Watershed restoration efforts in Humboldt County are receiving $1.23 million in grants from the state Department of Conservation.
The grants are part of $9.1 million available through Proposition 84 to 41 organizations and non-profit groups throughout the state. The funds will be distributed over three years and are meant to hire watershed coordinators to organize local efforts.
Among the groups on the list are the city of Trinidad, which will receive $294,000 to hire two part-time coordinators for its effort to improve water quality, help watersheds adapt to climate change and reduce the effects of invasive species. The Mattole Restoration Council will get $287,000 toward accelerating restoration on the Mattole River.
The Salmonid Restoration Federation will get $278,000 to develop management plans for the Eel River, hold workshops and meetings and work with local, state and federal agencies on efforts to advance salmon recovery efforts.
The Humboldt County Resource Conservation District will get $141,000 to help build a strategy to resolve complex resource issues for its Salt River project. The Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Restoration Association will get $166,000 to conduct outreach and seek funding for sediment and pollution reduction, restoration and flood control on Redwood Creek. The Yager/Van Duzen Environmental Stewards program will get $72,000 toward a watershed coordinator to secure permits for work to reduce sediment into the creeks.
Big Salmon Run Spawns Profits
Wall Street Journal
February 7, 2011
By Justin Scheck
CRESCENT CITY, Calif.—An unexpectedly large run of salmon in the rivers of far Northern California this winter is providing an economic boost to local communities across the hard-hit region.
After years of declining fish numbers, some waterways, including the Smith River—which flows through giant redwoods into the Pacific Ocean near Crescent City—have seen their best salmon returns since the 1970s, according to the California Department of Fish and Game and local biologists.
…What is clear is that this winter’s huge salmon runs have drawn legions of fishermen, creating business for fishing guides, tackle shops and motels in many small towns in the region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated anglers in California made $2.7 billion in fishing-related expenditures in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available.
On remote Smith tributaries, a nonprofit group this winter offered tourists trips to see spawning fish. In drought years, some of those tributaries don’t have enough water for salmon to spawn.
“It’s huge for us to have a big population of fish, for our economy,” said Zack Larson, a local biologist who has also worked as a fishing guide. At the Hiouchi Motel near prime fishing spots on the Smith, business at the 17-room hotel is up about 15% this winter from last year, said manager Sholia Deroule.
“We did have a better season this year,” she said. “The fishermen have been staying around more, and there’s more traffic.”
rails to trails along the North Coast’s Eel River?
Eel River group wants NRCA’s tracks for trails
(The Ukiah Daily Journal, 1/18/11)
“A grass-roots effort is under way to rip out the rails and ties along the North Coast Railroad Authority corridor from Willits north to Humboldt Bay, and convert the corridor to a non-motorized trail.” The founder of the Eel River Trails Association said one of four options “is to petition federal authorities to find the railway abandoned, beginning a 20-day period in which a predetermined agency could step up and ask to preserve the right-of-way for California — possibly the Bureau of Land Management, among other agencies.”
By TIFFANY REVELLE The Daily Journal 01/18/2011
A grass-roots effort is under way to rip out the rails and ties along the North Coast Railroad Authority corridor from Willits north to Humboldt Bay, and convert the corridor to a non-motorized trail. The process is called “rail banking,” and has been done on more than about 19,000 miles of national railroad, contends Chris Weston, founder of the Eel River Trails Association, which is spearheading the effort. “This is one of the unusual cases where Northern California is behind the curve,” Weston said. He argues that insisting the corridor should be used for a freight line isn’t “intellectually honest,” since efforts to restore the rail have been slow since the NCRA began its effort in the ’80s after flooding debilitated the railway in 1967. He cites mounting rubble in one of the corridor’s tunnels, geological unsoundness and lack of funding as reasons the NCRA’s efforts aren’t feasible. Rail banking the corridor would leave open the possibility that rail service could be restored when funding is available, Weston noted.
In the meantime, the Eel River Trails Association envisions a walking, hiking, biking and horseback riding trail, possibly with coffee shops, restrooms, horse stables, and a credit-card-like system where users fund the upkeep and swipe a card at intermediate points to let authorities know where they are.
