Monday November 6, 2023


The Big River watershed is getting a makeover. After 150 years of logging and roadbuilding, agencies and environmental organizations are focusing their efforts on decommissioning and repairing roads, replacing failed and undersized culverts, and restoring diversity to the waterway. During the logging days, timbermen built 29 splash dams on the river to control the movement of the logs they were taking out of the surrounding wilderness. The fast-moving logs scoured the riverbanks, removing the naturally accumulated debris and other little nooks that provide fish with a variety of places to hide or catch food or take refuge from predators and storms. 

The Big River watershed is about 181 square miles, with four main branches and the longest undeveloped estuary in the state, at about 8 or 9 miles. In 2002, the Mendocino Land Trust bought a little over 7,300 acres of the watershed just outside the town of Mendocino from a timber company and donated it to the state parks system. State Parks did not receive staff or funding at the time of the acquisition, and has been cobbling together grants — and working with organizations that are very good at chasing grants — to chip away at the massive amount of work that needs to be done.

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