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“Unseen Marin County: The Waterways of San Rafael and Fairfax"

“Unseen Marin County: The Waterways of San Rafael and Fairfax” is California author and photographer Marques Vickers’ visual examination of five streams in northern Marin County. Over 70 color images portray the routings of the Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve and Las Gallinas, San Rafael, Fairfax and Sleepy Hollow Creeks. The creeks that eminently flow throughout Marin County are important draining outlets originating from the elevated mountain ranges that frame the skeleton of the region. Each creek becomes an important tributary that ultimately empties into the San Francisco Bay.

The Coastal Miwok tribe inhabited the region for hundreds of years harvesting and gathering crops, hunting and fishing for salmon and steelhead trout. Their lands stretched from Marin to southern Sonoma county and Bodega Bay. European diseases with the Spanish establishment of Missions San Francisco de Asis and San Rafael decimated the native population. Following Mexican independence, the missions were closed and the lands divided into two prominent land grants. Over the subsequent two centuries, the region would evolve into upscale suburban enclaves with Mount Tamalpais looming prominently in the background.

Las Gallinas Creek
The Las Gallinas Creek begins in the hills of Terra Linda and continues skirting along the periphery of San Rafael. The south fork then passes under an overpass of Interstate Highway 101 and enters the Gallinas Watershed. The water then follows into the Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve.

The Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve
The Santa Venetia Marsh Preserve is a 33-acre salt marsh surrounded by a levee. The region is part of the Las Gallinas creek delta watershed that drains the Terra Linda valleys. The marsh was diked and filled in the early 1900s when the adjacent area was leveled for development. The surrounding area is now a patchwork of channels, marshland and flood control areas inhabited by a diverse array of birds and animals.

San Rafael Creek
San Rafael Creek originates within the downtown before passing under an overpass on Interstate Highway 101. The creek then widens into a causeway lined on both sides by commercial constructions and the Municipal Yacht Harbor. Residential structures replace commercial and the creek passes the Marin Yacht Club to the north. Expanding further, the waters flow into San Rafael Bay, which empties into the San Francisco Bay.

Fairfax Creek
Fairfax Creek is one of the few Marin water bodies that does not empty into one of the larger streams at its termination. The creek commences near the Loma Alta Open Space Preserve. It continues eastward weaving into downtown Fairfax where it ends.

Sleepy Hollow Creek
Sleepy Hollow Creek begins adjacent to Butterfield Road in San Anselmo and traces the roadway in the southeasterly direction before spilling into San Anselmo Creek just south of Sir Francis Drake High School.

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