Butano Creek Floodplain Restoration Project


The Butano Creek Floodplain Restoration Project is a partnership of the RCD and Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST).  The project, completed in fall of 2016, reconnected Butano Creek to approximately 100 acres of its floodplain and enhances natural creek function. This project restored 10% of the watershed’s historical floodplain that had been lost in the previous 100 years. The work that was done here will:

  • Hold 150,000 tons of sediment back from contributing to flooding at Pescadero Creek Road and filling in Pescadero Marsh.
  • Provide protection for juvenile steelhead and salmon during high winter flows;
  • Enable fish to migrate through the reach;
  • Improve water quality in a watershed that is listed under the Clean Water Act as impaired by sediment;
  • Enhance and restore habitats for threatened and endangered wildlife; and
  • Help recharge groundwater.

The project took place at multiple sites along a stretch of Butano Creek where the creek had become disconnected from its historic floodplain because of human activities in the watershed, including removing wood and straightening the channel.  The restoration actions – which included engineered log jams, a rock ramp, floodplain connector channels, and pulling trees on the bank across the channel while keeping them alive– will restore natural ecosystem function to the creek.  They will raise the creek bed and lower banks so that higher flows spill over onto the floodplain, wetting it more regularly and dropping out sediment.  The actions will also reduce the erosion of the creek banks and downcutting of the creek bed. Several imperiled species will benefit from the wetted floodplain habitat, improved creek habitat, and improved water quality, including steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia). There are also significant downstream benefits.  Less sediment will build up in the creek under the Pescadero Creek Road bridge, where the resulting frequent flooding is a public safety hazard and has adverse economic impacts to the town of Pescadero.  Further downstream, Pescadero Marsh is filling in and will benefit from the 150,000 tons of sediment that are held back upstream.

This project could not have happened without the hard work of many partners and the support of the community and elected officials. A Technical Advisory Group  provided substantial input on project design and permitting through their participation in the Integrated Watershed Restoration Program:

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife- Suzanne DeLeon, Jon Jankovitz, and Marcin Whitman
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service- John Klochak
  • NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service- Brian Cluer, Joe Pecharich, and Bill Stevens
  • San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board- Setenay Bozkurt Frucht
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service- Jim Howard
  • San Mateo County- Julie Casagrande
  • California State Parks- Chris Spohrer

Generous funding and in-kind support was provided by:

  • CA Department of Water Resources Urban Streams Restoration Program
  • CA State Coastal Conservancy
  • Peninsula Open Space Trust
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

For more information about sediment and flooding in the watershed, check out the following resources:

Presentation on Butano Creek Floodplain Restoration Project- April 2017

RCD Contact: Jarrad Fisher