Times Standard (Eureka)
‘Eel Zoom Friday’
The Eel River Recovery Project will be presenting “Eel Zoom Friday” at 5 p.m. starting this Friday through May 28 on topics of interest about the Eel River watershed, including forest health, salmon run trends, Sacramento pikeminnow management, how watersheds work, how flow has changed, salmon parks, toxic cyanobacteria and more.
These free presentations will be made by various experts, but in a fun and playful way suited for the Friday “happy hour” timing of presentations.
Since 2012, Eel River Recovery Project Managing Director Patrick Higgins has been assisting citizen scientists around the watershed with monitoring, visiting hundreds of locations and all the while photo and video documenting fish life. Higgins will kick off the Eel Zoom series on Friday by sharing his best pictures and videos in a presentation titled the “Secret Lives of Eel River Fishes Revealed.” Topics will include salmon run trends.
On April 16, Native American sage Ernie Merrifield, who was recently featured in the KEET-TV documentary “Harmony in the Eel River Basin,” will join forest health scientist and organizer Tim Bailey to talk about why people need to work on improving forest and grassland health at the Eel River watershed scale now.
On April 23, three scientific experts will make presentations on Eel River Toxic Cyanobacteria. Keith Bouma-Gregson earned his degree from the University of California Berkeley for his work on Eel River cyanobacteria that he will summarize. Rich Fadness of the North Coast Water Board is also an Eel River cyanobacteria expert, and will talk about lesserknown toxic species. His new associate, Michael Thomas, will also join discussions.
Zoom in on April 30 to learn about the Lower Eel Salmon Parkway, which includes a development of a trail along the old railroad right of way that would be a segment of the Great Redwood Trail, and restoration of critical salmon holding habitat. Higgins will talk about rejuvenating the river by restoring the cottonwood gallery forests on river terraces to focus river energy and scour a deeper channel and pools. Adam Canter of the Wiyot Tribe Natural Resources Department will talk about the tribe’s connection to the lower Eel River and the tribe’s hope for its future. Fortuna City Manager Merritt Perry will express support for this project and talk about how it fits into the city’s recreation plans.
On May 7, Higgins will be joined by Potter Valley Tribe EPA Director Gregg Young and Robin Leler of the Redwood Chapter Sierra Club to talk about the possibility of an Upper Eel River Salmon Park. This concept involves transfer of PG&E lands within the Potter Valley Project to the Mendocino National Forest so they can restore salmon habitat between the dams, maximize recreation potential and also implement forest health.
Controlling the invasive pikeminnow will be the subject of a May 14 Zoom. Stillwater Sciences fisheries biologist Abel Brumo assists the Wiyot Tribe in experimental pikeminnow control and will discuss the project. Bureau of Land Management fish biologist Zane Ruddy discovered pikeminnow in the North Fork Eel River and will talk about attempts to control them there. Higgins will summarize South Fork Eel River pikeminnow trends since Eel River Recovery Project studies began in 2016, and make a case for why this species needs to be controlled to allow native fish recovery.
Zoom in on May 21 to listen to David Dralle, who is part of the Angelo Reserve Critical Zone Observatory study team, and Eli Asarian of Riverbend Sciences present on the topic of “How Watersheds Work and Flow Changes Over Time.” Dralle will talk about how water storage in hillslopes works and how geology effects flow in the Eel River watershed. Asarian will recap the findings of his Eel River flow study sponsored by Friends of Eel River and present hypotheses on why flows changed over time. He will also include discussion of water conservation and watershed restoration that could help augment flows in the future.
The last Eel Zoom presentation on May 28 will feature retired Six Rivers National Forest archaeologist Thomas Keter, who will talk about the littleknown North Fork Eel River. He not only studied the archaeology of the watershed, but also helped map its vegetation. Keter concluded that prohibition of Native American burning 160 years ago resulted in major ecological shifts and drops in productivity and extraordinary fire risk.
For more information about how to sign up for these Zoom events, visit www.eelriverrecovery.org or go to the ERRP Facebook page.
Eel Zoom is supported by a Cereus Fund grant.