Friends of the Eel River
2020 Annual Report
In a year of unique challenges unlike any we’ve collectively faced, Friends of the Eel River continued progress on important issues affecting the Eel River.
Progress on the Great Redwood Trail bookended our year, beginning with a ribbon-cutting for the first officially branded portion of the trail in Ukiah and ending with the state’s assessment of trail viability and introduction of Senator McGuire’s SB 69. This latest bill, still making its way through the legislature, will establish the Great Redwood Trail Agency and authorize it to complete an environmental assessment of the northern portion of the right-of-way and plan, design, construct, and maintain the future trail system.
Much of the progress on restoring fish access to the Eel River headwaters by removing Scott Dam happened behind-the-scenes, but there were some noteworthy milestones. We continued our focus on evaluation of dam safety and reliability with a letter to Governor Newsom and other state-wide decision makers exploring the question of whether PG&E might be concealing dam safety liabilities, as they have with negligent management of other energy infrastructure. This year we began a blog series about dam safety and reliability, click here to learn more.
The Two Basin Partners submitted their feasibility study report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), in which they proposed to remove Scott Dam. In response, FERC issued Scoping Document 3.
The future of the Potter Valley Project is at a critical juncture right now, and we expect to know more about the path to dam removal in the next few months.
In true 2020 fashion, last year we produced some virtual content including a video update from staff in lieu of our normal spring open house, a webinar about dealing with climate anxiety, and the weekly EcoNews Report podcast.
A small but exciting project that began in 2020 is Caltrans project to rebuild 8 mile bridge near the confluence with Outlet Creek on HWY 162. Thanks to a few dedicated river-access enthusiasts, we are now a part of a small coalition working toward formalizing a trail for river access and committing to trail maintenance.
We continued advocating for Northern California summer steelhead. We received the disappointing but unsurprising news that our federal petition to list the species under the Endangered Species Act was denied, but fortunately this year the California Fish and Game Commission surprised us by approving our petition!
Last year Samantha Kannry’s paper On the Ecology and Distribution of Steelhead in California’s Eel River was published, and we featured summer steelhead in several newsletters (click here and here) and on the EcoNews report episode “Why Spring- and Summer-Run Salmonids are So Damn Interesting and Weird”.
And finally, the Wildlands Conservancy continued their process of acquiring the Lone Pine Ranch on the mainstem Eel River. This spectacular 26,000-acre property includes hundreds of acres of wetlands, incredible potential for carbon sequestration in the 86 million board feet of standing timber, and exciting opportunities for tourism economy with its 20 miles of river frontage and the future Great Redwood Trail. Check out our podcast episodes from 2020 and 2021 to learn more.
Be sure you are subscribed to our monthly newsletter to keep up with developments on all these projects and more!