Why the Eel River Disappeared and What It Means for Fish

A YouTube video posted yesterday to SFGate.com claimed that the Eel has stopped flowing altogether, which is not strictly accurate. The video above, which was shot this morning, shows that the Eel simply goes underground for a stretch, running beneath the surface of the gravel riverbed before reemerging about 100-200 yards north.

Regardless, this is an alarming and worrisome development for the third-largest watershed in California. We spoke with Scott Greacen, executive director of Friends of the Eel River, about the factors that led to this situation — primarily California’s beyond-extreme drought but also the warm weather and countless illegal water diversions irrigating our county’s illicit marijuana grows — as well as some measures that could be taken to improve things.

“I’m really disturbed,” Greacen said. Low flows in the Eel can be disastrous for fish such as chinook salmon, steelhead trout and especially coho salmon, which need to live in the river a full year before running out to the ocean, according to Greacen. And when flows are low — or go underground — it destroys the breeding grounds for insects that fish rely on. “When you don’t have flow you don’t have food,” Greacen said.

Article by: Ryan Burns

Published by: Lost Coast Outpost

Published on: September 5, 2014

Read full article here.

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