The million acre watershed of the Russian River is one of the largest drainages in northern California. The 110-mile river knits together a landscape of contrasts: steep mountains with coniferous forest, chaparral, and oak woodland flanking wide flat river valleys.
The Russian River forms an east and west fork and then continues downstream through a series of alluvial valleys separated by hard rock gorges. These valleys have supported farming and ranching for over a hundred and fifty years.
Numerous tributaries drain the mountains, creating and sustaining habitats for salmon and trout as well as many species of birds and small mammals, and larger wildlife such as mountain lion, black bear, deer, coyote, and bobcat. Several cities—Santa Rosa, Ukiah, and Windsor—have grown and replaced agricultural lands over the past 50 years; however, urban areas still occupy less than 10% of the total Russian River watershed.