December 9, 2021
Re: Support for Cutting the Green Tape Grant Proposal
To Whom It May Concern:
Friends of the Eel River supports the Cutting the Green Tape grant proposal by California Trout, the University of California Berkeley, and the Wiyot Tribe to evaluate and test a fish weir in the South Fork Eel River.
Friends of the Eel River has been working for over 25 years to protect and recover the Wild and Scenic Eel River and its fisheries. We have worked alongside the project applicants to secure meaningful progress for wild, native fish in the Eel River, and strongly endorse their work.
The South Fork of the Eel is a salmon stronghold – home to one of the last viable populations of endangered Coho Salmon, as well as threatened Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The South Fork of the Eel represents the best opportunity to recover a healthy and self-sustaining population of wild salmon on the North Coast. However, the watershed has been impacted by a legacy of overharvesting, sedimentation, and excessive water diversions in many of its tributaries.
Non-native, predatory Sacramento Pikeminnow throughout the watershed are a significant threat to our progress on recovery for native salmon – and one that ecological stewards must address head-on. Sacramento Pikeminnow prey on every native fish species in the river, and since their introduction, have become the most abundant fish predator in the system, with a documented negative effect on native salmon. Moreover, predation and competition from non-native pikeminnow impact all our efforts to restore spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids.
For years, advocates for the Eel River have been seeking meaningful ways to address the growing population of Pikeminnow and their devastating impact on native fish. This proposal is an excellent starting place; a bold, science-based, and collaborative approach to meet the challenges posed by this invasive fish. Starting from a solid inter-agency working group (including state and federal fisheries partners) and building on careful study and planning, the implementation of a fish weir to capture and remove these predatory fish is a step that will give our native salmon a chance to recover. This project also can enhance all other recovery dollars spent in the South Fork Eel – by reducing the impact of predation and interference on juvenile salmon during their migration to the Sea.
I appreciate your consideration of this project,