- Hope you've enjoyed the nice weather and got out on the water this weekend! Storm's coming in fast. Photo: M. Wier.… https://t.co/u6a4k7A9KJ ->
- #Flyfishing film fest this Wednesday! Buy tix: https://t.co/z9YJ4SjuOB @VenturingAngler @LCOFlyFishing #Eastbay… https://t.co/iVg8D5LjGw ->
- Behind the scenes w/ field reporter & videographer Mike Wier, shooting for new film on CalTrout's #SoCal #steelhead… https://t.co/5sgImCOjez ->
- #CAwater is variable & limited, often pitting agriculture vs environment, esp. fish. Hear both sides: https://t.co/6X3ENXT7Kk #WorldWaterDay ->
The Eel River is staged for a comeback. And CalTrout is leading the way to accomplish this. We hope you enjoyed our five-part video series where we shared our headwaters-to-sea approach for returning the Eel River to its historic abundance. Our comprehensive plans include restoring the estuary, ensuring adequate flows for fish, removing barriers, and engaging in the Potter Valley Project dam relicensing process. We’re thrilled that our video series garnered so much attention. Check them out on CalTrout’s vimeo page if you missed them.
As part of our campaign, we were curious to hear from our supporters about their time spent on the Eel River. We know it’s a special place for many people, anglers, wildlife enthusiasts, hikers, and families looking for fun on the river. After hearing our story about the Eel, we asked folks to submit their own. Here are some of our favorite submissions. Enjoy! (To learn more about our Eel River project go to caltrout.org/eel)
Last summer my friends and I walked the entire coastline of California from Oregon to Mexico on the California Coastal Trail. In the rugged and wild north coast, we had to figure out how to cross many river mouths, including the place where the Eel River meets the sea. Routing inland to the road bridge would have added dozens of miles to our journey, so we were really hoping to find another way across. Luckily, Jens and Tyrone of Mad River Tackle offered to take us across in their boat. We marveled at the clear water and the seals hauling out on the shore.
The next day, we made the strenuous climb up Wildcat ridge to avoid the treacherous coastline at False Cape. We were rewarded with sweeping views to the north, over forested ridges and down to the bright blue mouth of the Eel River.
My Father grew up under the shadow of the Redwood giants and fished the beautiful veins of life that coursed between them. He himself has seen the abundance that once was, and always says, “If I knew then; if we knew then, what we do now”. He says, “it didn’t always used to be this way.” To me, abundance has a negative connotation. Growing up and being attached to the outdoors and fly fishing, everything in abundance I’ve known was taken advantage of, farmed to near extinction, or reaped for all its worth and left to die. The only abundance I’ve known are from the stories my Father has told me.
But, there is hope.
We can still connect to the wild, and I can be a part of something that is free and abundant once more. There is hope on the horizon and a wonderful group of people working to protect and care for the Eel.
I look at #myeelstory in this way; before I was born part of the story was already open and inked, but there is the rest of the story waiting to be continued. We are at the point of knowing what we know now. The rest of #myeelstory has yet to be written and if I want the next chapter to be better than the last, responsibility falls on me and my fellow anglers.
All I know now is fishing for one of the toughest fish to catch, the hardest way is something I love to do. There’s something special about swinging a fly for Steelhead and Salmon under the shadows of the same majestic trees my Father grew up underneath. I’m just need to be in the right place at the right time when the children’s children, of the fish my Father used to catch, happens to be swimming by.
One day, maybe I’ll be able to tell my own child abundance is a special thing, and it didn’t always used to be this way. It’s up to you and I to protect and cherish abundance. That way, your children and their children can swing a fly under the shadows of Redwoods my Father once did; through a river with abundant, wild, and free runs.
