The Conservancy at 40 Years: The Eel River

eelWild and untamed, the Eel River is California’s third largest river system. Once the fourth largest producer of salmon on the Pacific Coast, its salmon runs once exceeded one million fish per year. From headwaters to the sea, the Coastal Conservancy and its partners have worked hard to restore fisheries, protect working lands and enhance the beauty and agricultural viability of this region.

Since awarding the Humboldt Resource Conservation District its first grant in 1990 to work on the Salt River in Ferndale, the Coastal Conservancy has played a pivotal role in advancing landscape scale, ecosystem and agricultural enhancement projects to the fertile Eel River Delta. Now entering its fifth construction season, the Salt River Ecosystem Restoration Project has restored 326 acres of salt marsh, 94 acres of riparian habitat, 10 miles of river and slough habitat, 16 acres of freshwater wetlands and 750 acres of productive pasture in Ferndale that now drains effectively through a restored tidal slough system.

Now the Conservancy is leading a similar project comprising 2,000-acres within the nearby historic Centerville Slough. The Eel River Estuary and Centerville Slough Project seeks to achieve similar benefits for agriculture, while also restoring more than 100 acres of salt marsh and several miles of tidal slough that has filled with sediment. In addition, this project would restore fish passage into the newly restored slough system following more than 100 years of closure to aquatic life.

On the north side of the Eel Delta, the Coastal Conservancy is working closely with our partners at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Ducks Unlimited to develop a similar enhancement project at Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ocean Ranch property.

This is a great time for the Eel River!

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