Watershed Restoration

Watershed Restoration Program

Our Watershed Program is a marriage of science and culture. We always try to use the best available science in learning all we can about the current condition of the watershed, using what we’ve learned to inform our strategies.  Over time, we will continue to study the watershed and to use this information to define appropriate restoration goals with the intention of improving the watershed’s function and resilience. Meanwhile, we also believe that the land provides the identity of our community and the basis for our local culture. We believe that our program has the potential to help re-connect the local communities to their local rivers and foster stewardship values in our people. The South Fork Trinity River, its problems and its potential, can be a catalyst which connects our community’s wellbeing with the health of our ecosystems.

We hope that science can lead our intellects in the right direction, while honoring and nurturing culture can reconnect our hearts.

Over the past five years, the Watershed Center has been laying the foundation for a robust Watershed Restoration Program focused primarily on the South Fork of the Trinity River (SFTR) and its tributaries. We’ve built partnerships with agencies, organizations, and individuals working in the SFTR and throughout the Klamath Basin. Additionally, we have created watershed assessments, watershed management plans, and preformed monitoring work.  Through these activities we’ve identified some specific opportunities that we hope to carry to implementation in the near future.

Some of our current initiatives include:

  • Protecting some of the last remaining wild spring-run Chinook Salmon
    • The SFTR has one of the last remaining wild spring Chinook runs in California. We are presently partnering with the Yurok Tribe, Humboldt State University, the USFS, and CA Department of Fish and Game to learn more about these dwindling spring Chinook populations. Our four priorities in this initiative include facilitating basic monitoring in the SFTR, Hayfork Creek and their tributaries, a Limiting Factors Analysis for the spring run Chinook, a Genetics Study, and educating local communities of the King salmon’s precarious status.
Snorkel Survey for Spring Chinook and Summer Steelhead on Hayfork Creek
  • Cultivate stewardship values in our local communities.
    • We envision that our suite of programs (Indian Valley Summer Camp, the Youth Conservation Crew, and our Adult Restoration Crews) will help foster stewardship values in our community. We believe that by employing local community members to conduct vital work like fish snorkel surveys, community wildfire protection, noxious weed removal, and prescribed burning, we can foster conservation education and thus nurture a better land ethic in our community.

    Youth Conservation Crew eradicates noxious scotch broom weeds

  • Enhancing wetland sites in the Hayfork area
    • For our first project we would like to enhance and restore a wetland located adjacent to Hayfork High School. We are working on a partnership with Hayfork High School, Trinity County, and the USFS to fundraise, plan, and implement the wetland enhancement project. A first-draft of the plan is available at the following link: Hayfork Community Wetland Enhancement and Outdoor Classroom

      Map of the Proposed Hayfork Community Wetland Enhancement Project

  • Monitoring water quality in Hayfork Creek
    • We are conducting several water quality monitoring programs on the SFTR including water temperature, sediment, water chemistry, periphyton, and benthic invertebrates. We are working with the Klamath Basin Monitoring Program, the State Water Resources Control Board, the USFS, and Watercourse Engineering to study water quality in the watershed. As data becomes available we will attempt to provide the information here on our website.

    Testing water quality in Hayfork Creek

  • Ground water study
    • This initiative is entirely unfunded at the moment but we have been researching and sporadically monitoring groundwater in the Hayfork Basin for several years. We believe that it is essential that we learn more about groundwater in the valley, and, in particular, its connection to surface water that contribute to the health of our streams and rivers.

    Spring storms in the Hayfork Valley

  • Upslope watershed restoration
    • We believe that we cannot have true watershed restoration without lifting our heads up out of the rivers every once and a while and looking at the forested slopes of the upper watersheds. Without quality work being done in the upslope portions of the watershed, instream restoration is doomed; this much we have learned from South Fork Mountain. Proper road maintenance, strategic fuels reduction, noxious weed removal, prescribed fire use, road decommissioning, and correct timber practices are all essential components of restoring resilience to our watersheds.

      2008 Lime Fire effects in Cold Camp Creek

    • Big Creek Integrated Watershed Management Plan – Hayfork’s Municipal Watershed
      • We have worked with the community of Hayfork and the State Water Quality Control Board to produce a management plan for Big Creek; Hayfork’s municipal water supply. Incorporated in the Big Creek Integrated Watershed Management Plan is a comprehensive watershed assessment. The information from the watershed assessment was exhibited to the community and agencies in a series of collaborative meetings employed to draw on multi-disciplinary expertise and incorporate a diverse range of interests representing both the public and private lands. The plan, which was developed from these collaborative meetings, has defined goals and objectives, outlined strategies, and prescribed activities to restore and protect water quality and beneficial uses for the Big Creek Watershed. The Watershed Assessment and the Management Plan are available at the Watershed Center, as soon as we are able we will insert a link to a pdf document on this website.
    • Watershed coordination
      • We do our best to act as a liaison between agencies and the public, organizing events and meetings, and continuously collecting information about our watershed which will help facilitate conservation in the future.