Illegal pot grows spoil North Coast

All indications are an initiative to legalize marijuana will go to the California voters in the fall of 2016. CalTrout is working ahead of this initiative to guide water-management regulation of this booming agricultural sector.

As such, we support Assemblyman Jim Wood’s (D-Healdsburg) bill, AB 243 that addresses the environmental problems created by medical marijuana farms.  For more about the bill, read Assemblyman Wood’s Op-Ed in the Sacramento Bee.

For nearly 20 years, we have allowed the medical marijuana industry to go largely unregulated. We have kicked the can down the road for too long. We must act now to protect the environment and protect our water for future generations.

– Assemblyman Wood

2nd Annual Humboldt Steelhead Days


hsd logo

California Trout and partner organization, Mad River Alliance are hosting Humboldt Steelhead Days, a 2-week celebration of Steelhead spawned in the cold clean waters of California’s north coast.

Register online for Humboldt Steelhead Days and be eligible to win more than $3,000 in cash & prizes!

Prizes include: Thule Roof Racks, Amerigas Crab Pots and Burners, Cabela’s Fly Rods, All Kinds of Fishing Gear from RMI Outdoors, Pacific Outfitters and Mckinleyville Ace Home & Garden Center, a $400 Guided Drift Boat Trip with Kenny Priest of Fishing the North Coast and a $400 Guided Drift Boat Trip with Micah Woolworth from Rivers Edge Fishing, Kokatat Personal Floatation Devices and more to come!

With your ticket: Entry to Awards Dinner ($25 value) catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ and featuring award-winning Mad River Brewing Co’s Steelhead Extra Pale Ale.

You’ll also receive FREE one-year memberships to Mad River Alliance and California Trout ($70 value) and entrance to all the Mad River Family Fun Day’s fishing workshops on Saturday, Jan 24 at the Blue Lake Business Park.


Humboldt County Registration Outlets: Mad River Bait & Tackle, Arcata, RMI Outdoors (formerly Redwood Marine) in Eureka, Pacific Outfitters (Arcata & Eureka) and Grundmans Sporting Goods in Rio Dell.

* This two week family-fun fishing event encourages participants to get outside, learn about our watersheds, and to fish both the Mad River and the Eel River for either hatchery steelhead in the Mad, or wild steelhead in the Eel. (You don’t have to participate for the full two-weeks, you can fish for one day, two days, etc., It’s up to you!)


For more info, visit Mad River Alliance or California Trout or visit our Mad River Alliance Facebook page for up to date information on this Humboldt event!

You can also register by mail or email to:
Mad River Alliance at P.O. Box 1252, Blue Lake, CA 95525
or email:


Friday, Jan. 23 @ 6pm – 9pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Kick Off Party at Mad River Brewing Company‘s Tap Room
Last minute sign-ups, meet the competition, raffle & prizes!

Saturday, Jan. 24 @ 7am (Free with HSD ticket)
Fishing contests begin at 7am Saturday Jan. 24 & runs till 5 pm on Feb. 7
• Catch & keep a hatchery steelhead fishing contest on the Mad River
(map & boundaries can be emailed to you)
• Catch & release steelhead fishing contest on the Eel River
(map & boundaries can be emailed to you)
** Note: The Eel River is a catch & release river and the wild steelhead should be photographed in the water. Anglers should avoid taking fish out of the water if they can. Please revive your fish before releasing them.

Saturday, Jan. 24 @ 1pm – 4pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Mad River Family Fun Day in the Blue Lake Business Park
• Learn how to rig for steelhead like a pro
• Learn humane catch & release techniques from Shane Anderson
• Family Fun Fish tales for toddlers and Fish themed music
• Arts & crafts throughout the day for the kids
• Redwood Edventures Quests Take the kids on a scavenger hike through the Redwoods.
Then win a prize at the end!

Saturday, Jan. 24 @  7:30pm – 9:30pm
Carlo Theater, Dell Arte Building
Family friendly variety show and “Fish Tales 2,” cabaret show hosted by Dell’ Arte International.
Tickets for this event: Adults $10, Kids $5.

