Friday March 10, 2023

The North Coast Environmental Center

Nonprofit research and conservation organization California Trout (CalTrout) and partners announced today they have completed a project to restore critical estuary habitat for imperiled Coho salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout in Humboldt Bay’s watershed. CalTrout and partners widened the channel of Cochran Creek and planted native vegetation, re-creating the conditions of a natural river and floodplain at the mouth of the creek, which flows into the bay just north of Eureka. They also replaced an old tide gate with a new structure that allows more tidal water, and fish, to flow upstream. With new berms built along the new banks of the creek, the restoration provides better flood protection and better drainage for the surrounding farmland, owned by project partners John Gary and Heather Plaza, while expanding habitat and allowing the tidal creek to revert to its natural brackish state to benefit young salmon. The project may also reduce flood risk on the adjacent road.

 Dozens of Coho salmon have already been observed in the newly restored habitat, up from just a few fish pre-restoration. These juvenile salmon are growing and thriving through the winter months, which are typically the most difficult months to survive through.

 “The Cochran Creek restoration is a small project with a big impact, helping a federally listed population of Coho salmon while also helping the community,” said CalTrout Project Manager Matt Metheny. “This important project has fully connected Cochran Creek to Humboldt Bay for the first time in a hundred years.”

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