Trout Unlimited, Mendocino County RCD awarded major grant to boost streamflows, improve water security in key Eel River tributary



Matt Clifford, Trout Unlimited 406-370-9431
Patty Madigan, Mendocino County RCD 707-937-3082

Trout Unlimited, Mendocino County RCD awarded major grant
to boost streamflows, improve water security in key Eel River tributary

Wildlife Conservation Board grant will help residents reduce impacts of water diversions on native salmon and steelhead

(March 20, 2017) UKIAH, Calif.Trout Unlimited (TU) and the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD) have been awarded a $359,000 planning grant to help rural landowners on three key tributaries of Outlet Creek in the upper Eel River watershed to reduce the impacts of water use on salmon and steelhead trout.

The grant comes from the Wildlife Conservation Boards Streamflow Enhancement Program, a $200 million fund dedicated to projects that enhance streamflow for the benefit of Californias fish and wildlife. The program was established by Proposition 1, the water bond passed by California voters in 2014.

The goal of our work is to get more water in streams for fish, but we have found the way to do that is to create projects that also work for people, said Matt Clifford, an attorney with TUs California Water Project. To reliably maintain streamflows over time, we need to find ways to increase peoples water security. This grant will help us achieve that goal in one of the last, best river systems for wild salmon and steelhead in California.

“The Mendocino County Resource Conservation District is excited to collaborate with TU on this important project,” said Patty Madigan, Conservation Programs Manager for MCRCD. “Outlet Creek is one of the longest migration corridors for coho salmon in Californiaand we need to ensure that both people and fish have water, when they need it most.”

Later this year, TU and MCRCD will hold a series of meetings with farmers, residents, and businesses who get their water supply from Ryan, Baechtel, and Broaddus creeks, all of which are key spawning tributaries for endangered coho salmon, as well as for native Chinook salmon and steelhead. The meetings will focus on finding ways to help water users reduce their water diversions during the summer dry season, when streamflows are at their lowest.

A proven and increasingly common solution to such challenges is to build storage tanks or off-stream ponds where water can be stored during the winter rainy season, when water is plentiful, which enables water users to reduce or eliminate pumping water from the creeks during the dry season. Other solutions include rooftop systems to collect and store rainwater, efficiency measures to reduce overall water use, and coordination of diversions among neighbors so that fewer of them pump water from the creek at the same time. All are techniques that have been used successfully in other coastal California watersheds.

In most coastal California watersheds, we find that there is actually more than enough water to meet the needs of both fish and people, said Clifford. The key is to collect the water when its abundant basically the winter season and to use it as efficiently as possible.

In addition to landowner outreach, the project also includes funds to measure existing streamflows, to develop minimum streamflow objectives, to design projects to help meet those objectives, and to secure the water rights and other permits needed to construct the projects. TU and MCRCD will follow up with a subsequent project to help landowners with construction costs. The ultimate goal is to enhance creek flows while creating a more secure dry season water supply for people.

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Trout Unlimited is Americas largest and oldest sportsmens organization dedicated to conservation of trout and salmon. Since 1959, Trout Unlimited and our 450 chapters nationwide have worked to conserve, protect, restore and sustain cold water habitat, trout and salmon populations, and angling opportunities.

The Mendocino County Resource Conservation District was established in 1945. The mission of MCRCD is to assist communities to voluntarily conserve, protect, and restore wild and working landscapes in Mendocino County. The RCD provides technical assistance, education and outreach programs, monitoring and assessment services, and funding opportunities to help land managers improve the long-term stewardship of the countys natural resource base.