Salmonid Restoration Federation

Water Conservation Workshop & Coho Salmon Recovery Open House, February 7

10am to 4pm
Beginnings Octagon

Briceland, CA

Contacts: Dana Stolzman, Executive Director, Salmonid Restoration Federation (707) 923-7501,

The South Fork Eel River and the health of its tributaries is key to recovery of threatened coho salmon. The coho salmon were listed as threatened species in 1996 due to sharp decline in wild populations because of loss of habitat. Limiting factors affecting coho salmon include sediment, high water temperatures, lack of water, and refugia. In North Coast watersheds a primary factor impacting coho salmon are insufficient instream flows. The Southern Oregon Northern California (SONCC) Recovery Plan was recently finalized which provides a blueprint for recovery for coho salmon populations. This workshop provided an opportunity for landowners and residents to learn about the Recovery Plan and how it will be implemented in key watersheds. This also served as an open house to provide an opportunity for residents to discuss stresses and threats to salmon, and brainstorm strategies to improve habitat conditions in order to conserve local salmon populations.

The workshop also explored water conservation measures and community-based solutions to water scarcity. We focused on water conservation techniques in a time of drought, resources for rural landowners, navigating water rights, and local and regional water conservation programs. Speakers included Matt Clifford, water rights attorney with Trout Unlimited, Julie Weeder, SONCC Coho Recovery Plan Coordinator, Jane Arnold, water rights specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Scott Greacen of Friends of the Eel River, Adona White of the State Water Resources Control Board, and Tom Leroy of Pacific Watershed Associates. Tasha McKee of Sanctuary Forest discussed innovative water conservation efforts, pilot programs, and landowner incentives.

Despite recent rainfall, California is still experiencing a historic drought — the worst this state has seen in the 163 years since record keeping began. The state’s “Drought Declaration” is still in effect and so is the opportunity for landowners to register their water storage through an “Emergency Tank Registration Program,” which enables landowners to register their storage without a 1600 Agreement or a site inspection from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as long as they are forbearing from pumping for sixty days, have rigid water storage, and filing their small domestic use paperwork. Many landowners would like to participate in community-based water conservation efforts and it is important to understand that establishing your water rights is a general criteria that must be met for landowners to qualify for a grant-funded water conservation program.

“Water stewardship is an issue that affects all residents and landowners on the North Coast. Since we live in endangered species habitat, it is imperative to understand that water is a shared public resource and our choices affect our neighbors and all species that inhabit these watersheds. Cool water tributaries provide critical spawning and rearing habitat. As we weather this extended drought, we must work together to create sustainable water conservation programs,” stated Dana Stolzman, Executive Director of Salmonid Restoration Federation.

For more information about the Redwood Creek, South Fork Eel River low flow study or water conservation efforts being conducted by Salmonid Restoration Federation, please visit the Redwood Creek Water Conservation Project page.