17th Annual Coho Confab
The 17th Annual Coho Confab was held on the Smith River in northern California from August 22-24, 2014.
Salmonid Restoration Federation and Trees Foundation hosted this exciting educational event at Rock Creek Ranch on the South Fork of the Smith River. The event was also sponsored by the California Department of Fish & Wildlife.
The Coho Confab opened with a Friday evening community dinner and orientation presentations. Justin Garwood, Aquatic Specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, gave a talk on The Historic and Current Spatial Structure of Coho Salmon Populations in Northern California. Will Harling, Executive Director of the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, presented on Creating Coho Off-Channel Rearing Habitat in the Middle Klamath Sub-basin: Results and Lessons Learned (2010-2014), and Grant Werschkull of the Smith River Alliance presented on obstacles and opportunities for recovery in the Smith River watershed.
The weekend included field tours and workshops focused on pioneering restoration techniques. Saturday morning field tours included Fish Passage Projects in Smith River Tributaries: Vortex Weir Fishways, Roughened Channels, and Stream Simulation presented by Mike Love & Associates. Engineer Travis James of GHD, Inc. and foresters with Green Diamond also toured instream large woody debris projects and fish passage projects in Rowdy Creek and Dominie Creek. Geologist Rocco Fiori and Sarah Beesley from the Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program led a full-day tour on Reconnecting Stream & Floodplain Habitats in Lower Klamath Tributaries. Saturday afternoon included a Juvenile Salmonid Identification workshop in the Lower Smith River with Jesse Nolan and Jolyon Walkley of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Saturday also featured an open forum on the release of the final SONCC Coho Recovery Plan and implementation strategies on the Smith River, facilitated by Julie Weeder, SONCC Coho Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries. The day culminated with a traditional salmon feast prepared by Yurok restoration tribal members, a lively campfire, a starlit concert with river troubadour, Joanne Rand, and film shorts with Thomas Dunklin including the Wild and Scenic Smith River video.
Sunday morning field tours included a tour of Strawberry Creek Wetland Restoration: Coho, Beaver, and Invasive Vegetation with fish passage engineer Mike Love and veteran restorationist Mitch Farro of Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Restoration Association. Lathrop Leonard of the National Park Service led a tour of Watershed Restoration: Integrating Multi-disciplinary Restoration Priorities at the Landscape Scale in Mill Creek. HSU graduate fisheries student Marisa Parish led a tour of beaver sites and salmon population monitoring sites on the main stem of the Smith River. This offered an exciting opportunity to see thermal refugia and beaver sites along the river.