The 27th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference took place in Santa Cruz and was focused on Elements of Watershed Restoration.
Hundreds of participants attended from all over the state despite it being a time of severe budget cuts and travel freezes. Interestingly, the Stop Work Order and agency travel freezes affected the demographics of conference attendees. The location, agenda, and the economic landscape brought out the grassroots restoration and watershed community. The conference was primarily attended by restoration practitioners and non-profits as well as students, watershed stewards project members, private landowners, agency personnel, and county staff. This is regarded as the premiere habitat restoration conference in the Pacific Northwest and hosting the conference in Santa Cruz afforded wonderful opportunities to view projects on the Central Coast and highlight issues that pertain to coastal watershed and coho salmon recovery.
The conference featured workshops on topics including Estuary Restoration, Fish Passage Design and Implementation, Coho Use and Restoration of Offchannel Habitat, Watershed Monitoring and Assessment, and Sustainable Agriculture: Water Quality and Riparian Habitat Restoration. All day field tours included tours highlighting Resource Management for Steelhead and Coho Salmon Conservation in Santa Cruz county: a Tour of San Lorenzo River and Soquel Creek projects, Carmel River Restoration Projects, Southern Coho Streams and the NOAA lab and Broodstock program, Coho Salmon and Steelhead Enhancement Projects on the Santa Cruz North Coast, Dams and Daylighting: Progress and Opportunities in San Francisquito Creek and half-day tours of fish passage projects and sustainable agriculture projects in conjunction with those morning workshops.
The Plenary session featured Dr. Peter Moyle and Dr. Josh Israel from UC Davis who discussed the state of salmonids in California. Mike Furniss from Redwood Sciences Lab addressed climate change and salmonid recovery, Dr. Astrid Scholz of Ecotrust presentated on how marine ecology and oceanic conditions affect salmonids, and Dr. Bob Curry of Watershed Systems highlighted the status of restoration efforts in Monterey Bay and adjacent watersheds.
Concurrent sessions addressed biological, policy, and environmental and physical issues affecting salmonids. Concurrent sessions included the following topics: Water Diversions & Water Wars in California; FERC Relicensing Restoration Opportunities; Central & South Coast Steelhead: Biology, Genetics, and Recovery Strategies; Fire Ecology, Forests, and Fisheries; Dam Removal and Modifications for Salmonid Recovery; Restoration at the Crossroads; Juvenile Steelhead and Coho Salmon: Central Coast Habitat and Population Research; Hydrologic and Geomorphic Legacy Issues: Solutions for the Past and the Future; Coho Salmon Recovery and Restoration: Putting Theory into Practice.