Suisun & Ledgewood Creeks


Suisun Creek watershed drains 53 square miles in Napa and Solano counties, from the western flank of the Vaca Mountains to Suisun Marsh. Over ninety percent of the watershed is open space, and most of it is privately owned by farmers and ranchers. The lack of development in the watershed has preserved ample habitat for wildlife, including steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Recent studies have named Suisun Creek as one of 8 “anchor” watersheds in the Bay area supporting steelhead trout habitat. Some long-time residents say that trout used to be so plentiful 40-50 years ago that they would spear the fish out of the stream with a pitchfork.

Suisun Creek derives its name from the Suisun or Suisunes people of the Patwin Indians, who lived in the area at the time of the arrival of the Spanish. Gordon Valley Dam was constructed on Suisun Creek by the City of Vallejo in 1926 for water supply. Wooden Valley Creek and its tributary, White Creek, drains a small agricultural valley and large area of wildlands to meet Suisun Creek several miles downstream of the dam. Ledgewood Creek drains approximately 21 square miles along the eastern side of Suisun Valley to Suisun Marsh.

In the early 20th century, Suisun Valley was a significant producer of stone fruits, including cherries, peaches, and apricots; grapes, walnuts, pears, prunes, and cattle were also shipped to markets in the Bay area and beyond. The cherries from this area were the first to arrive in winter-weary eastern cities; thus fruit from Suisun was highly desirable. Suisun Slough, the tidal area of Suisun Creek, had a port for shipping fruit and for oil tankers. The Suisun Valley Fruit Growers Association was founded in 1920. After World War I, 15-20 packing sheds operated in Suisun Valley, and 45,000 tons of pears per year were shipped out of the valley.

Over the past 40 years, agriculture in Suisun Valley has shifted away from pears and other fruits and toward wine grapes. Grapes made a comeback after Prohibition when phylloxera-resistant rootstock was developed. Nevertheless, a wide variety of crops are still grown in the valley, including tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi fruit, kumquats, and garbanzo beans, in addition to prunes, walnuts, pears, and stone fruits.

The Suisun Creek Watershed Program began in 2002 as a collaboration between landowners, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Laurel Marcus & Associates, the City of Vallejo, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board and produced a watershed plan in 2004. CLSI now directs implementation of the watershed plan through the Fish Friendly Farming program and a grant through the Department of Conservation for a Suisun Creek Watershed Coordinator. Implementation actions include Arundo donax eradication and revegetation of Suisun Creek, revegetation of lower Wooden Valley Creek and upper White Creek, and extensive water quality and temperature monitoring.