community watershed restoration since 1983

Postponed- Science and Restoration on Unstable Terrain

This course is no longer being offered for summer 2017, it will be offered in summer 2018.

For an explanation of the course concept, please click here.

The Mattole River flows through an exceptionally dynamic landscape on Humboldt County’s Lost Coast.  Salmon historically thrived here despite periodic disturbances from earthquakes and intense storms, but massive clear-cutting in the mid-20th century set the stage for widespread loss of habitat resulting from accelerated erosion, heavy precipitation, excessive suspended fine sediment loads, channel siltation and aggradation.  The river and its basin have been naturally recovering since, encouraged by habitat restoration projects.  The Mattole is an excellent setting in which to observe interactions among physical, ecological and social systems, with a strong data set from extensive citizen monitoring. For a more detailed description of the Mattole watershed, click here and here for a map of the area.  Join us for a 5-day field course exploring the scientific and practical challenges of stream restoration in this unstable terrain. Daily lectures, discussion, and field tours to field sites (including restoration projects) cover a range of topics from geomorphology, salmonid habitat restoration, in-stream flow enhancement, Mediterranean rivers ecology, and more. To see the North Fork of the Mattole via recent drone footage, click here. Course background readings are available for download.

Course fees include dinners and accommodations, and are $1,000 or $500 for students. Please follow this link to register.


G. Mathias (Matt) Kondolf, Professor of Environmental Planning,University of California Berkeley

Matt Kondolf is a fluvial geomorphologist specializing in environmental river management and restoration. At Berkeley heteaches courses in hydrology, river restoration,and environmental science and planning. His research focuses on human-river interactions, with emphasis on managing of flood-prone lands, managing sediment in rivers and reservoirs, and river restoration, and has publishedextensively on these topics. His book Tools in Fluvial Geomorphology(2nd edition, Wiley) is a reference in the field.  He has served as advisor to US and state agencies on river management and restoration, and provided expert testimony before the US Congress, the California Legislature, the US Supreme Court, and the International Court of Justice and Permanent Court of Arbitration in the

Danny Hagans, Pacific Watershed Associates

Mr. Hagans has extensive experience in conducting large scale, basin-wide erosion inventories and assessments, as well as implementing watershed rehabilitation and restoration projects in Northern California and elsewhere. Since joining Pacific Watershed Associates in 1990, Mr. Hagans has managed and conducted a variety of projects related to wildland hydrology and erosion processes, including sediment source assessments of over 2000 mi2 of managed forest land and erosion inventories and sediment reduction plans for literally thousands of miles of wildland forest roads, ranch roads, rural subdivision roads, vineyard roads, parkland roads, and county maintained public roads throughout California.

Tommy Williams, NOAA Fisheries

I am interested in the ecology of Pacific salmon and trout and how populations track changes in the environment. This interest relates to how populations (or individuals, group of populations, ESU, species, community) persist and how constraints on the ability of fish to track change limit the ability of the organizational unit to persist and directly relates to my interest in stream restoration and conservation of native fish and their habitats.

Current field research includes a project with steelhead populations in small stream systems along the Big Sur coast of California. Of particular interest are the dynamics of the local population(s), anadromy versus non-anadromy within basins, and interaction among adjacent basins that allows the O. mykiss populations in this region of the California coast to track changes in the environment. Various field techniques being used include PIT tagging (mobile and fixed antenna), mark-recapture, genetics, and age/growth analysis.

