community watershed restoration since 1983

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Helicopter arrives to help fish

From my office window I’m watching the massive, double blade helicopter ‘Chinook’ land in the staging field. Over the next two days, local crews led by the Mattole Salmon Group, in partnership with BLM, will oversee the placement of 200 whole, intact large trees in the Mattole Estuary.  These trees will provide much needed habitat for fish, and will be added to the 200 trees that were placed in 2013. The trees come from the adjacent hillside, and are donated by the landowner to reduce Douglas fir encroachment of his grazing area- which means this is also helping to reclaim grasslands. Why a helicopter? This helicopter can carry an entire tree- root wad, branches, and trunk- unlike other heavy equipment. This whole tree provides the complexity that fish need, and helps the tree stay lodged in the Estuary for longer than a simple log. This means almost no hardware to anchor it, no large boulders trucked into the Mattole, and no need for extensive logging roads to access the trees. Also, helicopters can place a tree in a matter of minutes– which means that more wood is placed in a matter of days that we’ve had placed in decades of work.

For more about this and all the other work being done in the Estuary, see and information on the last round of heli-wood:

If you are local, you can watch the helicopter while enjoying hot dogs and hamburgers at the viewing point on Lighthouse Road today (Monday Sept 19), and Prosper Ridge tomorrow (Tuesday Sept 20) from 11am-2pm.


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Win a Year’s Supply of Gold Rush Coffee!

What does coffee have to do with native plants? The Mattole Restoration Council and Gold Rush Coffee are partnering to bring you the opportunity to support your local native plant nursery AND win delicious, locally roasted coffee.





Win 3 lbs Gold Rush coffee per month for 12 months ~$400 value
Available for local pick-up, or shipped to you monthly

How: Buy tickets online here or come by our Petrolia office

When: Drawing will be held at the MRC Hoophouse Hoedown at our new nursery site on July 9th
*You don’t need to be present to win

All proceeds will support the Mattole Restoration Council’s new, larger capacity native plant nursery

Gold Rush Coffee is a local, family business roasting premium coffees from around the world. Our small-batch roasting process ensures freshness, while 25 years of experience enhances each blend. We think our coffees are among the best available.IMG_8570

The Mattole Restoration Council is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, FID 68-0037149.

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Mattole River Estuary Project Update

Thanks to The Nature Conservancy for this great piece on the Mattole Estuary Project!

Restoring the Mattole River Estuary – Defense for the Drought?

Large wood structures have been added to enhance salmon habitat in the Mattole River estuary. In the foreground, construction equipment helps build the deep trenched willow baffles on the upstream side of the newly restored slough channel. © Abi Queen

Slough excavation site during project work. © Nathan Queener

Close-up of a large wood structure and the slough excavation. © Abi Queen

Yellow marks show where whole trees are added at the mouth of the slough. Upstream of the main slough excavation site, blue lines represent the first 50 feet of the trenches where whole trees with root wads were placed. Black lines represent the remainder of the trenches, where logs and willow cuttings were placed. © Mattole Salmon Group

Last winter’s drought impacted many things, including the coho, Chinook salmon, and steelhead that live in the Mattole River. A significant portion of the returning adult coho and Chinook this past fall and winter were limited to the lower Mattole River downstream of Honeydew due to low flows. The result? Fish spawned where they could in the lower river, rather than heading further upstream where the normally go and where stream habitat is better for growing fish. So what can we do about this situation? What will the young fish do?

What can we do?

We accelerate our efforts to restore the habitat they can reach – by returning the Mattole estuary back to a healthy estuary/lagoon with deep pools and extensive riparian and slough habitat.

The “Cohotel” – Side-Channel Refuge for Coho

There is a complex of elevated slough channels along the south bank of the Mattole River estuary that were disconnected from the river after the 1992 Triple Junction earthquakes uplifted the area by 3-5 feet, and subsequent deposition from over-bank flows filled in the old river channels. This slough restoration project excavated 250 feet of one of these historic channels to create off-channel habitat for juvenile salmonids in the summer of 2014. This slack-water habitat will have cooler water temperatures than the main river and an abundance of insects (food for juvenile salmonids) from the extensive over-hanging riparian vegetation. It will serve as a refuge from high water velocities in the winter and be a veritable paradise of cool water temperatures and abundant food in the summer. The work dredging the old, filled-in and uplifted slough channel was finished in early July. We have also completed extensive terrace margin treatments with willows, whole trees, wooden posts and logs, and thousands of willow cuttings. The willow and wood trenches are designed to lengthen the life of the slough excavation area by providing hardness (vegetation and logs) upstream. When the terrace gets inundated with water, the willow will also help to settle fine sediment upstream of the slough channel.