In the roughly month’s time the group has existed, it’s gathered more than 5,000 signatures on a petition to convert the rail corridor to a trail, according to Weston. He said most of the signatures come from residents north of Mendocino County’s portion of the approximately 150-mile section of the NCRA corridor in question, but include “hundreds” of Willits signatures. But NCRA authorities contend those signatures may be irrelevant. “Five thousand signatures is interesting,” said NCRA board member Hal Wagenette of Willits, the former Mendocino County supervisor who was appointed to the authority’s board of directors by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. “It’s the larger interest that must be served.” The NCRA is under a state mandate to restore freight service to the 314-mile rail corridor, which stretches from its interchange with the national rail system just south of Napa, north to Eureka, according to NCRA Executive Director Mitch Stogner. So far, 62 miles on the southern end of that corridor is restored and could be running freight by March, he said, pending the results of a safety inspection by the Federal Railroad Administration. That stretch runs from the Napa interchange east to Novato and north to Windsor.
That southern segment of the NCRA right-of-way is included in an environmental impact report that covers the corridor all the way north to Willits, where the NCRA plans to restore freight service next, according to Stogner. He expects the roughly $3 million EIR will be certified in the next few months. North of Willits, however, the future is uncertain. “Three things need to happen before we can make a decision on that,” Stogner said. The contractor that will operate the trains on the railway, Northwestern Pacific Company, needs to first write a business plan that includes freight volumes sufficient to justify the cost of repairing and maintaining the rail line north of Willits. “That (cost) could be significant, because the geology of the area is very difficult; it’s prone to land slides,” Stogner said, referring to the Island Mountain area along the Eel River corridor.
Second, the company needs to identify funds for the project; and third, the NCRA needs to pay for another EIR covering that segment of the railway, according to Stogner. “That has to occur before we can do anything north of Willits,” he said. “Therein lie many challenges.” Those decisions could be 10 years away from now, according to Stogner. In the meantime, he says, the NCRA needs to understand the legal ramifications of rail banking and decide whether it’s open to the idea.
“The policy of the NCRA is rails with trails,” he said, noting the state mandate prohibits replacing rails with trails. Weston said it may not be entirely up to the NCRA, however. He named four possible options for converting the railway to a non-motorized trail. The best option, he said, is that the NCRA goes along with the idea. Weston hopes to present the idea at a March meeting of the authority’s board of directors in Eureka.Stogner said Monday he hadn’t received a written request to agendize the discussion. The trails group could also appeal to the state legislature, according to Weston. Another option is to petition federal authorities to find the railway abandoned, beginning a 20-day period in which a predetermined agency could step up and ask to preserve the right-of-way for California — possibly the Bureau of Land Management, among other agencies.
The fourth option is taking the question to court, which Weston said is “conceptually possible.”
January 30th, 2011 in
This year, as a result of heavy snowpack and unusual late spring storms, fish habitat in the Scott River Canyon (lower third of the sub-basin) is in the best condition we’ve seen over the past 30 years. We dove at Gold Flat and near Kelsey and Canyon Creeks. The flows are good, water temperature is low and there are lots of juvenile salmon and steelhead present and well distributed. As a consequence, the Scott River Canyon will produce a large number of Salmon this year. Because water quality is also relatively good in the Klamath River as well, disease rates should be lower and many of the young salmon rearing in the Scott should make it to the Pacific Ocean.
Unfortunately the good flows and water quality in Scott River Canyon do not extend to the agricultural valley that occupies the middle third of the Scott River Basin. In spite of the fact that there was still snow pack in the mountains and lots of high quality water being delivered to Scott Valley from the national forest wilderness areas above, flows out of the Scott Valley are low. Flow readings at the US Geological Service’s gauge below Scott Valley showed flows of about 30 cubic feet per second last week. That is about half the 68 year average flows for this time of year.
While 30 CFS is a fraction of what would be flowing in the Scott if groundwater pumping had not doubled since the 1960s, KlamBlog estimates that the flows observed at the gauge are actually closer to 10 cfs than to the 30 CFS reported by USGS. The discrepancy is likely the result of failure by the responsible government agency to recalibrate the gauge after large winter and spring storms significantly shifted the bed of Scott River. KlamBlog has alerted the USGS to the problem but the “near real-time” readings for the Scott River continue to show an erroneous 30 CFS.
August 28th, 2010 in
NOTICE OF MEETING–WILDLIFE CONSERVATION BOARD
May 27, 2010–10:00 AM–State Capitol, Room 112–Sacramento, California 95814
MONTEREY COUNTY—1 acre
RIVERSIDE COUNTY—404 acres
SISKIYOU COUNTY—10,500 acres
SIERRA COUNTY—1455 ACRES
SANTA CLARA COUNTY—1557 acres
MADERA COUNTY—2990 acres
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY—2355 acres–Avila Beach
LOS ANGELES COUNTY—139 acres—Cahuenga Peak
ORANGE COUNTY—100 acres—Los Cerritos wetlands
Read the full story here:
May 4th, 2010 in
, Public Lands