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10th Annual Coho Confab
August 16-18, 2007
Confab participants weaving a live willow mattress.
Participants from Los Angeles County to the Siskiyous migrated to the beautiful Mattole River Valley to attend the 10th Annual Coho Confab that was held in Petrolia August 16-18, 2007. This landmark event was a collaboration between the Salmonid Restoration Federation, Trees Foundation, Sanctuary Forest, Mattole Restoration Council, Department of Fish and Game, and the Mattole Salmon Group. This 10th anniversary Confab marked the first return in a decade to the location of the original Coho Confab.The Coh
o Confab is an annual symposium designed to encourage and improve watershed restoration efforts, explore restoration techniques to recover coho salmon populations, and provide diverse stakeholders an opportunity to network with other fishcentric people. To confabulate literally means to informally chat or to fabricate to compensate for gaps in ones memory. Not to imply that restorationists are prone to hyperbole when recounting the size of a rescued fish, the magnitude of the waterfall coming out of the culvert, or the heroics of a particular restoration job. The Confab is an informal gathering of fishheads that allows for participants and instructors to learn from each other’s experience. Participants learn skills and practices that can be applied to restore habitat in their home watershed.
Drew Barber of the Mattole Salmon Group shows off the wood structures built to provide improved habitat -- in the form of complex cover and greater pool depths -- for over-summering salmonids in the Mattole estuary. (Photo: Mike Gordon)
This year’s Confab featured restoration tours highlighting sudden oak death, biomonitoring, the Mattole Canyon Creek Delta restoration, installing instream structures, and a tour of the headwaters of the Mattole addressing water conservation, sediment reduction, and land acquisitions. Other field tours visited Wild and Working Forest sites, in-stream structures in the lower Mattole to the Estuary, and Mill Creek. Workshops focused on underwater fish identification, riparian invertebrate monitoring as a tool for stream health assessment, and hightech water quality monitoring.
Participants had an opportunity to snorkel and identify fish in “Tails from a Hidden World—Natural History and Underwater Exploration of Salmonids and their Habitat” led by Maureen Roche, Mattole Valley resident, and Tom Campbell of the Mattole Salmon Group. Hikers joined David Simpson in a fabulous tour entitled, “Protecting a Postage Stamp, Saving the World— Story of Mill Creek Restoration” where participants learned about the history of the effort to restore the lower part of this watershed and protect the remnant old-growth forest.
The Mattole Restoration Council and the Mattole Salmon Group orchestrated a hands-on Bioengineering workshop to create floating willow mattresses to shade the juvenile salmonids that were stranded in the Mattole estuary after an unseasonal summer rain. (Photo: Chris Ramsey)
Open forums and resource workshops included a discussion of conservation easements with Noah Levy of Sanctuary Forest, plus “Stories and Songs of Salmon” with Freeman House, author of Totem Salmon, singer-songwriter Joanne Rand, Seth Zuckerman, co-editor of Salmon Nation, and David Simpson and Jane Lapiner of the theatrical troupe, Human Nature. Saturday night culminated with a celebratory feast, a cabaret featuring local talents, and was capped by a fantastic performance by Joanne Rand. The Sunday morning workshops included low-flow assessment in watersheds, monitoring riparian plantings, and the evolution of watershed restoration efforts in the Mattole.
The 11th Annual Coho Confab will be held next August along the Smith River in the far northwest corner of California.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2007 Newsletter.