Salmon protection group will catch water in Tocaloma


The Salmon Protection and Watershed Network is preparing to install new rainwater catchment cisterns around its headquarters near the western end of Samuel P. Taylor State Park, as it sets out on an agreement with the National Park Service over developing a temporary irrigation system to ensure the longevity of newly planted vegetation.

The agreement, financed partly by the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, involves eight new cisterns capable of collecting tens of thousands of gallons of water in the next one to two years, during which SPAWN said it will nourish the one acre of riparian and oak woodland plants it planted earlier this year. The nonprofit also is planning to build another nursery at its Sir Francis Drake Boulevard headquarters.  

“SPAWN loves these types of projects,” executive director Todd Steiner said in a news release last week. “We invite the public to contact us and arrange a visit.”

The group said it has drawn scores of volunteers, including Girl Scout troops, high school students and members of the U.S. Coast Guard, to help maintain the surrounding habitat. It also said it has cultivated “rain gardens,” or shallow basins containing groups of native plants that can remove pollutants and absorb stormwater runoff, and has demolished derelict buildings, like storage units, and other structures it says interfere with the “hydrological function” of the surrounding habitat.

SPAWN’s headquarters, located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, consists of a cluster of office buildings that once were part of a town named Tocaloma, which came under federal control in the 1970s. An agreement between SPAWN and the park service emerged after the properties were vacated in the early 2000s.

The property abuts a row of vacant homes, once part of town named Jewel, also acquired by the federal government.

This reporter visited the properties on a recent spring morning. Debris from the crumbling homes and a pile of garbage from what appears to have become a roadside dumping site inched close to the flood line of the Lagunitas-Papermill Creek.

John Dell’Osso, spokesman for Point Reyes National Seashore, which manages a portion of the western of end of Samuel P. Taylor State Park under an agreement with the GGNRA, said the park is aware of the properties but have no funds for demolition.