Our Purpose and Mission Statement:
The San Geronimo Valley Stewards (SGVS) is a community based organization working to represent property owners in restoring our creeks through collaborative volunteer efforts. The Stewards’ objectives are: To talk to the entire SGV community to develop a clear picture of the residents’ needs, desires, and abilities for creek restoration; Build a diverse community coalition as a resource to support valley residents’ responsible improvement of their properties; Support those individuals who are burdened, and those that feel they don’t have a voice in the future of their home; Bring information and resources to the Valley because we trust our neighbors’ to make wise decisions if they have good information and resources.
SPAWN Study's Scope - December 2, 2013
Meeting at Golf Course Today, Dec 2, at 10:00am
SPAWN, California Department of Fish and Game and ESA PWA have prepared their draft version for the golf course and community to review. The study's scope:
Develop a Plan (with chapters for each lettered), working directly with golf course owners and/or their representatives that provide detailed strategies, feasibility and prioritization to:
(A) Identify locations for restoring and re-creating floodplain habitat consistent with golf operations;
(B) Identify locations and develop conceptual plans for restoring and re-creating riparian forest, consistent with golf operations;
(C) Identify and develop conceptual plans for all locations for installation of large instream woody debris;
(D) Identify and develop conceptual plans and evaluate all salmon barriers and obstacles to migration not yet evaluated and prioritize their removal;
(E) Develop a storm management plan and develop conceptual plans for the 2.5 million gallons of annual storm run-off from buildings and parking lots located in two adjacent areas;
(F) Develop a water conservation program and develop conceptual plans incorporating information from E and F (above);
(G) Prepare a plan for eradication of invasive species (bullfrogs, bass, bluegill, and the aquatic plant parrot-feather in golf course ponds);
(H) Develop an integrated pest management plan to minimize pesticide, chemical, and fertilizer use.
Editorial: County stream law again leads to court fight - Marin Independent Journal Editorial
POSTED: 11/29/2013 04:28:00 AM PST
ONE OF THE BIG LOOSE ENDS when the county approved its countywide plan was how to strengthen rules to protect Marin's creeks.
Over the past seven years, tying that loose end has been foiled by political mistakes and legal fights.
The county Board of Supervisors' most recent approval of new building restrictions has, not surprisingly, led to another legal fight as the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network is taking its battle to court to overturn the county's approval.
This, despite repeated attempts by the county to draft an "interim" ordinance that addresses both property owners' concerns about losing use of their creekside land and SPAWN's push to require a 100-foot setback between the creekbank and buildings.
The San Geronimo Valley Stewards has an announcement
from Eric Ettlinger, Fish Biologist with MMWD
On Tuesday, November 26, 2013 11:42 AM, Eric Ettlinger email@example.com wrote:
Salmon spawning season has returned to Lagunitas Creek, and so has one of its more uncommon and sporadic visitors. Chinook salmon, commonly known as king salmon, have been seen spawning in the creek for the first time in five years! The first sign of Chinook this season was a redd discovered on October 24, which would be exceptionally early for our resident coho salmon to spawn (a redd is a gravel nest where salmon lay their eggs). Their presence was confirmed on November 13 when three Chinook spawners were seen on that very same redd. Since then MMWD biologists have documented a total of seven Chinook salmon in Lagunitas Creek, which is the most seen since 2006. These salmon probably weren't born in Lagunitas Creek, but may have gotten lost as they migrated back to their natal streams in the Central Valley.
One of the most perplexing aspects of our Chinook observations this season has been the presence of very small salmon (less than a foot long) sharing redds with very large Chinook. These small fish behave like "jacks," which are small but sexually mature salmon that return to spawn a year earlier than full-sized salmon. The adult male salmon chase them like they were competitors, but we've never seen jacks this small. We've only seen two so far, but ruled out trout or other fish species as candidates. A little research turned up a Chinook life history variant called the "mini-jack," which migrate as fry to estuaries for only a couple of months before swimming back upstream to spawn. If these little fish are indeed mini-jacks, then Chinook salmon must have spawned in Lagunitas Creek last year but were never seen. We did find a few redds in November last year that looked like Chinook redds, but without seeing the fish we couldn't assume that Chinook had returned. Now it looks like the King may have returned a year ago.
To date we haven't seen any coho salmon in Lagunitas Creek, but that's not unusual. The first coho tend to show up in late November after heavy rains increase stream flows. Last week's rain hardly increased flows, so the coho may be waiting a little longer to migrate upstream. Rain or no rain, we'll probably start seeing coho within the next couple of weeks. Once the rain really starts falling, we're expecting more coho salmon to return to Lagunitas Creek than we've seen in at least seven years.