Born and raised in Laytonville, my earliest memories of the Eel were trips over Dos Rios Road in search of deep blue pools of cold water to escape the summer heat. Small sandy beaches surrounded by plenty of rocks to jump from, it was by far one of my favorite summer activities. Little did I know that I was in the beginning stages of what would become a long, and meaningful relationship with what I call my home river. Although I didn’t see the Eel under the same light as I do now, there was an unspoken respect and pride I had for it. I now realize that, although unforeseen in early childhood, those early memories would blossom into great respect and admiration for this one-of-a-kind river. My views of the river during childhood were somewhat naive. I viewed it as an untouched wilderness, unaware of its history. I didn’t think much of its future, just as I didn’t think much of its past, it was just there and what it was. Until I was ten years old, we lived on the banks of Ten Mile creek. In winter months, no more than 200 feet from the house, we would watch salmon that seemed as big as ourselves in search of their spawning grounds. Seeing fish that size, that close, was seared into my memory.
Being somewhat distracted in high school, the Eel still served as a place to have fun. Every now and then the trout rod would be taken along. Having spent plenty of time fishing trout in other places, I treated the Eel like a summer trout stream, not with any real expectations but because it seemed like the right thing to do. River = fish. At this point I can’t say I was an informed fisherman, just a kid with a fishing pole. There wasn’t much talk around this time about fishing the eel , it seemed like it was viewed as damaged, or broken. It wasn’t until I headed northbound for college at College of The Redwoods (2003) that I started to learn about the Eel, among other local rivers like the Mattole, and Mad. My perspective started to radically change from blissfully ignorant to concern. This also coincided with my interest to want to do more salmon/steelhead fishing. As my knowledge for the Eel River’s history of abuse grew, my appreciation for it grew as well. Having spent so much time with the Eel growing up, I wondered why there wasn’t more talk about it. Maybe there was and I wasn’t hearing it, or maybe people’s passion for it was dwindling from years of hardship. Nonetheless, my journey was just taking off. After college I spent a lot of time fishing. Mainly after trout with a 5 weight fly rod, I traveled in search of cutthroats in the Bitterroot, and Flathead Rivers of Montana. Also stopping in to fish the Salmon River in Idaho. I traveled north to Washington’s Cowlits River for Steelhead. I made countless trips to more local streams like Hat Creek, Carson River, Sacramento River, and the Trinity River searching for Trout. With each trip my thirst to explore grew. Something was growing inside of me that craved more trees, mountains, wildlife, and the best way to bridge the gap between myself and nature. It’s as if growing up in the beauty of Mendocino county, inspired my hunger to find other beautiful, and wild places. A feeling I’ve come to really enjoy as well, is coming home. Each time with more love, and appreciation for how special places like the Eel River are. Through things like backpacking and fishing, I’ve found a way to bridge that gap. Lately I’ve spent a lot of time supporting and fishing the Eel.
The idea of the Eel returning to abundance is exciting, and I have so much respect for people fighting for the Eel. I’ve talked to old timers who reminisce on the Eel River’s glory days. They talk about a river that I’ve never seen. My generation has built its respect on a river with far less fish. But instead of complaining I get more ambitious, more devoted to the chase. Thank you CalTrout!
From Dan Casas:
Following in the footsteps of my grandparents, and their parents before them, I savor the Eel River and our family’s history with that river and others in the Six Rivers National Forest. My grandmother, Esther, was born and raised on the Eel River at Camp Grant, just over the hill from South Fork, appropriately named as it is located on the South Fork Eel River. My great grandfather lost his ranch in the big flood of ’64, although his son stayed and farmed his ranch along the South Fork. I recently talked about the Eel in the 60s with an uncle who taught at a local school. He said that he would stop on the way home from school and catch a steelhead trout or salmon within 5-10 minutes. Those were the days! I make at least one or two trips from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Eel River every winter in search of the elusive steelhead, camping among the giant redwoods that inundate the landscape along the Eel. Although not familiar with all places on Earth, I suspect that the forks of the Eel River and the watershed landscape are unique and as beautiful as it gets. The more help I can give to turn back the clock and make the Eel closer to what it used to be, with salmon and steelhead thriving, the better.
