Nicasio Creek

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Nicasio Creek
Nicasio Creek
Country United States
State California
Region Marin County
District West Marin
Landmark Nicasio Reservoir
Source Big Rock Ridge
 - location 4 mi (6 km) southwest of Novato
 - elevation 1,030 ft (314 m)
 - coordinates 38°3′42″N122°37′37″W / 38.06167°N 122.62694°W / 38.06167; -122.62694   [1]
Mouth Lagunitas Creek
 - location 2 mi (3 km) east of Point Reyes Station
 - elevation 39 ft (12 m) [1]
 - coordinates 38°4′12″N122°46′12″W / 38.07000°N 122.77000°W / 38.07000; -122.77000 Coordinates: 38°4′12″N122°46′12″W / 38.07000°N 122.77000°W / 38.07000; -122.77000   [1]

Nicasio Creek is an 11.9-mile-long (19.2 km) [2] stream in Marin County, California, United States and is the primary tributary of Lagunitas Creek, which flows, in turn, into Tomales Bay, and the Pacific Ocean. The Nicasio Reservoir, formed in 1961 by Seeger Dam, is located on this stream.

Marin County, California County in California, United States

Marin County is a county located in the San Francisco Bay Area of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 252,409. Its county seat is San Rafael. Marin County is included in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Lagunitas Creek river in the United States of America

Lagunitas Creek is a 24 miles (39 km)-long northward-flowing stream in Marin County, California. It is critically important to the largest spawning runs of endangered coho salmon in the Central California Coast Coho salmon Evolutionary Significant Unit. The stream's headwaters begin on the northern slopes of Mt. Tamalpais in the Coast Range and terminate in southeast Tomales Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) northwest of Point Reyes Station, California. Lagunitas Creek feeds several reservoirs on Mt. Tamalpais that supply a major portion of the county's drinking water.



Nicasio Creek and the Rancho Nicasio are probably named for a Coast Miwok named "Nicasio" by the Spanish missionaries. The original diseno for the 1835 and 1844 land grants shows Arroyo de Nicasio, Casa de los Indios de Nicasio, and Roblar de Nicasio for Nicasio Creek, the house of the Nicasio Indians, and the oaks of Nicasio. [3]

Rancho Nicasio was a Mexican land grant of 56,807 acres (230 km2) granted to the Coast Miwok indigenous people in 1835, located in the present-day Marin County, California, a tract of land that stretched from San Geronimo to Tomales Bay. Today, Nicasio, California is at the heart of this location.

In the mid-1830s, General Mariano Vallejo promised 80,000 acres (324 km2) to the Marin County Coast Miwok Indians and asked them to choose the lands, since their original lands had been co-opted by the Mission San Rafael. [4] In 1835, the land was granted by Mexican Governor José Figueroa, however the Indians were subsequently swindled out of the land by General Vallejo and Governor Juan Bautista Alvarado. By the time the scheme was discovered in 1843, the disputed lands were quietly granted to Pablo de la Guerra, an aristocratic Spaniard, and John B. R. Cooper, an Irishman who already owned the Rancho Punta de Quentin near San Rafael. In 1855, the Miwok claim was rejected by the Public Land Commission. [5] Subsequently, de la Guerra sold his land in 1850 to Henry Wager Halleck. Halleck had arrived in California in 1847 as a lieutenant in the United States Engineers, accompanied by his friend, Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman. Halleck was a partner in the San Francisco law firm, Halleck, Peachy & Billings, and in the Civil War was promoted by President Abraham Lincoln to general-in-chief of the armies of the United States. Halleck hunted and fished at Rancho Nicasio, and built a house on the creek near Nicasio, now called Halleck Creek. [6]

Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo Californian military commander, politician, and rancher

Don Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was a Californio general, statesman, and public figure. He was born a subject of Spain, performed his military duties as an officer of the Republic of Mexico, and shaped the transition of Alta California from a territory of Mexico to the U. S. state of California. He served in the first session of the California State Senate. The city of Vallejo, California is named for him, and the nearby city of Benicia is named for his wife.

Coast Miwok tribe of Native American people

The Coast Miwok are an indigenous people that was the second largest group of Miwok people. The Coast Miwok inhabited the general area of modern Marin County and southern Sonoma County in Northern California, from the Golden Gate north to Duncans Point and eastward to Sonoma Creek. The Coast Miwok included the Bodega Bay Miwok, from authenticated Miwok villages around Bodega Bay, and the Marin Miwok.