Saturday, Feb. 7 @ 6pm – 10pm (Free with HSD ticket)
Wharfinger Building near the Public Pier in Eureka
Awards & Tri-Tip Dinner ($25 value!) catered by Blackberry Bramble BBQ
Keynote Speaker: Mikey Wier is a Patagonia fly fishing ambassador and the owner of Burl Productions, his video production business.
Prizes & Awards  • Local Microbrews from Mad River Brewing Co • Steelhead Slideshow • Steelhead Vineyards Wine


Other fun events to attend during Humboldt Steelhead Days:

January 30 @ 7pm: 
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Arcata Theater Lounge.
Tickets $20 — $5 student discount and $5 Humboldt Steelhead Days ticket discount at door.
January 31 @ 12pm: 
Presentation on Salmon and Steelhead in the Eel River at the Redwoods State Park Interpretive Center on Ave of Giants near Weott.
January 31 @ at 5pm: 
Presentation on Salmon and Steelhead in the Eel River, Fish Tacos, and a Raffle at the Monday Club in Fortuna.
February 6 @ 6pm:
Friends of the Arcata Marsh sponsored talk “Arcata Marsh – The History of a Salmonid Fish Hatchery” at the Arcata Marsh Interpretive Center.

Bridge Creek — Not Your Usual Fish Passage Project

CalTrout and Partners Complete Barrier Removal at Bridge Creek

Along the mainstem of the Eel River about 35 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Bridge Creek drains its watershed into the famous Holmes Hole, a gigantic pool guarded by towering sandstone walls and deep water that annually provides safe haven for thousands of adult salmon and steelhead on their way up river to their natal spawning grounds.

For many decades, those fish have been blocked from migrating into Bridge Creek by the North Western Pacific Railroad crossing, which long ago erected a 45 foot high earthen dam and culvert system through which no adult fish could ever pass.

Now, this barrier is gone.

And, not only is Bridge Creek able to flow freely to the Eel River once again, but the project has revealed a rather unique geologic feature at the creek-river confluence, exhumed after lying buried under railroad fill for decades. Sandstone cliffs, mirroring those at the Holmes pool carved by the Eel River, also rise high along the lower reaches of Bridge Creek. Incredibly, these cliffs were buried by the construction of the railroad, and no one could remember what lay hidden under the mound of dirt.

Bridge Lower Channel 3

Lower channel of Bridge Creek

CalTrout and our partners have completed the construction phase of the Bridge Creek Fish Passage Project. Following several years spent lining up funding and support from the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA), and another year finalizing construction plans, the project was launched into construction early this summer. Project funding comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Restoration Grants Program and the State Coastal Conservancy, with a small share of costs, and tons of determination, coming from our project partners. In addition to our funders, the Bridge Creek project has received unanimous support from the NCRA board, and engineering oversight from the NCRA and National Marine Fisheries Service engineers. From start to finish, the project has been in the capable hands of Pacific Watershed Associates (PWA) and our construction contractor Ryan Rice Construction.

Many technical aspects challenge a project of this scale, such as deconstructing and stockpiling railroad tracks and wooden ties, re-routing the creek and diverting dirty water away from the Eel, and removing trees and vegetation. But the biggest task for this project was simply moving dirt, tons of it. Excavators and dump trucks toiled for more than eleven weeks, removing layers of fill foot-by-foot. In total, more than 55,000 yards of dirt were removed and stockpiled safely along the railroad line. That’s a mere 2,750 truck-loads (more or less) using a gigantic 20-yard off-road dump truck. With the dirt-moving complete, construction crews worked to re-create a natural Bridge Creek stream channel and banks, and a new confluence with the Eel River. Large wood logs and boulders will be placed back on the streambed to armor the bed, along with extensive erosion control measures to minimize winter erosion.

Bridge Creek from mouth of Eel River

Bridge Creek from mouth of Eel River

Now we wait for the fish to arrive.

We would like to acknowledge the invaluable support from private landowners, Jack Rice and his family, as well as the Humboldt Redwood Company, for their willingness to allow this project on their properties.

We will let you know when that first fish arrives in Bridge Creek.

AB – 504 “Frankenfish” Bill Signed By Gov. Brown

Governor Brown on Wednesday signed AB-504, the bill by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) that protects California’s native salmon and steelhead by banning the commercial production of genetically altered (transgenic) non-native salmon.

