City of Petaluma Founded
Adobe Creek chosen as city Water Source
City of Petaluma devises system of Water Diversions that enables city to divert 100% of Adobe Creek water for city purposes. This elaborate system of reservoirs and flumes terminates at the foothill of Sonoma Mountain causing everything downstream to die-off due to lack of water.
While teaching a unit on Endangered Species in his classroom, Instructor Tom Furrer feels the apathy of 100+ students who feel there is “nothing they can do about the world's environmental problems.” Frustrated and without guidance, he heads off on a Sunday afternoon for a walk and finds himself in the now dry, dead streambed of Adobe Creek.
While walking he encounters streamside neighbor Charlie Malnati- an elderly gentleman who has lived alongside Adobe Creek his entire life. Charlie shows Tom Furrer a small group of trapped fingerling Steelhead Trout and asks for his help to save them, as they are all that is left of a dying species. Charlie explains to Furrer what the creek used to look like and how healthy it had been and how, as a child, he loved to watch the adult Steelhead Trout migrate through his backyard. Now he walks a dry streambed littered with old cars, tires, human garbage and litter of everything imaginable.
Instructor Tom Furrer spends two years studying Adobe Creek and then launches the most ambitious project of his life- "The Adobe Creek Restoration Project." Designed to show kids "you can make a difference," the project begins with just a hope, a dream and our goal- "To do everything we can to save that genetic strain of Steelhead Trout native to Adobe Creek and restore the entire creek side habitat to pre-1950 condition."
Adobe Creek in Petaluma, California is deemed "dead" by community and state officials as a result of city water diversions, which take 100% of Adobe Creek water. All downstream life dies.
Students form the group, United Anglers of Casa Grande High School, and officially adopt Adobe Creek in an effort to see if they can really make a difference in its environmental condition.
Massive creek cleanup begins: over 30 truckloads of illegally dumped waste are hauled out of Adobe Creek (e.g. stoves, refrigerators, tires, old engines and car parts, etc.)
In an effort to start rebuilding streamside habitat students begin planting over 1100 trees a year.
Fundraiser nets $6,000 to convert abandoned on-campus green house into a student-operated fish hatchery.
Approximately 2,000 baby Steelhead Trout are rescued from drying summer pools.
Students begin a long-term study of the city's water diversions on Adobe Creek. Their first plea to the city council is adamantly denied.
Fish hatchery building closed and condemned after failing earthquake standards.
Graduates fill seats in local Natural Resource and Environmental college programs throughout the state.
Undeterred by School Board's decision to close their first hatchery, students rebound with desire to build a world-class facility on campus. With a price tag of $510,00 students launched an all-out fundraising effort.
Students line the creek in February, as 21 of their fish return to spawn.
Sonoma County Water Agency project bulldozes down 200 3-year-old redwoods planted by students. Valuable shade area is lost. The agency promises to replant area but never follows through. In 1990 students replant the area themselves.
Students begin massive campaign asking the city officials to please stop diverting all of Adobe Creek's water and let the creek heal.
FIVE King Salmon return to spawn in Adobe Creek: first time documented this century.
"ESPN Outdoors" CEO Jerry McKinnis visits and produces the first of four documentaries on the project - this brings national attention to Adobe Creek.
Over two-hundred students apply for one of the twenty spots in UACG
Oldest redwoods, planted in 1984 are found dug up and stolen in December
Due in part to relentless pressure from students, the city of Petaluma announces its plan to abandon all water diversions on Adobe Creek, giving it back to nature and the United Anglers of Casa Grande High School.
Students reach goal of $510,000 enabling the completion of our new conservation fish hatchery by Spring 1993
Past and present members of the United Anglers of Casa Grande High School show their pride at the grand opening of their state-of-the-art on-campus fish hatchery, April 25, 1993
Students rescue 38 adult Chinook Salmon from warm water conditions in Petaluma River.
"ESPN Outdoors" with Jerry McKinnis airs fourth documentary on our project.
Director of Fish and Game, Jacqueline Schafer, spends over four hours visiting creek, hatchery, and individual talks with students
Main electrical transformer on school grounds explodes, causing power outage at the school and fish hatchery. Our back-up generator performs well for 72 hours, and then QUITS. Repair costs exceed $25,000 for generator and over $15,000 for related electrical equipment. Power outage lasts for 43 days and causes students to monitor system 24-hours a day for all 43 days.
A developer’s "by-pass channel" on Adobe Creek fails (as predicted by student studies) and over 12 "threatened Steelhead" are killed and over 4 feet of siltation is dumped in Adobe Creek - covering over three miles of restored rearing habitat. Students' cry for help falls on deaf ears. Who is supposed to be held responsible for killing a threatened species?
Students return to school full of spirit! Once again the battle over the by-pass channel rears its ugly head. Unable to afford legal council students continue to document the deadly trap now in place. Light rain proves good for Steelhead as over 35 adults return to spawn.
Studying low summer flows, students find that Steelhead fry are spending the summer in the creek substrate, re-emerging when flows become reestablished, an incredible scientific discovery.
A record 74 Chinook Salmon return to Adobe Creek - including a "Lost Female Chum Salmon." Nine Steelhead arrive late into April
Our 20-Year Celebration! Over 60 Adult Steelhead Trout return to Adobe Creek- largest return to date.
Disaster strikes again. An unsupervised work crew from Sonoma County Water Agency cuts down over 200 yards of 20-year-old student-planted trees in the name of flood control. Community and student response is explosive. SCWA promises to replant and repair damage. Sonoma County Grand Jury launches a long investigation.
In an effort to help educate others about the environment, students begin a new offshoot- "The Junior United Anglers." Students visit local elementary school to promote the project and begin with two teachers and 60 3rd and 5th graders.
News from Japan that the story of the "Adobe Creek Restoration Project" is chapter seven in a universal textbook used in all public schools in Japan.
Popularity in the "Junior Anglers Program" grows to five teachers and 150 3rd and 5th graders.
Our 25th Year Celebration of the Adobe Creek Restoration Project. November 3rd - Lucchesi Center in Petaluma.