Alison O’Dowd, Humboldt State University

Dr. O’Dowd’s research interests are within the areas of aquatic ecology and ecological restoration. Specifically I study stream and wetland restoration, the ecology and eradication of invasive species, the impacts of wildfire on stream communities, and the biological significance of step-pool sequences in mountain streams. My research methods focus on using benthic macroinvertebrates as indicators of water quality in urban and natural freshwater ecosystems.  I conduct much of my research through Humboldt State University’s River Institute

Tasha McKee, Sanctuary Forest

Tasha McKee is a fourth-generation Mattole Valley resident and has served  as Sanctuary Forest’s Water Program Director from 2003 -2016, during which time she has coordinated and managed multi-million dollar projects and budgets, and worked closely with agencies, contractors, funders, and landowners on restoration and monitoring projects. Tasha is the author of the “Options and Obstacles” report on Mattole low flows and has played a key role in the development of the Mattole Flow Program, including practical solutions development, funding and implementation, community and landowner outreach, monitoring and research, and education on the low flow issue. Tasha also worked to develop groundwater restoration strategies – recognizing that land use impacts and climate change were causing low flows in many tributaries with no human use. She facilitated the formation of a collaborative team of agencies and scientist to evaluate land use impacts to hydrologic functions and develop restoration strategies to address these impacts.

Nathan Queener, Mattole Restoration Council and Mattole Salmon Group

Nathan has worked for the MRC since 2007, with a focus on the design and implementation of approaches to monitoring instream sediment conditions in the watershed, and analysis of trends in stream habitat conditions. Nathan also co-coordinates MSG juvenile and adult salmonid monitoring work.

Sam Flanagan, Bureau of Land Management

Mr. Flanagan is a geologist with the Bureau of Land Management’s Arcata Field Office. He carries on the office’s long tradition of partnering with restoration groups in the Mattole. Sam received his undergraduate degree in freshwater fisheries ecology and a graduate degree in geology. His thesis work, much of it occurring in the neighboring Bull Creek watershed looked at the characteristics of wood transport through high gradient, low order streams and implications for stream crossing failures. He is enthralled by landscape processes and how they influence aquatic habitats and their biota.

Drew Barber, Mattole Salmon Group

Drew moved to the Mattole in fall of 1996 and has been involved in various restoration projects in the Mattole ever since. Drew has completed over five CDFW-contracted large wood structures in the lower Mattole since 2000.

John Williams, Mattole Restoration Council (Board)

John Williams has worked for many years on the ecology and management of salmonids and their habitats.  Trained in geography, he has served as an elected director of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and as Special Master for Environmental Defense Fund et al. v. East Bay Municipal Utility District, litigation concerning the flows in the American River needed to protect Public Trust resources, especially Chinook salmon.  His publications include articles on environmental flow assessment and a monograph on Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento/San Joaquin drainage.  Now semi-retired, he lives in Petrolia, and serves on the board of the Mattole Restoration Council.

Field Tours in the Mattole Watershed:

Lower North Fork, Bull Creek, Cuneo Creek, Baker Creek, Mattole River Estuary

Agenda (subject to change)

Sunday, June 18 – Arrive, Dinner 6:30-7:30

Monday, June 19 – Introduction to the Mattole/characteristics of mediterranean rivers/walk the geomorphically active lower North Fork and discuss restoration needs and opportunities/Welcome BBQ

Tuesday, June 20 – Effects of Anthropogenic and Hillslope Processes on Fish Habitat/Cuneo Creek and Bull Creek Field Tours/Evening Discussion: Limits of Restoration and Importance of Context

Wednesday, June 21 – Salmonid Habitat in the Mattole/Baker Creek Geomorphology, Terraces, and Restoration Work/Baker Creek Field Tour/Evening Discussion: Adaptive Management

Thursday, June 22 – Mattole Estuary and Estuarine Habitat for Salmonids/Mattole Estuary Field Tour of Riparian and Heliwood Restoration/Beach Barbecue

Friday, June 23 – Discussion: Science and Restoration/Adjourn at 3pm

There is much to do and see in the area, so consider extending your visit to the Mattole.

Our venue is an architect-remodeled barn on the left bank of the Mattole River, just upstream from the Estuary.

One of our field visits includes the lower North Fork of the Mattole River


This course is based out of Petrolia, CA – located at the north end of Humboldt County’s Lost Coast region, at the northern tip of the King Range National Conservation Area.

For more information, contact Cassie at 707-629-3514 or To register, click here.