Gualala River Stream Team Stewardship Project

Gualala River Stream Team Stewardship Project

The Coastal Commission recently awarded a Whale Tail Grant to the CA Urban Streams Alliance – The Stream Team. The grant is to initiate a stewardship engagement and watershed monitoring effort for the impaired, lower reach of the Gualala River and estuary, a habitat for endangered species such as young Coho salmon and steelhead.

Redwood Coast Land Conservancy (RCLC) and Friends of the Gualala River (FOGR) are partnering with The Stream Team in this volunteer, community-based project. The project is inclusive, aiming to recruit and involve a broad spectrum of Mendonoma residents from Manchester to Stewarts Point including students, teachers, and members of community organizations.

Although The Stream Team is based in Chico, California, Timmarie Hamill, the Director of The Stream Team, is not new to coast. Her involvement began in 2000, when she landed a grant with Friends of the Garcia River (FrOG) to engage students and community members in conducting water quality surveys of the Garcia River. In 2003, Timmarie completed her teaching credential while working at Point Arena High School and Pacific Community Charter School as a student teacher of biology. For Discover the Coast in 2016 and 2017, The Stream Team provided a docent station to test the water quality of a creek on Point Arena–Stornetta Public Lands.

The Gualala River Stream Team Stewardship Project has four main goals: (1) Raise awareness about the Gualala River and its estuary by promoting education and engagement through environmental stewardship; (2) Establish a Gualala River Stream Team to engage the community in watershed assessment; (3) Involve a wide range of Mendonoma residents; and (4) Build organizational capacity to sustain the projects.

The Stream Team’s annual training and quarterly water monitoring events took place on RCLC’s Mill Bend Property. At the annual training in July, participants learned about: 1) habitat and water quality impairments within the Gualala River watershed, 2) life cycle of Coho salmon and steelhead, 3) effects of climate change on watershed health, 4) effective stewardship practices, 5) proper use of monitoring equipment and sampling protocols, and 6) safety measures for field work.

Quarterly water monitoring events will evaluate chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of the Gualala River and its estuary. FOGR is providing funding for The Stream Team’s preparation of the Monitoring Plan (MP) and Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). The next event is scheduled for Saturday October 22, 2022.

If you are interested in learning more about or participating in the project, click here to see details in The Stream Team newsletter.

RCLC hires Dave Shpak as Mill Bend project manager

RCLC hires Dave Shpak as Mill Bend project manager

By J. Stephen McLaughlin
news@mendonoma.com
Photo by Craig Tooley

The Redwood Coast Land Conservancy announced this week it has hired Dave Shpak of Gualala to be its first paid staffer to manage the next phases of its Mill Bend project. Shpak will come on board Dec. 7 to take over from Kathleen Chasey, who has volunteered with the project since it first started about three years ago.

Community donations, along with grants, raised $2.7 million to purchase the 113-acre parcel, which includes blufftop and riverside lands just south of downtown Gualala.

Tina Batt, president of the nonprofit RCLC, said the cost of hiring a part-time project manager was included in a state grant. Shpak will coordinate with multiple agencies to formulate a plan and develop additional grant funding for trails and habitat restoration.

Shpak is a registered member of American Institute of Certified Planners, in a 33-year career in planning and project management. His most recent position was project manager for WSP USA – California High-Speed Rail Delivery Partner. He has also been park development manager for the City of West Sacramento.

He and his wife, Susan Wolbarst (who is a reporter for the Independent Coast Observer), have been part-time residents of Gualala for 11 years, becoming fulltime about a year ago. Their son, Zach Shpak, is a nurse at Redwood Coast Medical Services in Gualala.

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