community watershed restoration since 1983

Mattole Field Institute

Thanks to everyone who braved the intense winds to participate in the King Range Alliance’s hike to the Punta Gorda elephant seals!
Feb 8 was perhaps the windiest day any of us have experienced, but it was still so heartening to see so many people, of all ages, with such interest in learning about local wildlife.
Stay tuned for additional upcoming hikes brought to you by King Range Alliance partners.

Below: participants in our August 2018 Socioeconomics of Natural Resources field course talk with headwaters residents about the land use history of their homestead.

The Mattole Field Institute currently offers two intensive field courses in partnership with Humboldt State University. Each May, we partner with Dr. Alison O’Dowd in the department of Environmental Science & Management to offer a week-long field course in Watershed Restoration. Students in this course benefit from opportunities to visit a broad array of restoration project sites, accompanied by staff from all 3 Mattole River and Range Partnership organizations (MRC, Mattole Salmon Group, and Sanctuary Forest, Inc.) as well as agency staff from various federal and/or state agencies.

We also, every August, partner with Dr. Erin Kelly and Dr. Anthony Silvaggio of HSU’s interdisciplinary Environment & Community graduate program to offer a week-long field course in the Socioeconomics of Natural Resource Use in the Mattole Valley. This intensive field course is designed to give beginning graduate students a first taste of social science research, and includes opportunities to talk with Mattole Valley residents about various aspects of our community, culture, and economies.

The Mattole Field Institute also offers a series of shorter, free, 1-day field courses each spring in years when funding is available.

Our Spring Series for 2017 included classes in sustainable seaweed harvesting, wildlife tracking, bird identification, medicinal herbs ID and preparation, and local geology. We hope to offer a similar set of free field courses in 2018; check back soon for updates.

Please contact Flora Brain for more information on upcoming courses, or if you would like to co-design a field course with Mattole Field Institute:

Above: August 2018 students gather beneath one of the largest black walnut trees in the U.S., while visiting with Bob Stansberry on his Mattole River ranch.


Above: participants in our spring 2017 Wildlife Tracking field course learned tracking techniques from instructor Kim Cabrera (center,) who also learned from local residents both young and old(er).  

Above: Spring 2017 participants learned how to identify and sustainably harvest various local edible seaweeds.

Students in the May 2015 field course in Watershed Restoration visit stream bank stabilization and groundwater recharge project sites in the Mattole River headwaters with Richard Gienger (left).

In the spring of 2012, the Mattole Restoration Council launched the Mattole Field Institute. The Field Institute aims to provide place-based, hands-on instruction in topics related to Mattole watershed restoration. Courses encompass a broad range of curriculum areas, recognizing that ecological restoration is most effective when cross-pollinated with studies including sociology, history, politics, and literature.

We are always so grateful for the participation of local community members who so generously share their perspectives. In the words of one student at the conclusion of a recent August field course in Socioeconomics of Natural Resources, “The trip allowed me to access years of study and experience and understand academic theory as it functions in real communities.”

Another student reflected: “This community has such a unique relationship with their natural resources. I believed rural communities were somewhat more connected to their Natural Resources before taking this course. I learned how complex and historically based these relationships are.”

Click here to read some of the students’ evaluations of the August course.

Please contact Flora Brain for more information on upcoming courses, or if you would like to co-design a field course with Mattole Field Institute:

Below are photos from our May 2015 field course in Watershed Restoration. We are so grateful to have had such a fantastic group of students, undergrads and grad students alike, and to be joined by such an amazing community of restorationists here in the Mattole Valley! Thanks to everyone who came out to participate in this course.


Students tour a private oak woodland with a Mattole landowner and a NRCS Forester to learn about oak ecology and conservation.


Students in the May 2015 field course learn about the history of Mattole headwaters conservation and salmonid restoration from Richard Gienger (far left), Flora Brain (second from left) and BLM Fisheries Biologist A.J. Donnell (3rd from left, with hat).


Students in the May 2015 field course learn techniques for sampling aquatic macroinvertebrates


Students visit with Tasha McKee of Sanctuary Forest to learn about community water storage efforts in Whitethorn.


Spring 2015 students investigate a tree core from a large Douglas-fir to try to determine local forest stand conditions roughly 150 years ago.


Students visit a groundwater recharge project site on Baker Creek in the Mattole headwaters with BLM Fisheries Biologist A.J. Donnell (center).

The Field Institute’s other offerings included a course in Estuarine Dynamics and Habitat Restoration, held in the spring of 2014.  Here are some photos from the course:

IMG_3990  P1070524

P1070396  Faubion_1770

Learning about native plant propagation with MRC Native Plant Nursery Manager Monica Scholey  invasives-crew-red

hugh  P1070388