Wednesday February 1, 2023


Bays and estuaries across California provide important habitat for anadromous fish to grow and nurture their young before transitioning to life in the sea. However, since European settlement, much of that crucial fish habitat has been lost due to land use conversion. In the North Coast, over 95% of Humboldt Bay’s historic footprint has been altered by anthropogenic activity, much of it for agricultural uses. CalTrout’s recently completed restoration project on Cochran Creek will restore function back to a small yet important piece of the landscape.

Located between the coastal towns of Eureka and Arcata, Cochran Creek is a small creek that flows into Humboldt Bay. The creek meanders through the lowlands around Humboldt Bay converted from a tidal marsh years ago. Similar to San Francisco Bay, the natural slough-channeled marshland was diked and drained and used for whatever met the demand of European settlers. In recent years in the fall, the landscape is dotted with orange as families venture from nearby towns to a seasonal pumpkin patch.

Cochran Creek is a small watershed (~1 square mile), but the creek offers important fish habitat for federally listed steelhead and coho salmon, and coastal cutthroat trout. CalTrout’s recently completed project restores connectivity from ocean to watershed and addresses some of the high-quality habitat that the Humboldt Bay coho salmon population needs.

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