community watershed restoration since 1983

Mattole Field Institute

The MRC’s Mattole Field Institute is working with support from Humboldt County Economic Development’s Headwaters Fund to plan for increased local resilience, including economic, climate, and rural community resilience. We are currently exploring the potential for an integrated Resilience, Education, and Research Center that would serve many of the interlocking needs present in our local communities – needs expressed by community members, business owners, local organizations, and those interested in expanding opportunities for resilience, education and field research.

We are grateful for the hard work of four Cal Poly Humboldt students, who created an initial planning document exploring many aspects of creating a Resilience, Education, and Research Center in the lower Mattole.
Read about their work in the downloadable Rural Resilience Planning Report.
Stay Tuned for a more thorough, MRC-authored Mattole Field Institute Resilience, Education, and Research Center Feasibility Study, anticipated completion by February 2023.
If you are interested in this work and want to learn more, reach out to

In the spring of 2012, the Mattole Restoration Council launched the Mattole Field Institute with the aim of providing 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 from various fields 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 an August 2018 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 2018 course.


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 partner with Dr. Erin Kelly and Dr. Anthony Silvaggio of HSU’s interdisciplinary Environment & Community graduate program every August 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.

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.

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:

Our Spring Series for 2017 included classes in sustainable seaweed harvesting, wildlife tracking, bird identification, medicinal herbs ID and preparation, and local geology:

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!

In the Spring of 2014 the Field Institute offered a great course in Estuarine Dynamics and Habitat Restoration. Here are some photo highlights: