A gigantic thank you to our departing founder, Nadananda Hamilton

If you are a fan of the Eel River, you undoubtedly know the name Nadananda. Back in 1994, Nadananda decided it was time to start restoring the struggling Eel River. Under her leadership, a group of southern Humboldt residents launched Friends of the Eel River to begin the long and arduous process of, among other things, removing the Eel River dams. For 20 years, Nadananda helmed the organization whose name became synonymous with the principled defense of our watershed. She retired from the staff in 2012 but continued to serve on the Board of Directors until late 2017 from her new home in Mexico.

Nadananda played an indispensable role in bringing the issues facing the remote and rugged Eel River out of obscurity. One of her many accomplishments was stopping the Sonoma County Water Agency’s huge diversion expansion plan dead in its tracks. In 2002, Nada launched a legal challenge to the SCWA’s Environmental Impact Report for taking an additional 26,000 acre-feet per year of water from the Russian River to support the growth of Sonoma County and northern Marin Counties’ cities. The Eel River was to have been put in the terrible position of supplying increased water to meet the growing demands on the Russian River. We won this landmark case, FOER vs. SCWA, at the California Court of Appeals. The court’s ruling ultimately led to the SCWA and associated cities withdrawing their attempt to vastly increase the number of water customers depending on Eel River water being diverted to the Russian River. It also forced the region’s water agencies and their client municipalities to take FOER seriously and has given us a solid seat at the table since then in our work to restore the Eel River.

Recently, Nadananda decided it was time to fully hand the reigns over to the team that she had nurtured and recruited over the years. The Friends of the Eel River staff and Board of Directors are incredibly grateful for her leadership, commitment, and the progress they engendered. We wish her the absolute best for her next chapter in life and are proud to have the honor of carrying her vision forward during such a critical time for the Eel River, her fisheries, and the communities that depend on them. Thank you Nadananda, for having the vision and drive for forging a brighter future for the Eel River, one in which she runs wild and free!