Hi Friends,

I know you just heard from us last week, but we have more breaking news to share! This week we notified the Humboldt County Supervisors of our intent to file a lawsuit over their failure to consider impacts to public trust values while managing groundwater use. We will ask the court to require the County to develop a regulatory mechanism for curtailing groundwater use when conditions necessitate. See below for additional details.

While we're focusing on the lower Eel basin, I want to highlight some exciting restoration work and an opportunity to help cleanup the estuary. Recently we toured the Ocean Ranch Restoration Project in the Eel River Wildlife Area. The Eel River Wildlife Area is a 2,600 acre complex in the Eel River estuary (mostly on the north side of the river) that contains salt marsh, pasture, wet meadow, brackish marsh, coastal scrub, and dunes. See below for a spotlight on the restoration project. Later this month you can join us in the Eel estuary for a beach cleanup at Crab Park as part of Coastal Cleanup Month.

And we're still looking for volunteers to help us at our booth during the North Country Fair in Arcata on Sept 16 and 17. Just a couple hours helping to raise funds and share our work can be a huge help! See below for more info.

For the fish, 

Alicia Hamann
Protecting Public Trust in the Lower River

There is a significant opportunity to recover runs of salmon and steelhead in the Eel River, and a wide range of entities are working on projects throughout the entire watershed to realize this opportunity. Tribes, state and federal wildlife agencies, commercial and recreational fishing industry representatives, and conservation groups like Friends of the Eel River are all working together to remove dams, restore estuary habitat, and improve water quality. But sadly, the County appears to be neglecting its duty to protect surface flows in the lower river, and thus the public trust values associated with a flowing river.

In the last several years we’ve seen flows in the lower river entirely disconnect, an extraordinarily rare event in the Eel, even with its extreme ranges of flows. We’ve seen fish develop unprecedented disease, including a virus unknown to experts at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and just last year state wildlife officials had to physically dig channels to maintain connectivity just as salmon were preparing to migrate upriver.

According to data the county generated in the course of preparing their Groundwater Sustainability Plan, groundwater pumping reduces the flow just upstream of Fernbridge by about 14 cfs in the summer. However, during dry summers, minimum flows just upstream at the Scotia gauge range from 15 – 27 cfs. This means that during especially dry times – which we all know are occurring more frequently –  groundwater pumping in the lower river is reducing surface flows by at least 50%, often times far more.

The County has the authority to develop regulatory mechanisms to protect surface flows by monitoring and, when necessary, curtailing groundwater pumping. This is why we have notified the board that we intend to seek a court order requiring the County to prepare a management plan, and in the meantime to cease permitting of new well-drilling in the lower Eel River Valley groundwater basin.

Read our letter to Humboldt County.
Read our press release.
Ocean Ranch Restoration Project
Ocean Ranch Unit mapThe Ocean Ranch Unit of the Eel River Wildlife Area is ancestral land of the Wiyot people. The land was managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the last fifty years using a series water control structures including levees, berms, and tidal gates. Over time, these water control mechanisms have repeatedly failed, leading the Department to discontinue maintenance of artificial wetlands and embrace restoring estuarine habitat. 
A photo of the project location | CDFW
Freshly excavated channel on our foggy visit 
The Ocean Ranch Restoration Project will restore and enhance tidal marsh and dune habitat, including 571 acres of restored saltmarsh and 279 acres of coastal dunes. The three elements of the project include tidal estuary restoration, which involves removing water control mechanisms and excavating tidal channels; invasive species control of dense-flowered cordgrass (Spartina desiflora) and European beach grass (Ammophila arenaria); and public access improvement including a new parking area, non-motorized boat launch, and trails.

This project is a collaborative effort between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited, with coordination and input from the Wiyot Tribe and the US Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge System. 
WHAT: Coastal Cleanup with Friends of the Eel River
WHEN: Saturday September 24, 10 AM - 2 PM
WHERE: Crab Park, Cannibal Island Rd, Loleta, CA

Folks who attend this event will be entered into NEC's weekly prize raffle for a chance to win fun items from local businesses!

Cleanup supplies will be provided. Feel free to bring your own cleanup gear, if you prefer.

WHAT: Volunteer in our booth at the North Country Fair. Help us raise awareness about our work and sell merchandise.
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, September 17 &18. Volunteer shifts between 11am - 5pm
WHERE: Arcata Plaza
In this newsletter:

- Groundwater Litigation 

- Ocean Ranch Restoration Project

- Volunteer at: 
Crab Park Coastal Cleanup
North Country Fair 
Shop our merch!

Click here to shop

On KHUM (104.7 FM) every Saturday at 10am

SUBSCRIBE to the podcast

Our mailing address is: PO Box 4945 Arcata, CA 95518

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

View this email in your browser

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp