Eel River Forum Studying Impacts and Causes of Rising Stream Temperatures

Diagram of groundwater layers in Coastal Belt geology [screenshot of slide presented at the Eel River Forum by Dr. Dralle]


Scientists from various tribes, state and federal regulatory agencies, and environmental watchdog groups who focus on watershed health and restoration met at the Eel River Forum in Willits late in September. They paid particular attention to how climate change will affect the river and will continue to explore the implications at their next quarterly meeting as well.

The 30 or so people at the forum learned from Dr. David Dralle that, contrary to expectations, late season steam flow in the evergreen forests of the North Coast is determined not by the amount of rain that falls in a given year, but rather, as a result of what lies under the ground.  Dralle presented newly developing science of subsurface hydrology gained from studies being done in the South Fork Eel River watershed. These studies, conducted at the UC Berkeley Angelo Reserve Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) in Mendocino County, are giving hydrologists a new understanding of vegetative biome location and virility around the globe.  

The Eel River forum also heard from two other presenters.  

Ted Grantham briefed the forum on the North Coast section of California’s 4th Climate Change Assessment. California conducts these assessments to understand the coming changes and to inform policy and planning as the state strives to safeguard communities and the ecosystem from climate change impacts.  Grantham spent his time focusing on the 4th Assessment’s precipitation and temperature predictions with strategies for managing freshwater ecosystems.  Grantham is the Co-Director of the Cannabis Research Center at U.C. Berkeley and a CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow.  

Grantham’s information from the 4th Assessment gave a good outline of what California understands from past research.  The primary relevant facts are that the storm pattern on the North Coast is becoming more concentrated.  

He explained that fewer rain events are delivering the same annual average rainfall, but in fewer number of rainy days.  In a year’s time there may be the same amount of measured precipitation, but there were generally fewer days of rainfall, therefore there is a lot more rain falling on a given day.  

This pattern makes it harder for the precipitation to make it into the groundwater table.  Also the rain is tending to arrive later in the year and to end earlier in the spring.  This extends the dry weather season.  Both of these factors together reduces end of season streamflow as does the fact that higher temperatures lead to increased transpoevaporation in the vegetation biome.  

Eli Asarian from Riverbend Sciences focused on what the implications from changes climate warming may bring to stream temperature and what this means for Eel River salmonids.  For example, Black Lassik snow melt feeds the Van Duzen fork of the Eel River.  Its current 30 year average for snow is 50 water inches which deliver on the order of 2,500-3,000 cfs of stream flow over the melt period.  Warming trends lead to less annual snow accumulation and to an earlier, faster melt which causes low flow and warmer streams much earlier in the year. 

He also warned that over a period of years, as the atmospheric temperatures increase, Earth’s mantle will also heat further impacting spring water temperatures in late summer.

He summarized data and concludes that it appears along the North Coast that an increase of 1ºC in air temperature will result in a half to a whole degree increase in water temperature in the low flow season.

Asarian said the best strategy for endangered salmonid species restoration involves focusing restoration activity in the coolest waters which are generally in the headwaters, in the coastal fog belt and at the highest elevations.  However, as snow decreases over the next century, elevation will offer less refuge for salmonids as time goes by.  Asarian concluded, “Fish need to have access to the best places that we have if we want to give them the best chance [for species’ survival.]”

Adam Blackburn from the Division of Water Rights at the State Water Board attended.   Blackburn told the room DWR is building scientific models that will be used to help DWR decide how much water landowners can use under their riparian rights and when and how much they will be allowed to store for summer time use under the various registration water storage programs.

Yet, according to Dr. David Dralle, currently an Assistant Professor of Geology at Sacramento State University received his PhD in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley while conducting postdoctoral research at the Eel River Critical Zone Observatory (CZO.)  current scientific modeling does a really poor job of predicting biome (the predominate vegetation type and resulting ecosystem) and dry season stream flow because the models do not include data on underground structure.

