By Frank Hartzell
that huge plate of salmon at the World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue is more than
just delicious and a fun part of the Fort Bragg celebration of our nation’s most
patriotic holiday. From its inception,
the event has been designed to help bring back the salmon through the
non-profit Salmon Restoration Association.
The SRA invites political and business leaders to be celebrity chefs
each year as part of its educational efforts, an idea that has been part of the
event since the 1970s. The money raised
is used to fund actual restoration of legacy logging and development scarred
streams and rivers, as well as community
education. That fundraising has ranged
from salmon hatcheries to training young prospective biologists. The SRA is always open to new ideas.
a ticket to the 2014 World's Largest Salmon Barbecue will help the Skunk Train
and the Salmon Restoration Association get started on working together to help
restore salmon on streams that flow into the Noyo River. With the Skunk Train
already partnering with Save the Redwoods, this is a second recent big
environmental effort. The plan is to
restore the salmon that the Skunk's tracks have interfered with over the
The Salmon Restoration Association plans to
partner with Trout Unlimited, the Skunk Train and others to help reduce
sediment and improve stream crossings along the Noyo River. The SRA uses funds
from its annual barbecue to help with salmon restoration and educational
efforts. The proposal currently being
considered seeks to reduce sedimentation into the Noyo River and its
tributaries at nine high priority sediment source sites along the Skunk Train
railway. Trout Unlimited hopes to partner with Pacific Watershed Associates to
implement site specific prescriptions. Of the nine proposed sites, three have
adequate culverts but will be treated for unstable soils that are likely to end
up in the river during a flood. The
other six sites contain failing and/or undersized culverts, which would be
replaced, said Lisa Bolton of Trout Unlimited.
“Treatment of these high priority sediment
source sites will address high priority coho recovery tasks in both state and
federal recovery plans and will prevent a substantial amount of episodic and
catastrophic sediment from entering the Noyo River and its tributaries,” Bolton
told the SRA.
The SRA is currently working with proposals for
working on the Upper Noyo with the Skunk and others. All involved hope to get
going by 2016, but the actual project is likely to be changed during the grant
process. The current
estimated cost of the proposal is approximately $400,000, with SRA looking to
contribute $30,000. The SRA has funded a wide
variety of local restoration efforts, salmon studies and educational efforts.
As part of
its educational mission, the SRA uses moneys from the World’s Largest Salmon
Barbecue to help fund the SONAR (School of Natural Resources) program at
Mendocino High School. The program began there in 2001 and has now accumulated
12 years of meaningful, scientific data which is collected in partnership with
the Department of Fish and Wildlife (under the direction of Sean Gallagher) and
California Department of Parks and Recreation.
study not only the biology and ecology of our local ocean, river and stream
systems, but also learn the scientific protocols for actual field research, and
how to write accurate science reports.
the students collect is used by California Department of Fish and Wildlife
(DFW) and National Oceanographic and Aeronautical Administration (NOAA) and
incorporated into their studies of marine and estuarial ecology.
school sophomores and juniors are taught the scientific protocols for the study
of adult and juvenile fish, redds (nests), crabs, shrimp and other species.
Surveys are done in the Big River estuary, at a location near Camp 2 in the
Woodlands and in the intertidal pools off the Mendocino Headlands. A few high
school seniors serve as assistants. Many SONAR students have gone on to
university studies and careers in biology and environmental science.
Restoration Association has provided grants for the past three years to
maintain the SONAR program as a two-course curriculum of natural science and
English. Biology teacher Robert Jamgochian team-teaches the double course with
Doug Nunn, who introduces students to literature about nature and hones their
open to new grant applications from any group doing salmon restoration or
education. Other than the Mendocino High SONAR program, there are several that
SRA has funded and may do so in the future:
River Watershed. Funding from the World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue has been key
to the very recent opening up of 12 miles of the Big River Watershed, mostly to
endangered coho salmon.
2012, the Big River Program of Mendocino Land Trust funded the removal of two
dams: one from the Little North Fork of Big River and one from Water Gulch.
These dams were preventing juvenile salmon from accessing 9.5 and 2.6 miles of
suitable upstream habitat, respectively. The California Conservation Corps used
jackhammers to remove the concrete structure on the Little North Fork while the
Water Gulch dam required the use of heavier equipment.
the Big River Program contracted with HDR Engineering to develop a design to
address another barrier on lower James Creek. This barrier prevents adult coho
from reaching upstream spawning grounds except in very wet years. The goal of
the finished design is to allow for eventual passage upstream (4.6 miles) 80
percent of the time.
that prevent migration of endangered coho salmon (as well as some chinook
salmon and migratory steelhead trout) to their natal streams are one of the
major contributors to declining populations. Within the Big River watershed a
few barriers still remain in the form of culverts that were improperly designed
or installed and a few dams. These barriers may block adult or juvenile salmon
from upstream migration, depending on the height of the structure and the
velocity of the water.
projects funded in recent years;
for the James Creek Sediment Assessment and Fish Passage Planning Project.
for a salmon survey on Anderson Creek, a tributary to the Eel River.
to help locals understand the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative.
as part of a $150,000 Noyo Watershed Alliance effort to replace a blocking
salmon passage from the Noyo River into Kass Creek. A film of the Kass Creek
restoration was done by Campbell Timberlands, paid for by the SRA and produced
through the Noyo Watershed Alliance.
The Skunk Train, which first cut a path to Willits in 1911 has
recently become more environmentally friendly.
When the Skunk Train suffered a disastrous cave in, Save the Redwoods
League provided $300,000 to acquire an option for purchase of a conservation
easement that will permanently protect the ancient redwoods along the train's
famous "Redwoods Route" including the Noyo River Watershed. The route that once helped haul the ancient
forests over the hill now seeks to preserve and enhance the redwoods as well as
restore salmon populations, greatly reduced by legacy logging and other human