Doc’s Ranch Vineyard was recently certified under the California Land Stewardship Institute’s Fish-Friendly Farming® program. This innovative program was developed in 1999 for farmers and vineyard owners to help restore precious habitat for steelhead trout and salmon populations in California waterways. The Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in northern and central California rivers are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the Coho salmon are listed as endangered. By doing our part to improve conditions for salmon and trout in neighboring Fay Creek and other nearby waterways, we are helping to maintain and restore conditions for their eventual return. It also creates wildlife habitat for songbirds, raptors, frogs, coyotes, reptiles and others. All of these species share the same intricate food web as the salmon, and play an important role in the diversity of the ecosystem in which we grow our grapes.
Working on site with technical experts from the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the County Agricultural Commission, Doc’s Ranch Vineyard completed a detailed Farm Conservation Plan that implements Beneficial Management Practices. The focus is on water conservation, soil erosion and land management for the vineyard. As an example, trout and salmon require cold, high-quality water for survival in all stages of life in fresh water. Fine sediment from soil erosion is a major contaminant that can degrade fish habitat and water quality. We worked closely with these agencies to ensure that we met high standards for controlling erosion and sediment runoff in the vineyard. Given the careful design of Doc’s Ranch Vineyard during our development phase, there were very few issues we needed to contend with, and we passed our certification inspections with flying colors. We are delighted to report that we received our official notice in late 2014 that we are now certified as “Fish Friendly”.