watershed? – Downloadable educational handout (pdf, front and back) explaining the meaning and importance of a watershed, with details about our own Sonoma Creek Watershed. We use it when we teach in Sonoma Valley schools.

SSCRCD Creek Care Guide

Sonoma Valley Historical Hydrology Mapping Project

Sonoma Valley Groundwater Recharge Potential Mapping Project

Sonoma Valley Knowledge Base – A comprehensive library of scientific, historical, and even poetic materials about the Sonoma Valley watershed. (Note: we are in the process of rebuilding our Knowledge Base. For questions or requests, please contact us at

Sonoma Creek Watershed