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11th Annual Coho Confab
September 26-28, 2008
South Fork of the Smith River
Zack Larson led an underwater fish identification and snorkeling workshop on the Smith River. (All Confab photos by Dana Stolzman)
Over 100 fishheads migrated to the pristine South Fork of the Smith River to participate in the 11th Annual Coho Confab this September. the Confab is a symposium to explore watershed restoration, learn restoration techniques to recover coho salmon populations, and to network with other fish-centric people. To confabulate literally means to informally chat or to fabricate to compensate for gaps in one’s 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 restorationists that allows participants to learn skills and practices that can be applied to restore habitat in their home watershed.
The 11th Annual Coho Confab is annually hosted by the Salmonid Restoration Federation and Trees Foundation. this year’s additional co-sponsors included the California Department of Fish and Game, Smith River Alliance, Smith River Advisory Council, and Cal Trout.
Rich Nelson and Thomas Dunklin preparing wild Klamath salmon that was generously donated by Yurok tribal members to the Confab. The fish was smoked on redwood stakes around an alder fire.
Orientation presentations included opening talks about the significance of the Mill Creek watershed acquisition in protecting and restoring a salmon stronghold, by Grant Werschkull of Smith River Alliance and Zack Larson of the Smith River Advisory Council. Tom Weseloh of Cal Trout discussed Coho Salmon from State CESA listing to Local Restoration Projects. Research Ecologist Frank Lake presented on how upslope fire and forest management affect fish by providing a review of tribal and scientific knowledge about the effects of fires on fisheries.
This year’s Confab featured restoration tours in the Mill Creek watershed, tributaries of the South Fork, Yontucket Slough and the Smith River estuary. Randy Lew of Pacific Watershed Associates led a tour of road decommissioning and erosion control projects in Dominie and Rowdy Creeks. State Park geologist Rocco Fiori discussed experimental wood loading designs to enhance stream function and salmonid habitats. A full-day tour of Mill Creek restoration projects included presentations by Dan Burgess of Rural Human Services who led a tour of the native plant nursery for Mill Creek restoration, Lathrope Leonard of Redwood National and State Parks who led a forestry tour focused on restoring late seral forests, and Brian Merrill of California State Parks who discussed backcountry road management in North Coast Redwoods State Parks and rehabilitating watershed function. Rod McLeod of the Mill Creek Monitoring Program led a hands-on workshop assessing juvenile coho summer abundance estimation in Mill Creek.
Antonio Llanos of Mike Love & Associates giving a presentation on local fish passage projects before the group departs to check out the on-the-ground work.
Additionally, Zack Larson facilitated a Smith River fish identification workshop. Antonio Llanos of Mike Love & Associates led a tour of fish passage projects and co-led a tour of Yontocket Slough and the Smith River estuary with Zack. Other workshops included instream fish identification, and macro-invertebrate sampling and stream health assessment.
Each year the Confab is held in a different location on the North Coast. The 12th Annual Confab will be held near the Big River on the Mendocino Coast. Please join us!
Read the article on the Confab here.