community watershed restoration since 1983

Nick’s Interns – Application Process Open!

High school students! The application process for Nick’s Interns is now open. Spend 3 weeks this summer working with either the King Range BLM in Whitethorn, or the MRC in Petrolia. Not only will you be learning great new skills, but these are paid positions that will look great on your resume and college applications. More info and application here:

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Van Auken Timber Harvest Plan

The MRC is reviewing the Van Auken/Arken Timber Harvest Plan (THP) 1-16-081HUM through the public comment process. This is a big plan, especially considering the type of activities that are proposed. The forests are barely beginning to recover with trees averaging 55-70 years old. The landowner, Boyle (Barnum), has proposed harvesting over 500 acres that will pockmark the landscape in tributary watersheds in the Mattole headwaters with some units in the Eel River watershed. There are 36 units total, with almost 200 ac

Photo Credit: Galen Doherty, Sanctuary Forest

Photo Credit: Galen Doherty, Sanctuary Forest

res being clearcut and another 100 being rehabilitated. This will mean almost 300 acres of cleared ground when operations are completed. The entire plan will use tractors or ground-based equipment to remove logs with an option to use cable yarding. Other flags include multiple stream crossings, some steep slopes, and the use of herbicides.

The MRC urges the public to comment on this plan. The process is still open for public comment as of March 2017. Check back here for updates. To understand the public comment process, go to the CAL FIRE website here:

It is particularly important to understand the plan through the eyes of the Pre-Harvest Inspection reports. To view the contents of the plan and any reports filed go here:

Several of the tributaries: Van Arken, McKee and Ravashoni are part of a campaign by Sanctuary Forest to purchase the property for conservation. The forests and the entire Van Arken tributary would be protected into the future nurturing salmon, amphibians, and forest creatures for all of us. MRC cannot stress enough the importance of this project to our watershed. For more information, please go here:

To download a sample letter, click this  attachment sample-comment-letter-vanarken

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2016 Coastal Cleanup-A Success!

dsc_0479_groupw_unityThe morning sun rose over the golden hills of the Mattole Valley promising a beautiful day for the annual California Coastal Cleanup.

On Friday, September 16, the Mattole Restoration Council (MRC) teamed up with the Mattole and Honeydew schools to participate in the largest volunteer event in the state of California. This event was the 3rd consecutive year that the MRC has combined forces with the local schools to participate in the cleanup and, once again, it proved to be a success. With almost 60 volunteers, students and adults paired into teams to scour the beaches near McNutt Gulch and collected over 176 pounds of trash! Some particularly interesting items were discovered including a crab trap, some metal sheet roofing and some large plastic objects with Japanese writing on them.

The 2015 California Coastal Cleanup efforts resulted in the collection of 1,142,977 pounds of trash from beaches all over the state and in Humboldt County a total of 13,435 pounds of marine debris were removed from our local beaches. Keeping our beaches clean is not only important to preserve the natural beauty of our coastline but is also vital to prevent harm to marine wildlife. These animals (and even people!) can be harmed and sometimes killed by marine debris in various ways including entanglement, ingestion and the disruption of their natural habitat. Every piece of trash that is collected and removed from our beaches can potentially save an animal’s life. So hats off to each and every volunteer that participated in this year’s Coastal Cleanup and we look forward to seeing you out there again next year!

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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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Help us build our new Native Plant Nursery


We have outgrown our current location and are moving our native plant nursery. Our new facility will be operational in April, 2016. The new nursery will be located on Chambers road just past the school. Currently we grow about 50,000 native grasses, shrubs, and trees. With our new facilities we will be able to grow up to 200,000 native plants. Our new facility will have two greenhouses, an expanded parking area, a shade structure, outdoor work space, and an expanded native plant demonstration garden.IMG_0745

We have broken ground on our new site! We still have a lot of work ahead of us and there are a variety of different ways you can become involved and help us make this transition.

How to Support Us

There are several upcoming events in which you can help.

March 25th AND 27th The Great Nursery Migration Volunteer Events! We will meet at the Mattole Valley Community Center at noon on Friday, 3/25 and at 10am on Sunday, 3/27. Come be a part of a big change at the Mattole Restoration Council. Click here for more details.

July 9th Hoop House Hoedown! We will have a barbecue, music, dancing, and more. There is also a raffle with the opportunity to win great prizes. Click here for more details.


We are trying to raise $40,000 for nursery move and upgrades. We need your help.

Click here to support us

$50 will help us buy nursery propagation benches

$100 will help us buy greenhouse plastic and greenhouse building materials

$500 will help us buy lumber, water tanks, building materials

$1,000 will help us buy a solar system

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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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