Dralle said he studies, “The lithological and geological controls on subsurface structure and how that affects the assembly and composition of ecosystems.” He translated that to mean “how the capacity for subsurface water storage impacts a watershed’s response to variability in climate.”  Dralle defined ‘climate variability,’ as the time delay between the rain falling in winter and the solar radiation of summer which are the two key components to ecosystem productivity.  

Dralle’s slide depicting very similar rainfall for Dry and Elder Creek’s (d) resulting in very different wintertime runoff patterns (c) because the geology underlying Elder Creek absorbs much more groundwater (b)

Dralle’s presentation detailed how unseen below ground structures impact the vegetation cover and ecosystems that we see above ground. He said the vegetative pattern of each hill slope is a function of the ability of the ground’s ability to store water from the rainy season and deliver it to the biome during the dry season.  And, Dralle says, concepts can be gleaned from the research for understanding climate change adaptability.

He said that in places with summer drought, which is called a Mediterranean Climate, the timing of the water delivery “is completely out of phase” with the solar radiation vegetation needs to make use of that water.

That means the subsurface is really the middle man between the delivery of water in the winter and the accessibility and use of that water during the energy rich summer time.

Understanding the role of the subsurface in terms of storage capacity is going to be of increasing importance as rainfall becomes more sporadic as the climate heats up.   Dralle detailed the “implications of increased hydroclimatic variability on base flows” in watersheds.  Or in layman’s terms, he talked about what will happen to groundwater storage as rain patterns change under increasing atmospheric temperatures that are generally predicted to cause rain to fall in larger amounts per day but on fewer days per year.

He measures the base flow in late summer when the stream is only fed by underground water storage capacity.

Dralle began, “Soil is not enough to explain how ecosystems work and how water is stored in the landscape.” He and his colleagues published a paper TITLE in 2018 describing their work on the importance of rock moisture which he defined as,

the water that is stored in unsaturated, fractured, weathered bedrock…not the kind of granulated, smooth mixture that we are used to, but nevertheless really important to the vegetation and forests.

This unsaturated zone is a layer of the subsurface that is above the water table but below the soil layers.

He labeled the layers of subsurface regions as soil, saprolite, chemically weathered bedrock and bedrock.  He defined the ‘critical zone’ as the area of the biome between the top of the forest canopy down to the top of the bedrock underground.

public education

screenshot of Dralle’s slide showing the abrupt change in biome between two creeks in the CZO

Dralle displayed a slide with aerial photography of the area where the two test creek’s at the Eel River CZO are located.  The two creeks are separated by a single ridge, the westerly, Elder Creek is in a forested, coniferous watershed while Dry Creek is in a grass and Oak savanna.  He said,

The stark change is not attributable to changes in rainfall, not attributable to land use, or fire.  We’ve ruled out these things over the course of many years of study.  But instead can be explained if you overlay this map with a map of the underlying geology.

public education

Screenshot of Dralle’s slide depicting the difference between Coastal Belt and Central Belt underground geology.

The forest grows over coastal belt mudstones while the oak land persists over central belt melange.  The mudstones are very prone to fracturing, meaning it falls apart under the chemical weathering of soil and water penetration.   Dralle said, drilling in the coniferous forests overlying Coastal Belt geology reveals up to 2 meters of soil, 2 to 4 meters of saprolite (which the lay person may understand as low grade subsoil) and 23 meters of weathered mudstone. The bedrock at the bottom of the Critical Zone can be as deep as 100 feet.  

By contrast, the melange underlying the grassland can be drilled with a hand auger and is generally a maximum of 10 feet deep, or 3 meters.  

Coastal Belt mudstones support the richer forested biome because the ground can hold so much more water for summertime use.  The Middle Fork of the Eel River runs through a landscape predominated by the melange subsurface structure and is highly dependent on snow melt for its cold water source.  This impacts the, not yet listed, summer-run steelhead.  The other place the summer steelhead prefer is above Scott Dam in the headwaters of the Main Stem of the Eel. 

