Cannibal Island Restoration

Cannibal Island Restoration

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Project Goal:

Restore the 950-acre tidal marsh estuary surrounding Cannibal Island, adjacent to the mouth of Eel River.

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Project Stages


Relationship Building

Conceptual Design

Permitting Phase


Post Monitoring

Estimated Completion Date:


Project Funders

CDFW Prop 1 & Prop 68 – Watershed Restoration Grant Program

Fish Affected:

Project Description

CalTrout seeks to restore tidal prism, exchange and circulation to benefit coho salmon and other aquatic species in the Eel River estuary on CDFW's 950-acre Cannibal Island Unit. CalTrout is leading a broad, collaborative team of academic, state and federal agency partners to gather data, develop conceptual design alternatives, identify a preferred alternative and develop restoration designs to transform the Study Area from a monotypic landscape of diked/drained salt marsh to a mosaic of pasture and natural habitats. This will include estuarine and tidal slough channels and access for aquatic dependent species. The restoration will also assess climate change resiliency and adaptation approaches to guide an appropriate design which will consider impacts and enhancements to prime agricultural land and critical estuary habitat.

In 2019, this project was awarded $802,886 from the CDFW Prop 1 and Prop 68 funding to conduct the design, development, and environmental compliance phases. Throughout the lower Eel River basin, agricultural lands now dominate what was, historically, forested riparian and wetland habitat. The loss of seasonally freshwater and brackish marsh habitat within the Eel River estuary is an important contributing factor to the decline of coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead.

Estuary restoration will play a prominent role in the recovery of these listed salmonids, as well as Dungeness crab, tidewater goby, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, lamprey and listed native plant and wildlife species found in surveys within the adjacent Salt River and Eel River Estuary Preserve project areas.

The Cannibal Island project offers a valuable opportunity to engage with experts to apply the ASAT, a dynamic assessment and design tool to evaluate restoration alternatives that will increase ecosystem resilience for an assemblage of aquatic listed species.

Project Partners:

Private Landowners
Roscoe and Associates
Graham Matthews and Associates

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