Helicoptering in “Log Cabins” for Fish

Two hundred Douglas fir trees were helicoptered into the estuary to accelerate the rebuilding of fish habitat. In summer, fish can rest in these deeper, cooler pools created by these log structures (see close-up on left) when flows are low, and in winter, shelter from the high flows. Flying in the logs took only 11 hours! This restoration project was fast and actually cheaper than trucking them in.

Now we wait for the fish to grow fat and healthy in their new homes.


Project Partners

In 2012, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), working with local landowners, watershed groups, and numerous other state and federal agencies, developed a 5-Year Restoration Plan for the estuary/lower river on BLM lands.

The slough project partners are the Mattole Salmon Group and the Mattole Restoration Council who are completing all of the associated willow planting work, and Patrick Queen, a local heavy equipment operator and problem solver. Funding comes from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, with funding and staff support from the Bureau of Land Management, and tree donations from Ellen Taylor and Michael Evenson.

The helicopter wood project was led by the Mattole Salmon Group, with funding and technical support from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, The Nature Conservancy, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Read more about the slough project and helicoptor wood project.



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Prosper Prairie Grasslands Restoration Update

From managing recreational activities to conserving natural and cultural resources to facilitating energy development, the responsibilities of the Bureau of Land Management in California are diverse and challenging.


Partners Helping to Restore Grasslands at Prosper Ridge

A team of hard working partners  recently planted thousands of grass plants on a coastal prairie overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Northern California,  contributing to an ongoing effort to restore 850 acres of grassland that has been impacted by encroaching shrubs and Douglas-fir trees.

workers along a ridge with ocean in background

Partners work along a ridge overlooking the Pacific, planting grass plants to restore a coastal prairie. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)

Staff from the local Mattole Restoration Council worked with  the Americorps Watershed Stewardship Project, applying eight species of grass seed and planting 30,000 plugs of six grass species over 18 acres of BLM-managed public land on Prosper Ridge near the community of Petrolia.  Neighborhood volunteers and community contractors had previously cleared shrubs and young trees from the restoration site.

woman swining a pick

A worker prepares a site for planting grass plant plugs. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)

Through this effort, BLM is enhancing the proportion of deep-rooted, native perennial grasses compared to non-native, annual and perennial grass species of lesser value.

Man planting a grass plant

A project participant plants grass plugs in  coastal prairie restoration work at Prosper Ridge, a public land area managed by the BLM Arcata Field Office. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)

Native plants were locally developed and annually propagated as part of the BLM Arcata Field Office’s participation with the BLM Seeds of Success program.  BLM botanist Jennifer Wheeler has been directing the program and attributes success to  a  cooperative partnership with the Mattole Restoration Council, a local non-profit group focusing on various aspects of watershed restoration in the Mattole watershed and adjacent areas in the King Range National Conservation Area.


The work now ongoing at Prosper Ridge is the result of about 13 years of close community coordination and planning that resulted in the Prosper Ridge Prairie Plan. The plan helps BLM meet one of the primary goals and objectives of the King Range National Conservation Area  Resource Management Plan (2005) to “maintain healthy, productive grasslands to encourage native species abundance and diversity.”

Piles of brush

Shrubs and young Douglas-fir trees were removed from the treatment sites and piled for later burning in the project to restore grasslands at Prosper Ridge. (Photo by Sonny Anderson, BLM volunteer)

There are several phases in the restoration project.  The project began with mechanical removal of coyote brush and young Douglas-fir trees in predefined units to build buffer areas to meet community safety expectations and reduce fuel loads. After several years of treatment,  the BLM will use prescribed fire, timing the broadcast burns to maintain the area as a productive grassland.

Throughout the woody vegetation removal process, disturbed soil areas will be sown with native seed and clovers, and/or planted with native bunchgrass plugs to establish new colonies capable of their own reproduction and expansion.