NEW STREAM ORDINANCE AND COUNTY PROGRAM
-- THE PATH FORWARD
From San Geronimo Valley Stewards:
Dear Homeowners and Supporters,
It has been an interesting Fall. We want to update you on recent developments and where we go from here.
IS THE NEW STREAM ORDINANCE GOOD FOR THE VALLEY?
Yes, the new temporary ordinance lifts the Court injunction that banned all building in the Valley. SGV Stewards supported the Board of Supervisors vote on October 29, 2013 to adopt the temporary stream ordinance on a Countywide basis.
The temporary ordinance allows small home projects. Each homeowner can add up to 500 square feet of impervious area to their home (such as a new bedroom, deck, or garage). Cost of a Tier 1 permit: $250. Another 120 square feet of improvements can be added within a previously disturbed area (such as a landscaping or driveway). Also, the homeowner can repair and maintain his home, add handicap access, trim trees and brush for fire protection, and build fences -- without any permit required.
I, along with 40 other San Geronimo Stewards homeowners, are participating in the Land Owners Assistance Program that educates property owners on how to protect habitat on our land.
We have had experts from agencies such as, Fish and Wildlife, Army Corp of Engineers, Marin Municipal Water Dept., NOAA, onto our properties to advise us. We have gone on to educate others in the Valley. We have never met a homeowner who once informed was not willing to cooperate. Yet SPAWN has called us "know nothing homeowners" who are responsible for the demise of the fish.
No other environmental group the Valley homeowners have worked with (and there are many)has ever blamed our 9% of the entire watershed for the plight of the salmon.
WE want our supervisors to give us a fair ordinance, commensurate with the scientific truth of our situation, that we can live with. One that is motivated by the desire to protect fish, habitat, water quality and the people who have lived in harmony with the fish for over a hundred years. We do not want an ordinance created by a board who is trying, above all else, to protect themselves from litigation, and therefore placating an organization who wants more and more power over homeowners in the Valley.
~ Quotes by Donna McGuinn
The Court ordered the ordinance must comply with the 100-foot setback in the 2007 Countywide Plan. However, the setback applies only to mapped streams. The County improved its stream map for San Geronimo Valley to show the blue line running down the center of each mapped stream. The new map more accurately measures the 100 foot setback. For geophysical reasons, few ephemeral streams are mapped, except those on the ridgetops which are headwaters for major creeks.
Most important, the temporary ordinance applies to the entire County. Over 3,900 homeowners in every Supervisor District will be affected by the temporary ordinance. This is one reason all five Supervisors have expressed interest in studying amendments to the 2007 Countywide Plan, to make it more friendly for houses on small lots in developed neighborhoods.
The day is past when County officials could toss San Geronimo under the bus and drive away.
WHAT IS THE COUNTY PROGRAM FOR THE NEXT TWO YEARS?
On October 29, the Supervisors adopted a "Work Program" to assist homeowners under the temporary ordinance. Marin Resource Conservation District (RCD) will help landowners obtain permits for creek improvements and apply for financial aid. RCD has successfully worked with West Marin ranchers for decades. SG Valley Stewards welcome their participation. RCD respects property rights and has experience and expertise in cost effective conservation of natural resources.
The Supervisors also voted to appoint a Stream Watershed Advisory Group (SWAG) which will include representatives of major homeowner associations, government officials and conservation groups. SWAG meetings and a series of public workshops will consider possible amendments to the 2007 Countywide Plan. The focus will be on differing approaches to protect ephemeral streams (surface run off when it rains) and modifying the stream setbacks (currently, 100 feet in West Marin, and 20 feet to 100 feet in Southern and Eastern Marin).
San Geronimo Valley Stewards expects to send a representative to the SWAG. We look forward to working with responsible conservation groups and other homeowner associations to find common ground and compromise our differences.
WHEN WILL THE STREAM ORDINANCE BE EFFECTIVE?
On December 28, 2013, the temporary ordinance will take effect in San Geronimo Valley and the rest of the County.
It has a "sunset" of April 28, 2016. On that date, the temporary ordinance will automatically expire. The County plans to prepare amendments to the CountyWide Plan and a permanent ordinance by that date.
During the 29 months of the temporary ordinance, if any group (such as SPAWN) files a lawsuit challenging the temporary ordinance, the County can stop enforcing or applying the ordinance. This is the "poison pill" or "no contest clause". Any group that tries to obtain a court order, saying the ordinance is not strict enough or does not comply with the law, risks losing enforcement of the ordinance for the entire County.
However, any future lawsuit would not stop work on the County Program. Homeowner assistance would continue. Study of Countywide Plan amendments would continue.