Mission San Rafael Arcángel museum

Mission San Rafael Arcángel was founded in 1817 as a medical asistencia ("sub-mission") of Mission San Francisco de Asís. It was a hospital to treat sick Native Americans, making it Alta California's first sanitarium. The weather was much better than in San Francisco, which helped the ill get better. It was not intended to be a stand-alone mission, but nevertheless grew and prospered and was granted full mission status on October 19, 1822.

Watershed and Course

The Nicasio Creek watershed drains 36 square miles (93 km2) of coastal area of Marin County, California. This creek is the primary tributary of Lagunitas Creek which enters the Pacific Ocean at the head of Tomales Bay. [7]

Originating on Big Rock Ridge west of the city of Novato, Nicasio Creek descends initially to the south. Approaching Lucas Valley Road, it turns and follows the road as it winds westward, passing south of Skywalker Ranch to the town of Nicasio. North of Nicasio, it feeds into Nicasio Reservoir just as Halleck Creek enters from the east. The reservoir drains to the west, through a gap in Bolinas Ridge. Seeger Dam is located approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) upstream from the confluence of Nicasio and Lagunitas Creeks. The dam was constructed in 1960 by the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) to store water for cities in southern Marin County. From the dam, Nicasio Creek parallels Point Reyes-Petaluma Road westward until it empties into Lagunitas Creek.

Novato, California City in California, United States

Novato is a city in northern Marin County, in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 51,904. Novato is located about 10 miles (16 km) northwest of San Rafael and about 30 miles (48 km) north of San Francisco on U.S. 101. Novato has been called one of the best places to live in the U.S.

Skywalker Ranch architectural structure

Skywalker Ranch is a movie ranch and workplace of film director, writer and producer George Lucas located in a secluded, yet open area near Nicasio, California, in Marin County. The ranch is located on Lucas Valley Road, named for an early-20th-century landowner in the area, no relation to George Lucas. The Ranch is not open to the public and keeps a low profile from the road. A gated road leads to the ranch.

Nicasio, California Census designated place in California, United States

Nicasio is a census designated place in Marin County, California. It is located 8 miles (13 km) west-southwest of Novato, at an elevation of 194 feet.


Before Seeger Dam presented an impassable barrier to anadromous fish passage, Nicasio Creek supported half of the steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) spawning populations in the Lagunitas Creek watershed. By blockage and inundation the dam reduced by 50 percent of the salmon and steelhead populations entering Lagunitas Creek watershed. Author and landscape artist Russell Chatham wrote, "One of the most tragic sights I ever beheld was the year after Nicasio Dam blocked that critical watershed. An uncountable number of silvers, between 10,000 and 15,000, crowded into the mile from the gravel company to the base of the dam. They were so thick that many were forced out onto the banks, where they died without spawning." [8] For mitigation the Marin Municipal Water District initialled trapped inbound coho below the dam and transported them above the dam, but by 1991 only 20 pairs of coho returned to spawn and none reached the trapping site below the dam. In addition, because the dam blocks sediment transport, there is a lack of suitable spawning gravel in the lower mile below the dam for spawning. Most spawning in the Lagunitas Creek watershed now takes place in San Geronimo Creek, an unregulated tributary, and the region immediately downstream of its confluence with Lagunitas Creek. [9]

Coho salmon species of fish

The coho salmon is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family, one of the several species of Pacific salmon. Coho salmon are also known as silver salmon or "silvers". The scientific species name is based on the Russian common name kizhuch (кижуч).

Russell Chatham is a contemporary American landscape artist and author who spent most of his career living in Livingston, Montana. The artist is the grandson of landscape painter Gottardo Piazzoni, though he is essentially a self-taught artist. His work has been exhibited in over 400 one man shows and in museums and galleries over the last five decades. Notable art critic Robert Hughes is numbered one of Chatham's collectors and there are others as diverse as Paul Allen and actor Jack Nicholson. Chatham's work eschews the narrative tendency of much western art and presents landscapes that stand in intimate relationship towards the human figure even in the absence of it. In the early 1980s Chatham began making lithographs and now stands as one of the world's foremost practitioners of that craft.

A river otter (Lontra canadensis) was collected by the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the southwest corner of Nicasio Reservoir in January, 2008. [10]


There are at least two bridges spanning Nicasio Creek. Point Reyes-Petaluma Road crosses the creek in two places: once 3.47 miles (5.58 km) east of State Route 1 on a 133-foot (41 m) concrete continuous tee beam constructed in 1960, and again 3.2 miles (5.1 km) east of State Route 1 on a 102-foot (31 m) concrete tee beam built in 1937. [11]

Related Research Articles

Nicasio Reservoir

Nicasio Reservoir is a shallow, artificial reservoir in the Nicasio Valley region of Marin County, California, United States. It covers 845 acres (3.42 km2) and sits in a 35.9 square miles (93 km2) drainage basin. It was created by the construction of Seeger Dam on the Nicasio Creek in 1961. Seeger Dam is a 115-foot (35 m) tall, 400-foot (120 m) long earthen dam owned by the Marin Municipal Water District.