Born and raised in San Francisco I’ve always felt like a city girl with a rural soul. My hippy parents had bought some land with friends in Willits in the 60’s. As a kid we would drive up along Highway 101 from San Francisco to Willits regularly. I would always get excited when we hit the Russian River along the way. But it was when I was in high school that we made the trip up that way with a purpose. We headed up to Fortuna for Redwoodstock – the final protest and celebration of the end of Redwood Summer – a peaceful anti-logging action. A couple years later I was driving that route on my own back and forth from my home in SF to College up in Arcata at Humboldt State. Stopping along the Eel River and resting in the deep shade of the Redwoods, or dipping my feet in the cold waters, has always been nourishment and inspiration for my spirit. And since then I have driven across the country many times and still consider that route on 101 along the Eel River to be the most beautiful drive of them all. I am still not settled, currently living in Novato, CA. But I would not be surprised if I found myself someday planting my roots somewhere close to the Eel River. It seems to be a part of my personal topography.
- RT @BrianStranko: CA needs 21st century #Cawater solutions for #flood & #cadrought: partnered w @CalTrout– @sacbee_news https://t.co/hNRiEW… ->
- RT @VenturingAngler: Join the Five Rivers Challenge to Benefit CalTrout
https://t.co/eDTySKBAOz @CalTrout #flyfishing ->
- RT @farmwater: Applaud @CalTrout @Conserve_CA Cooperation on #cawater holistic policy that helps all Urban, farm, enviro #cadrought https:/… ->
- RT @BrianStranko: Proud of our @Conserve_CA #Water team and partners @CalTrout @tu_cal for securing water grants! https://t.co/eJGs2vDWND… ->
- Upgrade #CAwater's system & #workwithnature. Let #floodplains flood again. ❤️ #YoloBypass https://t.co/ywr3lW8RLt #Orovilledam #watercrisis ->
- "One river that never seems to go away is the #McCloud. Imagine what it might have looked like before the dams chan… https://t.co/yJqH7AHzDo ->
- Program Mgr Candice Meneghin discusses endangered #SoCal #steelhead & how to balance needs of #fish & people https://t.co/kr3WN0Vyu0 @vcstar ->
- THURS 1st showing #FlyFishing Film Fest. Buy tix https://t.co/z9YJ4SjuOB or at door #BayArea #Marin @LCOFlyFishing… https://t.co/kOTibiT1xU ->
- 2 more weeks for Humboldt @SteelheadDays fishing contest! 3 winners on 3 rivers: Mad, Trinity & Eel. $1000 prize!… https://t.co/JEMXPlrzvJ ->
Southern California steelhead are survivors. Unlike their Northern California cousins, they have adapted to seasonally dry streams in the arid climate at the extreme southern end of the steelhead range. Tens of thousands of these prized sport fish used to return to Southern California streams every year, but now they’re stopped by dams and water diversions, urban development, and livestock grazing. These impacts have decimated southern steelhead runs, and today, only a few hundred of the iridescent fish make their yearly spawning pilgrimage.
The recovery of these endangered fish is the focus of many of our projects operated out of California Trout’s Southern California offices. We are leading collaborations of non-profit organizations, government resource agencies, and interested stakeholders through our Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition and the South Coast Steelhead Coalition which covers Orange and San Diego counties. These coalitions execute a multitude of projects dedicated to Southern California steelhead recovery, such as drafting recovery plans, watershed restoration, infrastructure improvement projects to remove barriers hindering fish passage, water quality testing, and public education and engagement.
Balancing the needs of fish and people in California is a challenge. It is imperative that we “figure out how to support essential human activity while also protecting critical water flows and providing fish passage. Today, nowhere is this tension more acute than along our South Coast”, as stated by our Southern California Conservation Programs Manager, Candice Meneghin, in an article to the Ventura County Star.
We highly encourage you to read Candice’s article where she discusses more about the plight of the southern steelhead and what CalTrout and other partners are doing about it.
