Virtual Fish Tent: Restoration Priorities


Railway Panel Flood Panel
Dams Panel Lost Habitat Panel
Salmon Lifecycle Restoration – Shifting Priorities
Restoration – A 15 Year Overview Restoration – A Learning Experience

Restoration – Shifting Priorities

Deciding where to spend out watershed restoration dollars is a difficult challenge. There are limited dollars, and there remains a great deal of work to be done to restore the rivers and landscapes to a healthy condition. In addition to the naturally unstable geology, the sub-basins of the Eel have had many years of hard use and abuse. Catastrophic floods, earthquakes, and fires are events to be expected, and there natural events become much more severe in areas under intensive human management

It is critically important for us to rethink the way in which we interact with the landscape. Watershed restoration is the application of this new way of thinking, where humans work to restore the processes that create healthy habitat. Much of this work starts upslope, where roads disrupt natural drainage patterns.Attention to the way roads alter natural hydrologic pattern resources the number of road related landslides, and reduces surface runoff. When rivers are less turbid, fish are able to feed more efficiently, and grow faster. This results in higher return of spawning fish a few years later. The linkage between road runoff and returning fish may seem weak, but it is our ethical responsibility to minimize our impacts on the watershed. If we ignore this responsibility, we will pay the price down the road.

A California Conservation Corp crew working with Bill Matson, Eel River Watershed Improvement Group, on a willow mattress for bank stabilization on the Van Duzen.

Humboldt County Resource Conservation District

In the mid-1980’s, several landowners in the lower Eel Basin decided to take matters into their own hands. The needed long-term solutions to water quality problems associated with sedimentation and animal waste in their community. They envisioned an organization where people with technical expertise worked one-on-one with and individual landowner-not form a regulatory or permitting standpoint-but by simply providing technical assistance to help solve a problem. Their solution was the formation of the Eel River Resource Conservation District (RCD), a local organization led by community volunteers to help landowners solve conservation problems on a voluntary, cooperative basis.


This is part of a cattle exclusion project on Tom Long Creek.


Corral area and ranch roads rocked for protection in the Van Duzen watershed.


A sediment catchment project in a tributary to Seelye Creek.


A pool on Bull Creek produced from set and anchored quarried rock

Eel River Watershed Improvement Group, ERWIG

ERWIG is an incorporated non-profit composed of Eel River interest groups and individuals committed to the improvement of its native salmon and steelhead stocks. This organization provides a non-governmental, non-judgemental, non-regulatory, landowner-based organization with the technical skills to assist in watershed improvement opportunities to benefit salmon populations.

ERWIG receives support from various grant programs. The most important is the California Department of Fish and Game’s SB 271 fund. These funds provide for two watershed coordinators to work with landowners and managers to develop broad community awareness and support for salmon and steelhead restoration through community outreach, educational programs and personal contacts. These contacts lead to collaboration among ERWIG, landowners and resource agencies to evaluate habitat, identify improvement opportunities, obtain necessary permits, apply for funding, implement project construction and administer project funds. Thus, ERWIG provides a vital link between landowners and resource agencies like DFG and U.S. Fish & wildlife Services.


Baffles were installed in this large culvert on
Palmer Creek that provide renewed fish access upstream


A stretch of Bull Creek showing several instream structures
and planted willow mattresses aimed at stabilizing the banks.

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