WE ARE THE ONLY ORGANIZATION WORKING TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY HOME AND OUR STREAM HABITATS.
With your support, San Geronimo Valley Stewards have accomplished a lot since the first building moratorium hit the Valley in January 2008.
* The first draft of the 2009 SEP (Salmon Enhancement Plan) would have been a disaster for homeowners. Stewards successfully fought for changes (such as SEP's recommendation the stream setback be reduced to 35 feet).
* We defeated the SPAWN's proposed 2010 "Riparian Vegetation Ordinance" which would have outlawed home gardens and increased fire risk.
* We convinced the Supervisors to modify the 2011 tree ordinance and reduce permit fees.
* Over the past year, we whittled away over reaching aspects of the temporary stream ordinance, and persuaded the Supervisors to study amendments to the Countywide Plan.
* We sponsor community meetings and bring County officials to the Valley. We listen to your concerns and carry your suggestions to government representatives.
* We have built bridges to other homeowner groups and conservation groups interested in a balanced approach.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP US MOVE FORWARD
Over the next two years, we have some miles to walk in the path forward. San Geronimo Valley Stewards are all volunteers who donate their time, talent and funds. We have no paid staff. We do not receive government grants.
We encourage you to volunteer, donate time and services. We have so much talent in our community!
Your attendance at the county-sponsored workshops and public hearings will be very important to achieve amendments to the CountyWide Plan.
We can always use your generous donations of money. We are a "do it ourselves" organization, but sometimes we must employ experts on legal and scientific matters. This costs money.
We look forward to your suggestions for cost effective means to protect our streams and our homes. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org We read all your emails, and reply to as many as possible.
WHERE CAN YOU FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE STREAM ORDINANCE?
The Marin Community Development Agency is currently drafting guidelines for home projects to assist with the permit approval process.
You can locate your home on the stream conservation area map.
You can also email Suzanne Thorsen at email@example.com, or Tom Lai at firstname.lastname@example.org
SG Valley Stewards will soon publish on our website a "Homeowners Summary" of the temporary stream ordinance. Visit www.sgvstewards.org
Marin Creek Rules in Limbo as Salmon Group Sues County - Marin IJ Article - Nov. 2013
Marin creek rules in limbo as salmon group sues county
By Nels Johnson
Marin Independent Journal POSTED: 11/19/2013
A Forest Knolls fishery group has filed another lawsuit against the county, contending an ordinance regulating development near creeks doesn't protect endangered coho salmon.
The move by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network handcuffs a county effort to enact interim regulations in unincorporated areas countywide.
In addition, it may revive a push at the Civic Center to revise the countywide plan in order to ease the document's prescription for 100-foot building setbacks near creeks and headwater drainage swales — a rule that curbs use of small rural lots in areas including San Geronimo Valley.
A county lawyer called the litigation a waste of time, but fishery advocates said it blocks development near habitat of an endangered species in dire straits.
TWO CENTS 11/20/13
Has the county done enough to protect wild salmon?
Total Votes = 122
Update from The County of Marin about SCA
Marin County Subscriptions, November 20, 2013
Important Update: Implementation of Interim Stream Conservation Area (SCA) Ordinance that was approved by the Board of Supervisors will not proceed due to litigation filed on November 18, 2013 by the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN) and the Center for Biological Diversity. Studies supporting development of a permanent SCA Ordinance will continue.
Below, please see responses to some questions you may have about the status of the SCA.
Without the ordinance, how do County Codes protect streams and their habitat? The Interim SCA Ordinance would have implemented the 2007 Countywide Plan SCA policies by requiring science-based management practices for all permits in the SCA, applying consistent standards for properties in both conventional and planned zoning districts, and expanding permit requirements to “flatwork” (such as patios and driveways) and native vegetation removal in the SCA. However, the County’s Development Code current includes protections for streams and riparian habitat, which are unaffected by the pending litigation:
Find Your Home on New Stream Maps County Website
The new stream maps of the San Geronimo Valley are posted on the Marin County SCA web page. You can use the look-up tool to search for your property on the updated SCA map.
The center of each stream shows as a thin dark blue line. The light blue bubble area is the Stream Conservation Area zone, which is measured as 105 feet on each side of stream center.
Most of the streams on the map are major perennial creeks, or seasonal (intermittent) streams. A few ephemeral drainages (surface runoff when it rains) are shown as tan lines.
The property look-up and the pdf maps are online at www.co.marin.ca.us/sca You can also link to the SCA look-up tool: http://gis.marinpublic.com/GeoCodelookup/Default.master.aspx
You can search under your street address or Assessor's parcel number (APN). Vacant parcels can be searched only under APN.
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