Salmon and steelhead face a lot of problems in California, ranging from the state and federal mismanagement of northern California reservoirs during the record drought to the Governor’s plan to build two giant peripheral tunnels under the Delta, but one challenge they won’t face here is the threat posed by the commercial hatchery production, cultivation or stocking of transgenic salmonids, or “frankenfish.”

CalTrout would like to thank Assemblymember Chesbro for his decade plus tenure in the state legislature and his steadfast support for salmon and steelhead along the North Coast.  Mr. Chesbro is a true champion of the fish and friend of CalTrout.  He will be missed.

For details on the specifics of AB-504 you can read the full article here.

Mining Company Denied Smith Waters

Earlier this year, the Smith River’s pristine waters faced the threat of a proposed nickel mine in its headwaters. We spoke out in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed in May and asked, through this forum and others, for members to speak out in opposition.

Your voices were heard and, yesterday, the Oregon Water Resources Department denied the application from the Red Flat Nickel Corp, in part due to the overwhelming substantive comments they received from you, the public and public trust agencies. Well done.

Today’s Del Norte Triplicate article states,

The Oregon Water Resources Department denied the application from Red Flat Nickel Corp. to use water for drilling after determining “that the proposed water use will impair or be detrimental to the public interest,” according to the Final Order from OWRD.

While this is indeed great news, the fight to block strip mining from the headwaters of the Smith River is not over. CalTrout and Smith River Alliance will continue to monitor the situation and encourage Oregon and California congressional representatives to secure a mineral withdrawal for the area.

Eel River Conditions Magnify Importance of Restoration

CalTrout’s work to protect and restore the Eel River is multi-faceted, complex and — as evidenced by the recent article in the Press Democrat — more crucial than ever.

In the Eel River Forum, CalTrout’s North Coast Regional Manager, Darren Mierau, is integral in leading the diverse group of stockholders  who are working together to identify and implement priority project to restore the state’s third largest river system.

One of those projects is the Eel River Delta Restoration – Estuary Preserve.  CalTrout is working with The Wildlands Conservancy to restore salmon rearing habitat, riparian function, water quality, and fish passage, while creating a mosaic of pasturelands and natural landscapes to ensure that the Preserve once again functions as an important nursery and habitat for native fish, wildlife, and waterfowl species.

Tomorrow CalTrout is co-hosting an event, along with the Fish Passage Forum and the Pacific Marine and Estuarine Fish Habitat Partnership, to celebrate the Eel River’s designation as a “Waters To Watch”, as well as to bring stakeholders and partners together, review projects, progress, and outcomes of Eel River Delta Restoration.

Download (PDF, Unknown)

No Flow on the Eel River

The Eel River has officially stopped flowing in the lower reach, cutting off migratory fish from their passage to the Ocean as shown in the video below by Eel River Recovery Project.

This year, more than ever, underscores the importance of the work CalTrout is doing in the Eel River drainage to help create multi-agency water management solutions to keep water in the river for fish. 

Click to learn more about CalTrout’s Eel River Restoration Project and Coho Recovery Project and let’s hope the Eel gets some rain soon.

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PacifiCorp Klamath Project Agreement to Lessen Impact of Drought

PacifiCorp, the company supplying power to parts of Oregon, Washington and Northern California, has agreed to release water from its reservoirs to lessen the impact of drought in the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project.

“This proposal is an opportunity to positively contribute to the health of federally listed fish species in Upper Klamath Lake and the Klamath River, supports tribal interests, and will prove beneficial to Project irrigators for the 2014 water year during these critical drought conditions,”  said Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Deputy Regional Director Jason Phillips. 

While the Bureau’s news release does not make clear when any additional Klamath River flow releases will be made to protect adult salmon now moving into the lower river, it is welcome news that the Klamath water users, specifically PacifiCorp, step to the plate to protect these fish. It is especially important that terms of the newly revised Klamath Project biological opinion be followed, even in these difficult drought years.

CalTrout also welcomes Reclamation reconsidering the use of Trinity water if conditions in the lower Klamath deteriorate throughout the remainder of this drought season.

To read the Bureau of Reclamation’s full press release, click here.

Eel River Recovery Work

Yesterday, the Sacramento Bee ran an insightful article on the Eel River, the looming battle for its waters, and the impact water diversions and other factors have had on salmon and steelhead.

