community watershed restoration since 1983

Mission and History

Mission Statement

The objectives and purpose of the Mattole Restoration Council are the restoration of natural systems in the Mattole River Watershed and their maintenance at sustainable levels of health and productivity, especially in regards to forests, fisheries, soil, and other plant and animal communities. The Mattole Restoration Council will pursue this goal by:

  • undertaking work in watershed rehabilitation and salmon enhancement in the context of watershed‐wide planning processes;
  • actively seeking affiliation with other groups in the Mattole watershed that share similar goals;
  • pursuing the education and involvement of watershed residents and landholders in the process of watershed recovery, maintenance and preservation of natural systems, and sustainable harvest techniques;
  • conducting research and encouraging the development of land‐use techniques and cultural and economic activities which further the sustained productivity of the resource base in the Mattole watershed;
  • entering into cooperative undertakings with private land owners and with federal, state, and county agencies toward the achievement of our goals;
  • encouraging the development of regional and watershed‐based self‐reliance through creative, productive and interdependent human relationships with the Mattole watershed;
  • advising individuals, agencies, and corporate entities whose activities might impact the health and productivity of the Mattole watershed; and
  • cooperating and communicating with community‐based groups with similar goals in other watersheds


We look forward to a Mattole has healthy, self-sustaining, productive forests, meadows, and streams, with abundant native fish and wildlife populations. We envision a community that draws its sustenance from and lives in harmony with the environment. We seek to understand processes of natural healing and enhance them using best land practices in harmony with the local environment. We seek to enhance the exchange of knowledge among all community members towards that goal. We look forward to a time in the Mattole watershed when “restoration” will no longer be needed.


In the late 1970s, residents of the Mattole Valley noticed a large decline in the numbers of returning salmon. Investigation led to the discovery that the salmon spawning habitat was being impacted by sediment. In 1978, residents within the Mattole River basin began proactive restoration efforts aimed at increasing salmon numbers.

historyphoto2  After these efforts failed to produce the desired results, it quickly became apparent that salmon do not live just in streams, they live in watersheds. In order to save the native salmon runs, residents would need to care for the whole system. This led to the formation of the Mattole Watershed Salmon Support Group (MWSSG) in 1980, as well as groups focused on smaller parts of the watershed. In 1983, the Mattole Restoration Council was founded by more than 30 Mattolians who gathered under the shade of the Council Madrone near Ettersburg. Its original intention was to provide support for the restoration of the Mattole River watershed, and bring together the various groups working on this effort under one community-based umbrella.

The Mattole Watershed Salmon Support Group evolved into the Mattole Salmon Group, which works directly with salmon and streams, while the Mattole Restoration Council assumed the work of public outreach and upslope restoration. The Salmon Group, the Restoration Council, and the Whitethorn-based land trust Sanctuary Forest often collaborate under the banner of the Mattole River and Range Partnership.

Since its inception, the Mattole Restoration Council has been at the forefront of community based watershed restoration. The activities of the Council have been featured in numerous articles, books, and videos on ecological restoration, both locally and internationally. The story of the Mattole restoration movement is known as the first community-based restoration effort in the state of California.

Today, the Mattole Restoration Council is actively working on riparian planting, grasslands restoration, sustainable forest management, public outreach, ecological education in the local public schools, water conservation, and hazardous fuels reduction.

You can download a timeline of much of our over 30 year history here!