⇒ Forging the Future of Steelhead, Ventura County Star
As we learn more about Congress and the State’s focus on building more dams, CalTrout remains invested in finding better solutions, ones that involve working with nature, rather than against it. How can we accomplish this? Allow floodplains to live up to their name and flood. Prime example is the Yolo Bypass which plays a vital role in flood protection from the city of Sacramento. Several times this winter, floodwaters were diverted onto the Yolo floodplain, keeping Sacramento residents safe and dry. During times of intense rain, floodwaters can be diverted onto the floodplain, mimicking the natural and historical purpose of the floodplains.
Reconnecting rivers to their floodplains is a win-win-win situation. Over-pumped groundwater aquifers are recharged, habitat is restored for waterbirds and fish, and more reservoir storage becomes available with dam operators able to release more water during floods.
What’s not to love?
In the face of a changing climate, aging water infrastructure, and conflicting goals, this situation is becoming increasingly critical. It is very clear, especially in the wake of the crisis at Oroville dam: California’s water system is overdue for an upgrade. Continuing our heavy reliance on “grey” infrastructure will not be able to meet California’s future water needs (as it hasn’t with our past and current needs).
Jacob Katz, CalTrout’s Central Valley Senior Scientist, reviewed this topic in a brilliant op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee, written in conjunction with Brian Stranko, Director of the Nature Conservancy’s California Water Program:
Our Nigiri Project in the Central Valley demonstrates our love for floodplains and the Yolo Bypass. We’ve validated that California’s floodplains can work for both fish AND farms. When water is slowed down and spread out across agricultural fields (i.e., historic floodplains that sit dormant in the winter) a bug buffet is created. Learn more about the project here or watch our small film about a big idea, No Going Back.
- #MyEelStory from Dustin Decker: "Seeing fish that size, that close, was seared into my memory", from childhood in L… https://t.co/8XEjmUGUpl ->
- Your heard our #EelRiver story, how it will #returntoabundance. Now let's hear yours. #MyEelStory or submit at… https://t.co/yMNeia0LiH ->
- Feb. Streamkeeper's bLog "Drowning or dying of thirst" https://t.co/8X1xtPdAzt #Californiawater #CalTrout https://t.co/KGLQCjR6eL ->
- Join CalTrout at the 2017 International Fly Fishing Film Festival – https://t.co/yqEn0b23U7 #flyfishing #keepemwet… https://t.co/cHMRwkhf91 ->
- Sign you & your friends up for an epic fishing challenge this summer in NorCal's wild trout waters https://t.co/f1r0t3DKji #5RiversChallenge ->
- Join us for the 5 Rivers Challenge on CA's wild trout waters #flyfishing https://t.co/agSUuM8nwj @ClearwaterLodge… https://t.co/c731aOr1u3 ->
- Support designation of OR's NF Smith as Outstanding Resource Waters to protect from mining. https://t.co/FLRlrZIJ6K https://t.co/WJGxkEU3pr ->
- North Fork Smith final push for protection – https://t.co/DKLvpzNOeL ->
- #ICYMI CalTrout's North Coast Director Darren Mierau on @905KHSU EcoNews talking about #EelRiver recovery plan. Hos… https://t.co/gTzmRyq5os ->
- Low flows on #FeatherRiver after #Oroville spillway closed. Big thanks to rescuers for hard work @CaliforniaDFW https://t.co/Yf0xDwwco7 ->
On February 7th-10th, 2017 California Trout, with support from partners, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and the CA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, organized the third Sierra Meadows Workshop at Mayacamas Ranch in Calistoga, California. Over the three days, there were approximately 70 workshop attendees representing more than 20 different State and Federal, non-profit environmental, academic and private consulting agencies.