At issue is the re-licensing of the river’s (or PG&E’s) Potter Valley Project which includes a mile-long tunnel that began diverting Eel water to the Russian River more than a hundred years ago.  

For insight on the issue, Bee reporter Susan Sward looked at three other water battles across the state; the Trinity River, Klamath River and Mono Lake. Each of these have had at least one thing in common — CalTrout’s involvement in fighting for adequate flows and a healthy ecosystem for the state’s wild fish populations.  

CalTrout strives for the same goal on the Eel. As the Sac Bee article states:

The potential for consensus on the Eel may exist in the respected Eel River Forum, an effort by CalTrout’s Darren Mierau to bring the affected parties together. The forum’s 22 members include the Sonoma County Water Agency, PG&E, the Potter Valley Irrigation District, Indian tribes, state and federal agencies and environmental groups.

Mierau, CalTrout’s North Coast regional manager, told me: “The river needs help. There is such a great opportunity for a huge recovery of the Eel.”

Read the full story here.

Bridge Creek Project

In other Eel-related news, construction of the half-million dollar Bridge Creek Fish Passage Project began in earnest last week. Over the next several weeks, this project will remove a 200 fo0t section of the North West pacific Railroad Line that runs along the mainstem Eel River near Scotia, CA, along with more than 30,000 cubic yards of the railroad crossing fill materials that has blocked access to coho salmon and steelhead habitat in Bridge Creek for decades.  Progress made includes:

  • installed a temporary stream crossing
  • laid out fish protection and stream dewatering infrastructure (pipes, hoses, etc.)
  • removed approved sections of railroad tracks
  • began removing fill dirt and rock from the railroad embankment, a task that will take several weeks to complete. Lots of dirt to move!

The project will wrap-up late this summer, in time to welcome home salmon and steelhead into Bridge Creek for the first time in many, many years.

Temporary creek crossing

Temporary creek crossing

Train track removal

Train track removal

Save the Smith from Mining

CalTrout let you know earlier this year about a nickel mine being proposed in the headwaters of the Smith River in Oregon. We published an op-ed in May in the San Francisco Chronicle highlighting the threat.

We have now learned of the submission of a water license by the mining company to the Oregon Water Resources Department to extract water from a tributary of the North Fork Smith River.

California’s most pristine river needs your voice now! The Public comment period for this 5-year limited water license is open from June 24 until July 8, 2014.

Click here for the public comment section for the project or email the Oregon Water Resources Director at or phone at 503-986-0900

Dear Director:

The Oregon portion of the North Smith River watershed on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is being targeted for a large nickel mine that would devastate the area for recreation and pollute water for municipalities of California. Proposed test drilling for the nickel mine requires thousands of gallons of water. The Red Flat Nickel Corp (owned by St Peter Port Capital, United Kingdom) applied to Oregon Water Resources Department for a 5-year limited license to take public water from Taylor Creek for industrial mining purposes.

I believe the limited license LL1533 should be denied because the water use would impair one of California’s last remaining salmon and steelhead strongholds. The Smith River is an economically important recreation area and water extraction by the mine would be a detriment to the public interest.

This proposed water diversion is the first of many potential impacts to the Smith River if this strip mine is approved.  The strip mine will also leach toxic metals, increase sediment loads, and result in the accidental release of processing chemicals. 

Smith River is one of California’s premier “Salmon Strongholds”.  The Smith is home to coastal Chinook salmon, steelhead, coho salmon and coastal cutthroat trout.   The Smith is the largest undammed river in California.  The Smith deserves full protection from the threats of strip mines. 

I urge you to protect the Smith River and deny the Red Flat Nickel mine’s application for a 5-year limited license to extract water from the headwaters of the Smith River. 


Red Flat Nickel Corp. plans to drill 35 3-inch diameter holes to a depth of 50 feet to obtain core samples of minerals adjacent to existing roads. The location of the proposed mine is 8 miles east of Gold Beach, Oregon, in the area known as Red Flat within the Hunter Creek and North Fork Pistol River watersheds in the headwaters of the Smith River.

These exploratory mining operations are being reviewed by the Forest Service and there will be a NEPA comment period, anticipated for November 2014.

You can find more information at and clicking on RF-38 Test Drilling #41652.