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Burn Suspension Cancelled



California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection,

Humboldt-Del Norte Unit,


CONTACT: Paul Savona

Fire Captain Specialist

(707) 726-1221

RELEASE DATE: 10/29/2015


Humboldt and Del Norte Counties Burn Suspension Lifted

FORTUNA- Effective Monday, November 2, 2015 the burn suspension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties will be lifted. CAL FIRE Humboldt – Del Norte Unit Chief Hugh Scanlon is formally cancelling the burn suspension and advises that those possessing current and valid Non-Standard and Residential burn permits can now resume burning on permissible burn days.  Non Standard burn piles larger than 4’must be inspected by CAL FIRE prior to burning until the end of the peak fire season. To schedule an inspection or request information on burning requirements contact your local CAL FIRE Station.

CAL FIRE burn permits will be required in addition to Non Standard Air Quality Permits until the end of peak fire season. While cooler temperatures have helped to diminish the threat of wildfire, we are still in our fourth year of drought.  Property owners and residents are asked to use caution while conducting vegetation burns. Always use caution when burning, follow all guidelines provided, and maintain control of the fire at all times.  Individuals can be held civilly and/or criminally liable for allowing a fire to escape their control and/or burn onto neighboring property.

Residents wishing to burn MUST have a valid burn permit and verify it is a permissive burn day prior to burning.

Burn day information is available at 1-866-287-6329.

Pile Burning Requirements

  • Only dry, natural vegetative material such as leaves, pine needles and tree trimmings may be burned.
  • The burning of trash, processed wood or other debris is not allowed.
  • Do NOT burn on windy days.
  • Piles shall confirm to your permit requirements. Clear a 10 foot diameter down to bare soil around your piles.
  • Have a shovel and a water source nearby.
  • An adult is required to be in attendance of the fire at all times.


Safe residential pile burning of forest residue by landowners is a crucial tool in reducing fire hazards. State, Federal and Local land management and fire agencies will also be utilizing this same window of opportunity to conduct prescribed burns aimed at improving forest health on private and public lands.

For more information on burning, visit the CAL FIRE website at

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Updated Salmon Snapshot









How many fish do we have? What have we and our partner groups been up to? Want to know more about the Mattole? Check out the updated Salmon Snapshot for the Mattole River! Compiled by The Nature Conservancy from information from local groups and agencies, this site tallies the work done to date in the Mattole (and other watersheds) and provides population estimates for our fish.

Click here to check it out!

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Students clean 471 pounds of beach trash!

Thank you to all of the students, teachers, parents, and volunteers who turned out for Coastal Cleanup Day!  On September 18, students from Mattole Triple Junction, Mattole School, Honeydew School, and Independent Study programs partnered with community members and the Mattole Restoration Council to clean an impressive 471 pounds of trash from 7 Mile Beach!Ms

These 48 students and 21 adults filled 15 bags with trash and recycling, then returned to school to tally their collections as follows: 29 food wrappers, 1 cigarette butt, 6 fishing buoys/pots/traps, 76 meters of rope, 10 pieces of construction material, 2 tires, 81 plastic bottles, 22 glass bottles, 42 beverage cans, 11 plastic bags, 4 paper bags, 53 pieces of plastic or foam packaging, 30 plastic (non-beverage) bottles, 10 shoes, 5 metal stakes,  and ~1300 pieces of plastic micro trash.  Without the hard work of these students, this trash would have likely become marine debris, posing a risk to marine life and the health of our Ocean.

WalkingCoastal Cleanup Day is an annual event that started in Humboldt County 35 years ago by the Northcoast Environmental Center. This year, 400 Humboldt volunteers tackled 65 sites to collect 6-8 tons of debris.  Statewide, over 53,555 volunteers turned out on Coastal Clean-up Day to clean 307 tons of debris from 900 sites.

Great job students, and a special thank you to all the parents, teachers, MRC staff, and volunteers that turned out to help!

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Watershed Stewards Program AmeriCorps Internship Opportunities

WSPLOGOAmericorpslogoCCClogo      Join the Watershed
Stewards Program!

BLMAMAR_2014_10_14 (6)

Year 21 Mattole Restoration Council WSP members Kate and Kristy pulling invasive plants on the Lost Coast

  – Spend 10.5 months working alongside natural resource
professionals with one of WSP’s 22 organizations across the state (including the Mattole Restoration Council)

– Gain hands-on experience in the field

– Earn a total of $15,300, plus a $5,700 AmeriCorps education award

– Other benefits include: No-cost medical insurance,  industry recognized trainings, student loan forbearance, and access to WSP’s broad alumni network



Qualifications: Open to those 21+ with 25 credits of college-level science or 6 months of equivalent experience

For more information and the application, visit:


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