The Coho Confab will open Friday evening, September 9 with a community dinner and inspiring orientation presentations. Gabe Rossi, PhD, UC Berkeley Post-doctorate, and Research Hydrologist, David Dralle, PhD, will co-present, Understanding and Recovering the Drivers of Salmon Productivity and Resilience in the South Fork Eel River. This co-presentation will draw from both of their vast experience doing research in Elder Creek in the Angelo Reserve in Branscomb. Darren Mierau of Cal Trout will also give a keynote presentation titled, How Many Coho Salmon Did, Does, Could the South Fork Eel River Produce?
Anderson Creek, work done on Redwood Forest Foundation Property with CDFW, TU and ERWIG
Tour Coordinator: Tom Leroy, Pacific Watershed Associates
The tour we are proposing will be a 3.5-4 mile stream hike along Anderson Creek, in northern Mendocino County. During this hike we will observe 5 phases of large wood loading that includes both equipment installed and direct falling techniques. We will also observe 3 phases of inner gorge and streamside road decommissioning. During the hike we will discuss past watershed disturbances, their impacts on watershed processes, and the bio-fluvial-geomorphic conditions that have resulted from these disturbances. We will discuss strategies to identify, characterize, analyze, and mitigate watershed scale disturbances with a focus on surface water hydrology, riparian ecosystem functions, stream corridor sedimentary architecture, and of course fish habitat. This tour will be in a very remote part of Mendocino County and last all day.
Things we can guarantee on this tour:
(1) you will be tired at the end of the day and perhaps a little scratched up,
(2) you will see abundant juvenile coho throughout the tour,
(3) You will leave with a more nuanced view of watershed scale disturbances and their collective impacts on aquatic habitat,
(4) you will develop new wood loading strategies that you can bring back and employ within your watershed,
(5) You will be able to review several phases of wood loading and observe how our strategies changed with increases in knowledge and changes to existing reach scale conditions,
(6) Lastly you will be subjected to a deep discussion on geologic phenomena (regional tectonics, vertical land motions, sea-level-rise, sediment budgets) and how these drive the distribution and quality of salmonid habitat in Northern California.
This tour is not for the faint-at-heart and will require participants to be physically and mentally durable. We may even see bigfoot!
Upper South Fork Eel Coho Restoration Variety Hour
Field Tour Coordinators: Anna Halligan, Trout Unlimited, and Isaac Mikus, Eel River Watershed Improvement Group
The tour will start with an introduction to the Salmon Habitat and Restoration Priorities (SHaRP) process that occurred in the Upper South Fork Eel/Elder Creek tributary area. Afterwards the tour will be focused on visiting several restoration sites that were recently implemented or are ongoing. The project sites that will be visited addressed barriers to fish passage, large wood augmentation, and sediment reduction work in Kenny Creek, Dutch Charlie Creek, Redwood Creek, and the mainstem South Fork Eel River. Discussion will be focused on understanding current habitat conditions that limit salmon and steelhead populations, how to develop and implement restoration projects, and how restoration planning and design is evolving.
Only Scratching the Subsurface: An Eco-hydrologically Themed Tour of the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory
Field tour coordinators: David Dralle, PhD, Research Hydrologist, Forest Service; Gabriel Rossi, PhD, UC Berkeley and California Trout Coastal River Ecologist; and Philip Georgakakos, PhD, UC Berkely
This full-day field tour will involve a walking tour of the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory at the Angelo Coast Range Reserve. The walkabout will begin with a crash course in North Coast geology that explains the provenance of the rocks that underlie Eel River watershed. Extensive hydrological infrastructure reveals how weathering – the physical and chemical alteration of said rocks – results in a structured subsurface hillslope environment that influences how water is stored belowground, and subsequently released to streams and trees. Discussion will focus on the ways that subsurface water storage dynamics impact stream flow, temperature and energetic regimes that matter for salmonids.
Saturday Evening Open Forum:
Saturday evening will focus on the Salmon Habitat and Restoration Prioritization Program (SHaRP) that has primarily focused on the South Fork of the Eel River. This forum will include presentations by Coho Recovery Coordinator, Julie Weeder; and Allan Renger and Kaydee Bouzel, CDFW SHaRP representatives as well as a lively group discussion.
Pikeminnow and Salmonids in the South Fork Eel -- interactions, ecology, and management
Tour Coordinators: Gabriel Rossi, PhD, UC Berkeley and California Trout Coastal River Ecologist; Abel Brumo, Stillwater Sciences
This half day session will involve a series of talks on the history of pikeminnow and salmonids in the SF Eel River, our current understanding of their ecologies, interactions, and life histories, descriptions of ongoing monitoring and management efforts, and a field trip to the site of newly funded South Fork Eel River Weir to discuss weir operations and do some pikeminnow observations on site. If you have them, and are interested in snorkeling… please bring a wetsuit, mask, snorkel and towel. Not required though!
- Pikeminnow in the SF Eel River -- history, ecology, interactions
- Acoustic telemetry -- 2022 study, lessons learned
- Discuss pikeminnow suppression methods
Snorkel and suppression demonstration or discussion:
- Walk down to SF Eel at Gomde
Discuss pikeminnow suppression methods and get in the water to do pikeminnow ID and observations.
- Demonstration of some suppression methods.
Travel to Indian Creek to Tour the Weir site and discuss the weir.
- 30 minutesTalk about the weir + Q&A 30 minutes back to Gomde, return at ~1:00pm.
Cedar Creek: Restoration and Refugia at the Heart of the South Fork Eel River, CA
Field Tour Coordinator: Darren Mierau, Cal Trout
This half day session will discuss: (1) the history of the Cedar Creek Experimental Fish Hatchery and that watershed's unique geological/hydrological conditions that resulted in its selection as a location for a hatchery in 1949, (2) the subsequent damage and decommissioning as a result of the 1955 then 1964 floods, and (3) the engineering design process and resulting design-deconstruction plan for barrier removal (which is actually quite interesting given its constrained configuration).
We will walk to the site for a tour of the ongoing construction to witness the barrier removal project first-hand. If available, we will also meet the Project Engineer of Record, the Construction Management Team, and the Gomde Retreat Center landowners who have generously allowed this project to be implemented on their property.
Note: this tour may be able to catch up with Pikeminnow weir project site in Indian Creek
Usal Watershed Tour
Tour Leaders: Karen Youngblood, Forest Conservation Specialist, Redwood Forest Foundation/Usal Redwood Forest Company; Tom Leroy, Pacific Watershed Associates, Dave Wright (recently retired from TNC) and Trout Unlimited
Usal Watershed is a small coastal watershed (17,600-acre basin) that formally supported the most northern population of Central California Coast Coho. The last Coho identified in the Usal watershed was in 2013. Significant aggradation from the ’97 landslide may have been the tipping point. This tour will take a look at all the sites where restoration work has occurred across the watershed from 2010 to present. This will include LW loading (accelerated recruitment) and road decommissioning of streamside legacy roads on NF Usal Creek, SF Usal Creek, Julias Creek, Soldier Creek and mainstem Usal Creek. The question remains if Coho will return, though a healthy steelhead population remains.
If time permits, this tour will culminate at the outlet of Usal Creek at Usal beach in the Sinkyone Wilderness