Ukiah Valley


Ukiah is derived from the native Pomo word Yo-kayo meaning “deep valley.” The east and west forks combine to form the Russian River in the Ukiah Valley. The river has meandered over its floodplain for thousands of years. Since the construction of the Coyote Dam on the east fork in 1959, the Russian River has undergone significant changes. The dam holds back both water and sediment, causing the river to erode its bed and banks and incise (entrench) into its floodplain. The Russian River has entrenched over 18 feet in the Ukiah Valley. Bank erosion and loss of riparian trees are common parts of this change, as is erosion up tributary creeks and a reduction in groundwater levels. Numerous streams feed into the Russian River in the Ukiah Valley, including: York, Hensley, Ackerman, Mill, Howell, Morrison, Parsons, Robinson, Orrs, Howard, Gibson, and Doolin Creeks. Steelhead trout must swim from the ocean up the Russian River all the way to Ukiah and then upstream into the canyon portions of these tributary creeks to spawn. 
Ukiah Valley has been an agricultural area for over 150 years, supporting fruit orchards, vineyards, dairy ranches, and cattle and sheep operations. Currently the Ukiah Valley is a winegrape region, and has over 2,000 acres of pears and many acres of grazing land.