Friends of the Eel River looking for salmon run spotters

The Times-Standard
Posted: 10/14/2011 01:59:33 AM PDT

Friends of the Eel River is asking local residents to watch for and report sightings of Chinook salmon migrating up the Eel River and its tributaries, according to a press release sent out Thursday.

The nonprofit advocacy organization will use “fish watcher” reports to build a more detailed picture of salmon spawning and migration patterns on the river. The fall salmon run up the Eel has begun, but low water levels upstream have led to concern about potential fish kills if this threatened species is left stranded by insufficient flows. This information could also help federal and state fisheries agencies decide whether to release additional water from the Potter Valley Project to augment flows in the mainstem Eel in the next few weeks, if the area doesn’t get more rain soon.

The group is asking the public to call or email its main office to report sightings. Reports should note the date and time, specific location, and the number and condition of the fish sighted. If possible, observers should take note of whether the salmon were bright silver or dark, strong or struggling, and whether there is any evidence of stranding or the potential for it. Friends of the Eel River can be reached at 415-332-9810 or by email at

”Salmon runs on the Eel River are an important part of our local heritage and our economy,” said Nadananda, executive director of Friends of the Eel River. “Local residents helping to track and count these fish will assist greatly in our work to preserve these fish and improve river conditions on the Eel.”

The Eel River is proving to be a rare bright spot in efforts to recover endangered coho and Chinook salmon, in part because the migratory fish returning to this watershed are wild and not of hatchery origin. The fall run of salmon in 2010 was the largest seen in 77 years due to increased flows to the Eel River.

”Friends of the Eel is greatly concerned that this recovery will lose ground if DFG does not release sufficient water to support consistent water flows on the river during these important weeks,” the release said.