February 2011 Membership Letter

Dear Friends,

We appreciate your response to our December letter. Knowing you are still with us is very encouraging.

The year 2010 turned out to be a record-breaking year on the Eel River for Chinook. It was amazing to see how different river management and greater flows brought 6,000 to 10,000 Chinook back to the Eel to spawn this past fall/winter. In 2004 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission mandated an increase in water releases to the Eel from the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project, but it took about two years for PG&E to get their flows corrected. This is a major change and positive development for the Eel, and the economic potential for a significant return of this fishery is very exciting.

At this time we are pulling our science team together, including Drs. Greg Kamman and Bill Trush, and assembling a science advisory team with professors from Humboldt State University, UC-Davis and UCBerkeley. Our attorneys remain Ellison Folk and Amy Bricker from Shute, Mihaly and Weinberger, a highly regarded SF environmental law firm. With their help we are preparing to argue before the State Water Resources Control Board in order to get more water back in the Eel River—specifically, to end all water diversions to the Russian River watershed.

Fisheries biologist Pat Higgins completed his studies on the mainstem Eel River in December, providing us with more information for our arguments in favor of increasing water to the Eel. We have just received his final report. It’s under review, and soon we will upload it to our website and notify FOER members by email. Thanks again to Pat and those who participated in this very productive project.

Next time you visit www.eelriver.org, please take a moment to see what’s new. The website was redesigned and organized by our talented apprentice Julie Arnold, a recent graduate of Mills College. The new website is beautiful and functional, allowing users to search the site, post comments and keep current on river news and activities. Please share your email address with us if you have one, as this is the easiest and most economical way to pass on new information about our efforts and keep you up to speed on Eel River news.

The Mill Valley-based Resource Renewal Institute announced its 2010 River Warrior awards in December, and our very own Nadananda (FOER Director) was recognized for her work to protect and improve water quality, fish, wildlife and river ecosystems. Huey D. Johnson, of RRI, founded the River Warrior awards in 2008 to “encourage the rare individuals whose lives are defined by passion for rivers and fish.”

Our major events in 2011 will be tribal prayer ceremonies on the Eel featuring the Feather Dancers of the Round Valley Tribes. The blessing and ceremonial events begin with the Spring Equinox at the Van Arsdale/Cape Horn Dam on March 19th (with the 26th as a backup in case of rain). A second event will be held near the Summer Equinox at Hidden Oak Park in Covelo, June 18th, followed by a car camping trip to the headwaters of the Eel River, Lake Pillsbury and the Potter Valley diversion, all hosted by Nadananda; and the Fall Equinox event will take place at the mouth of the Eel River, due west of Loleta, on September 24th. If you are coming, want to volunteer or have any questions, please let us know. Please help us by getting your reservations in early.

Below are the rates for advertising in our 2011 issue of the Eel River Reporter. If you are not a current advertiser you can become one in the upcoming issue, deadline March 15, 2011. This publication is our key outreach project and is funded by advertisers. We are hoping to generate enough advertising revenue this spring to publish and distribute 50,000 copies from Marin to Humboldt. The magazine will also be available on our website. Ads are sold for a single issue and include full color.

Rates: Full Page $1000, Half $500, Third $335, Quarter $250 or Eighth $125

This is the year we have to raise sufficient money for our legal and science team to complete the work necessary for us to make our arguments for the restoration of Eel River flows at the State Water Resources Control Board in 2013 and 2014. Your memberships and donations have kept us going for many years, and we are ever grateful for this support. We now have to move into a different phase of our effort to bring down the two antiquated dams and close the diversion tunnel. Your donations, ideas for raising money, your time to put on house parties, etc., and volunteer efforts are needed now more than ever. We have been saving money to fight this fight and have done well, but we need an additional $500,000 to hire the best and make sure we win this fight. It is our best chance to make a difference for the Eel River. Our opponents now include not only the California Farm Bureau folks who gave you “farmers versus fish” last year, but also the new in town national and international corporations that have bought up the Mom and Pop vineyards in Mendocino and Sonoma and are competing for our water.

Please consider hosting your own house party and volunteering at these events. We have cooks, musicians and volunteers who will help you put on a fundraiser to contribute toward the financial goal. Membership gifts will do double duty, as they add to our fund drive but also to the growing number of members. If you have ideas and suggestions for raising dollars please do not hesitate to let Nada know at nada@eelriver.org or call Jessica at our office 415.332-9810.

Running the river with friends in spring is a highlight of the year, so if you’re interested now is the time to let us know your skill level and equipment that you have or need. Variable river flows make it a challenge to set firm dates. These are not guided tours, so for information about guided tours call our office or refer to resources on our website.

We all—Staff, Board and Nadananda—look forward to hearing from you.