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The mission of the Coast Range Watershed Institute is to advance the understanding, management, and restoration of hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological resources by conducting scientific investigations, facilitating data and information sharing, and providing education and outreach to stakeholders, interested communities, and professionals. The Coast Range Watershed Institute (CRWI) is a California scientific and educational non-profit organization registered with the State of California and recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.

Conserving and sustaining water supplies for human use while maintaining in-stream flows for aquatic habitat in the face of increasing water demands and the uncertainties of climate change is a significant challenge.  Survival of coho salmon in coastal watersheds depends on management of water resources throughout tributary stream channel networks. To navigate these challenges we advocate a holistic approach that considers all the significant hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecologic factors that affect streamflow.

There is scientific consensus that groundwater and surface water resources are inextricably linked.  Better understanding of this linkage over time and space in a watershed can inform the management of water resources.  Surface water in streams is better quantified and has been regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Rights for many decades.  California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will eventually result in improved knowledge of groundwater conditions and improved groundwater management in many of the State’s largest and most intensively managed groundwater basins.

A large proportion of tributary watersheds that provide critical habitat for endangered species such as coho salmon remain outside the jurisdiction of SGMA, and groundwater resources in these upland watersheds are not well quantified or understood. Projects proposing to use groundwater are typically evaluated on a project-by-project basis by County government. Cumulative effects of all water uses in a given watershed are rarely analyzed comprehensively. Habitat restoration practitioners working in these watersheds seek to enhance and restore habitat conditions; however, the underlying hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological factors driving streamflow and habitat are often poorly understood.  CRWI is an advocate for improved understanding of groundwater recharge processes, surface water/groundwater interactions, and holistic determination of sustainable management of groundwater and surface water that maintains adequate streamflow to support recovery of endangered species and aquatic ecosystems. The California Water Action Plan has similar goals and objectives.   

CRWI seeks to contribute to watershed and regional hydrogeomorphic and hydrogeologic studies to support objective water resources management and habitat enhancement and restoration. CRWI advocates for water resources management that is sensitive to both site-specific and watershed conditions and hydrologic processes.



Matt O’Connor, PhDChief Executive Officer

Sara Press, Secretary (October 2021)—Sara has worked to protect land and water in Sonoma County since 2008, first at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District and now at Sonoma Land Trust. Prior to that, she worked as an urban and regional planner throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Sara holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University, an M.A. in geography from the University of Oregon, and professional certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Sarah Nossaman Pierce, Treasurer (October 2021)—Sarah has been working to support Russian River salmon recovery for the past 25 years through stream and watershed assessment, habitat restoration, fish monitoring and specialized research with the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the University of California Cooperative Extension, and in her current position with California Sea Grant. She is particularly interested in documenting and remediating the impacts of streamflow impairment on ecosystem health and chairs the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership.


Mark Nolan, Environmental Educator, County of San Mateo—Secretary through October 2021-Many thanks!

Mariska Obedzinski, Fisheries Biologist, California Sea Grant—Treasurer through October 2021-Many thanks!

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