The purpose of the workshop was to continue to build a broader meadows partnership with a focus on (1) how restoration affects greenhouse gas dynamics and the potential for developing a payment for ecosystem services market through Climate, Community, Biodiversity (CCB) credits and (2) implementation of the newly completed Sierra Meadow Strategy to increase the pace, scale and efficacy of meadow restoration in the greater Sierra.
The first day’s discussions and presentations focused on updates on the research being done to quantify the potential carbon sequestration of restored meadow systems as well as a proposed road map towards CCB accreditation. Days two and three were dedicated to actuating the actions and goals of the Sierra Meadows Strategy, a document recently completed by the Sierra Meadows Partnership to serve as guidance for practitioners, land-managers, funders and policy-makers. To view the workshop agenda and minutes, click here.
The Sierra Meadows Strategy V 1.0 can be viewed here.
Outcomes of the workshop include (1) an understanding of the status and findings of GHG quantification in Sierra meadows projects, (2) a “Roadmap” to developing Climate, Community, Biodiversity standards for accreditation, (3) renewed and formalized (MOU) support for the Sierra Meadows Strategy and (4) working groups and action plans to implement the Approaches in the Strategy to move toward the goal of 30,000 acres of meadows conserved in the Sierra by 2030.
The workshop was very supportive in continuing and increasing momentum for meadow restoration in the Sierra along with the strengthening of an ongoing partnership. Click here to learn more about CalTrout’s Sierra Headwaters Keystone Initiative and the efforts to restore Sierra meadows.
To access presentations, photos and annotated agendas from all 3 Meadows Workshops click here.
- New era of #dams & #cawater infrastructure needed to address public safety, energy & fish passage concerns.… https://t.co/cVUpzmNmD6 ->
- "Working with nature rather than against it is much safer and much more profitable." J. Katz CalTrout #cawater… https://t.co/nBcxfatiEi ->
- Court finds letting #cawater flow down natural course is "appropriate measure" to support salmon. Imagine that. https://t.co/lrlTsCByKT ->
- You've heard our Return to Abundance story. You've heard the Eel's story. Now share your story. #MyEelStory… https://t.co/9C6lrAw971 ->
- "This is a great time to be a fish in the Central Valley," CalTrout senior scientist Jacob Katz #cawater… https://t.co/troAIp0JwG ->
With the onslaught of storms across California, much attention has been focused on the safety and reliability of our aging dams and water infrastructure. It also has dam advocates calling for more surface storage to catch all this water before it’s “flushed out to sea.” Reporter Carolyn Lochhead in today’s San Francisco Chronicle looks at how “Dams remain in line for bulk of funding over cheaper alternatives.”
Just downstream from Oroville Dam, the article states, lies “one of the state’s oldest, cheapest and simplest flood control devices is performing brilliantly. The Feather River’s raging floodwaters that damaged Oroville’s two spillways and led to the evacuation of 188,000 people have now spread out across a peaceful, shallow lake called the Yolo Bypass, operated by a simple weir, and are now recharging the aquifer. It is attracting birds and brimming with salmon, smelt and other endangered fish.”
Lochhead spoke with California Trout’s Central Valley Senior Scientist Jacob Katz who shared this perspective,
What the crisis at Oroville Dam really makes clear is that a system made out of concrete, to rigidly confine and constrain nature, is always going to be brittle. People have been so focused on concrete that it’s taken a long time to realize that working with nature rather than against it is much safer and much more profitable.”
In addition to pointing out the benefits of natural water storage such as the Yolo Bypass, the article highlights many of the drawbacks to dams. “Dams store a lot of water and control floods, but they also have big drawbacks, many of which were poorly understood when the state’s existing structures were built. By blocking rivers, dams are ruinous to fish and other wildlife, and impair the recharge of downstream aquifers. Evaporation losses are high and getting higher as temperatures warm. Dams have limited lifespans and are extremely expensive.”
CalTrout recently wrote about this very topic – the lifecycle of dams, and profiled three dam removal/evaluation projects we’re involved with in The Current. You can read that story here.
To read the full San Francisco Chronicle story click here.