Petaluma River river in California

The Petaluma River is a river in the California counties of Sonoma and Marin that becomes a tidal slough for the majority of its length. The headwaters are in the area southwest of Cotati. The flow is generally southward through Petaluma's old town, where the waterway becomes navigable, and then flows another 10 mi (16 km) through tidal marshes before emptying into the northwest corner of San Pablo Bay.

San Francisquito Creek river in the United States of America

San Francisquito Creek is a creek that flows into southwest San Francisco Bay in California, United States. Historically it was called the Arroyo de San Francisco by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776. San Francisquito Creek courses through the towns of Portola Valley and Woodside, as well as the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and East Palo Alto. The creek and its Los Trancos Creek tributary define the boundary between San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

Redwood Creek (Marin County) river in United States of America

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San Geronimo Creek is a stream in Marin County, California, United States, which feeds into Lagunitas Creek below Kent Lake.

Walker Creek (Marin County, California)

Walker Creek is a northwest-flowing stream in western Marin County, California, United States. It originates at the confluence of Salmon Creek and Arroyo Sausal and empties into Tomales Bay south of Dillon Beach, California.

SPAWN, the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, is a project of the Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN), a United States 501(c)(3) nonprofit environmental organization.

José Calistro was the last chief of the Coast Miwok community who resided at Rancho Nicasio, which was once a Native American rancho that stretched from present-day Nicasio, California to Tomales Bay.

Searsville Dam

Searsville Dam is a masonry dam in San Mateo County, California that was completed in 1892, one year after the founding of Stanford University, and impounds Corte Madera Creek to form a reservoir known as Searsville Lake. Searsville Dam is located in the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and is owned and operated by Stanford University. Neighboring cities include Woodside and Portola Valley, California.

The Marin Municipal Water District is the government agency that provides drinking water to southern and central Marin County, California. Chartered in 1912, it became California's first municipal water district.It is notorious for its current heavy disrimination against mountain bikes, despite being the birthplace of the sport. It serves 195,000 people in a 147-square-mile (380 km2) area that includes ten towns and cities.

Corte Madera Creek (Marin County, California) river in United States of America

Corte Madera Creek is a short stream which flows southeast for 4.5 miles (7.2 km) in Marin County, California. Corte Madera Creek is formed by the confluence of San Anselmo Creek and Ross Creek in Ross and entering a tidal marsh at Kentfield before connecting to San Francisco Bay near Corte Madera.

Corte Madera Creek (San Mateo County, California) river in the United States of America

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San Anselmo Creek river in the United States of America

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Scott Creek (Santa Cruz County)

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San Felipe Creek is a 14 miles (23 km) stream that originates in the western Diablo Range in Santa Clara County, California. It flows south by southeast through two historic ranchos, Rancho Los Huecos and Rancho Cañada de San Felipe y Las Animas before it joins Las Animas Creek just above Anderson Reservoir. One of the nine major tributaries of Coyote Creek, the creek’s waters pass through the Santa Clara Valley and San Jose on the way to San Francisco Bay.

Chileno Creek

Chileno Creek is a stream in western Marin County, California, United States. It originates west of Petaluma, California at 220-acre Laguna Lake which straddles Marin and Sonoma Counties, from which it flows west 6.25 kilometres (3.88 mi) before joining Walker Creek, a tributary of Tomales Bay.


  1. 1 2 3 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Nicasio Creek
  2. U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed March 9, 2011
  3. Erwin Gustav Gudde (1960). California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names. University of California Press. pp. 3–. GGKEY:403N5Z6QERG.
  4. Jack Mason, 1971, Early Marin, Petaluma: House of Printing, pp.70-76
  5. United States. District Court (California : Northern District)Land Case 404 ND
  6. Douglas (Dewey) Livingston (1989). Hamlet 1844-1988 A History of "Jensen's Oyster Beds" (PDF). Point Reyes National Park Service. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  7. Case Study Report #37 Nicasio Lake Nicasio Creek (PDF) (Report). CalFed Water. 1977. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  8. Russell Chatham (December 24, 2014). "Myths about coho and Marin County's watersheds". Point Reyes Light. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  9. Larry R. Brown, Peter B. Moyle (July 1, 1991). Status of Coho Salmon in California (PDF) (Report). National Marine Fisheries Service. Retrieved December 27, 2017.
  10. "Lontra canadensis brevipilosus". Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  11. "National Bridge Inventory Database".

See also