Land Use

Land use plays a huge role in determining the health of a watershed. Human activities like logging, cannabis cultivation, road construction, livestock grazing, have disconnected and diminished ecological functions in the Eel River watershed. As these and other activities of the Anthropocene era continue contributing to climate change, we must quickly adapt and ensure that our presence on the landscape does not decrease the value and function of natural resources.

Mitigating Cannabis Cultivation Impacts

Cannabis growing in Humboldt County

The history of cannabis cultivation beneath the Redwood canopy is a long a storied one; unfortunately the environmental impacts also span generations. Since California legalized recreational cannabis use in late 2016 the landscape for growing cannabis has shifted dramatically. We have learned a lot about best practices that can protect our watershed, and the kind of resources required to effectively regulate the newly legal industry. In 2019 FOER reached a settlement agreement with Humboldt County in our CEQA case challenging their inadequate cannabis cultivation regulations.

One component of the settlement agreement was a grant program to fund sediment reduction projects on public and private roads serving cannabis cultivation sites in prioritized salmon-bearing watersheds. The County began implementing this grant program in the fall of 2021. Click here to learn more about the grant program and for instructions on how to apply.

Groundwater Management

Image of lower Eel River looking upstream. Blue sky contrasts the brown and green algae on the banks of the Eel River. The broad, shallow riffles on the left side of the photo as the river flows through a narrow pinchpoint (a point bar) and deepens near the center of the photo. Trees and mountains line the background.

When California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in 2014, the state took the first step to begin managing groundwater use. Unfortunately, SGMA lacks the push for urgent action that we need in our watersheds. SGMA requires that all basins “achieve sustainable yield” by 2040, a timeline that allows for undesirable impacts to continue for over two decades. Enough time for species to go extinct. The state also needs to provide more guidance on standard protocols for data management and reporting, ensuring that municipalities are collecting and reporting use data in a usable manner.

A groundbreaking legal decision in 2018 determined that the public trust doctrine does apply to groundwater, and that SGMA compliance does not nullify public trust obligations. Click here to read about the case, ELF v. State Water Resources Control Board and click here to listen to a podcast episode about the decision and its implications.

Enhancing and Restoring the Estuary

Eel River EstuaryThe Eel River estuary presents 0pportunities for modeling a proactive approach to adapting to sea level rise. Sea level rise in Humboldt Bay and the Eel River Estuary is among the fastest on the west coast of North America. Tectonic activity causes the land to sink and the mountains of the Lost Coast to rise quickly. While we work to open access to spawning grounds in the headwaters of the Eel, it’s also important to connect and enhance habitat in the estuary so all those juvenile salmonids have a safe and productive place to grow.

A wide range of entities have restoration projects on-going in the estuary including the Humboldt County Resource Conservation District, California Trout, Duck Unlimited, The Wiyot Tribe, Department of Fish and Wildlife, and more. And yet, we need more! The region needs a comprehensive Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment. But importantly, our community needs to acknowledge that informed by modern science, and facing the impacts of climate change, we cannot simply cannot manage natural resources in the same way we did 150 years ago.

Friends of the Eel River’s Position on the Cannabis Reform Initiative, Measure A

Friends of the Eel River neither supports nor opposes the Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative, also known as Measure A. The initiative offers several ways to improve cannabis cultivation regulations by...
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Action Alert: Protect Public Access to Fisher Road

Background Fisher Road has been used by the fishing community for nearly 100 years to access the Van Duzen River, a major tributary to the Eel. Last fall the southernmost...
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Friends of the Eel River Sues to Protect Public Trust Flows In The Lower Eel River

Salmon and steelhead among species affected when groundwater pumping causes drawdown of connected surface flows. Friends of the Eel River (FOER) has filed suit in Humboldt County Superior Court to...
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Conservation Groups Joint Statement on PG&E Herbicide Spraying

On September 29, 2022, PG&E alerted Humboldt County that it was going to spray herbicides along its easements across the region. PG&E failed to alert landowners or tenants of this...
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Support for Save Jackson Coalition

Secretary Wade Crowfoot California Natural Resources Agency 715 P Street, 20th Floor Sacramento, CA 95814 Sent via email to Dear Secretary Crowfoot, Friends of the Eel River supports the...
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Ocean Ranch Restoration Project

Recently we toured the Ocean Ranch Restoration Project in the Eel River Wildlife Area. The Eel River Wildlife Area is a 2,600-acre complex in the Eel River estuary and is...
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Friends of the Eel River Notifies Humboldt County of Intent to Sue

Friends of the Eel River Notifies Humboldt County of Intent to Sue Conservation group demands Humboldt County protect fisheries and other public trust values in the lower Eel River Friends...
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FOER Comments on Humboldt County’s Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan

Friday, December 24, 2021 Hank Seeman Humboldt County via email Re: Comments on Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan Dear Hank and Groundwater Team: Thank you for the informative presentation on the...
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