Potter Valley Project Updates, the Best Breakfast in Eureka, and CalTrout’s Leadership role in the North
From Redgie Collins, CalTrout Staff Attorney
Things on the North Coast got a little more interesting this summer. We have been working with Congressman Jared Huffman, Round Valley Indian Tribes, Humboldt County, Sonoma Water Agency, and Mendocino County Inland Water and Power Commission for some time now to find a solution that opens up 150+ miles of salmon and steelhead habitat above Scott Dam in the headwaters of the Eel River. On August 1st, that solution moved one step closer to becoming a reality when our application to be the new licensee for the Potter Valley Project was accepted by FERC, the federal agency with oversight over the project.
Potter Valley has all the hallmarks of a classic CalTrout project: Forging non-traditional partnerships between conservationists, water users and agricultural interests, working through tough water rights questions, restoring essential salmonid habitat, and fighting for a solution that works for fish, water and people.
This project has also resulted in some unusual travel plans and meetings. I’ve snaked along the Eel River East of Willits at dawn, broke bread at a seafood spot for breakfast (check out Gill’s by the Bay if you’re ever in Eureka), had tough meetings at a kitchen table overlooking the Russian River, and once had to appear on a 20-foot screen as a video participant at an important meeting after having to abort a 7:00 AM flight in a small prop plane soon after take-off due to an alternator malfunction!
But this project is worth all the travel, trials and tribulations. CalTrout has taken a leadership position on Potter Valley because of our ability to nimbly take on important projects and staff them with a CalTrout team that includes lawyers, fish biologists, and conservation leaders. We’re extremely excited for this opportunity to develop a holistic solution at Potter Valley that reconfigures the outdated model of costly, arcane hydro with safe long-term alternatives that give salmon unfettered access to the spawning grounds that made California a salmonid paradise.
Over the next 8 months, CalTrout will continue to work with Congressman Huffman, our conservation partners, and all interested stakeholders to prove that there is a solution that works for all interests in the region, without compromising our goals of securing viable and long-term access above Scott Dam on the Eel River.