On September 8th, CalTrout led over 20 participants on a tour of the Eel River Estuary Preserve’s future tidal restoration site. Paddling up the restored Salt River and into the 5-year-old tidal wetland restoration at Riverside Ranch, the tour took them past old fence lines, new wetland vegetation, and through flocks of shorebirds. Mary Burke, CalTrout’s North Coast Program Coordinator shared her thoughts, “this first-hand look at tidal wetland restoration and future habitat for rearing salmonids was inspiring and hopeful for the future of the lower Eel River.”
The tour showcased two major estuary restoration sites and described the full scope of restoration plans in the Eel River. Participants learned about The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) plans for implementation of a 150-acre restoration project that will restore tidal wetland, creating fish passage into the newly restored ecosystem, and reestablishing a historic slough and freshwater creek network to reconnect the vital freshwater-saltwater ecosystem. In addition to habitat restoration, the project will enhance coastal public access – visitors will be able to hike, bike, ride horses and kayak across the Eel River Estuary Preserve to experience nature and conservation first-hand, free of charge.
The Wiyot tribe also described their work studying lamprey as well as sturgeon and their tribal perspective on the Eel River, past, present, and future. Local engineering firm, GHD, which has been involved with CalTrout and TWC in their project as well as the Salt River Restoration project, interpreted the landscape as they paddle up the Salt River and viewed the newly restored Riverside Ranch and Salt River channel.
Afterwards, the participants contributed to invasive species management by removing European beach grass using gear provided by The Wildlands Conservancy. Doing so engaged the paddlers in stewardship of natural resources while assisting in preparation for future habitat restoration.
Thank you to Pacific Outfitters for providing gear for the trip. And special thanks to Eric Stockwell with Loleta Eric’s Guide Service for leading us down the river.