The pink bubble left of center depicts the highest flow rate, in a year with about 1900 mm of rain. The blue bubble at far right depicts less stream flow in a year with about 3200 mm. [Slide presented by Dr. Dralle]

In the coastal belt geology, Dralle relayed an observation that appears contrary to common sense.  He said,

The relation between water year precipitation and [a stream’s volume at] low flow is nearly non-existent.  In fact, the year with the highest flow condition at the end of the season came on an almost below average rainfall year.

Basically, it’s the length of the rainy season, the number of rainfall events and the temperatures during the summer that are far more predictive of streamflow in early Autumn.

[M]ore generally, this end of wet season ground water storage capacity limitation depends more on a complex interaction between drainage timescales and the magnitude and frequency statistics of rainfall patterns….intraseasonal rainfall patterns, not just how much rain falls, how big the mean is, but how it arrives, the sequencing, the pulsing of rainfall.

Dralle explained that even in the higher capacity coastal belt of mudstone the ground’s water storage capacity is smaller than the amount of rainfall each winter including in drought years,

Dralle asked rhetorically, ‘Does this mean we can use the coastal ground water or stream flow for grape and marijuana cultivation?’  He answered himself saying,

I don’t mean that at all.  In fact, this capacity limitation mechanism means that big rain fall does not necessarily mean more water is available during the dry season. People will interpret large rainfall years as ‘hey I can use more water.’ This [research] suggests that that isn’t necessarily an evidenced based strategy.

All of this information will inform the forum and impact the residents of the Eel River as the Endangered Species listing of the Summer Steelhead moves forward.  The clear understanding appears to be that it will be most cost effective to focus restoration dollars on areas with cool coastal fog belts and deeper subterranean water storage capacity which will aid the broadest range of salmonid species.

At question remains the best strategy for conserving the Summer Steelhead that prefer the Middle Fork and upper Main Stem Eel River which have snow melt to aid in-migration of adults in the Spring and to trigger outmigration of juveniles upon maturity.

All the slides from the Eel River Forum presentations can be found on CalTrout.org

 

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106 comments

  • They sound all fancy but no one know really what they are talking about, it’s all hypothetical. Gots to stay with the narrative that the sky is falling and we are all doomed with climate change. “ it’s the end of the world as we know It and I feel fine”.

    • Not fancy at all. Requires a little effort to understand.
      Fewer days of rain in a season result in reduced underground water storage capacity.
      This fact along with rising temperatures
      threaten fish populations and overall health of the river.

      • Fewer days of rain EVEN IF TOTAL RAINFALL IS NORMAL in a season results in reduced underground water capacity storage.
        So continued moderation in water use would help the river and wildlife.

    • Many people seem to misunderstand what ‘science’ and ‘research’ actually IS, it seems. Quite a few of us DO “know what we are talking about”. But we cannot make someone see facts and reality if they choose not to.
      One wonders just what sort of evidence you would actually believe, since the facts have been available for many years now.

  • Are well is only 55 feet deep and the warter is about 30 feet under the ground at the end of summer at the end of wintet its about 8 feet below the ground never have had it get anywhere near low

    • That is wonderful. But it’s only one example. All this tells us is that no conclusion applies to 100% of the study area.

  • ~ever wish the “studying”, “re-sourcing”, “counting and tagging”, “deforesting”, “dam” experiments would just Stop?

    • I notice these things began after environmental degradation became a problem. I hope we return to a healthy, thriving ecosystem with “harvestable surpluses” of trees and fish.
      I dread the sacrifices we will all be asked to make to allow that to happen. I really hope the counting and tagging help us understand what exactly is needed to get the watershed back in order.
      I expect some people are going to complain loudly and feel the sacrafices are unjust as many did during last week’s wildfire prevention power shutdown.
      I fear the reaction will prevent good community coordination with the restoration efforts and make the sacrafices deeper because they get planned from outside instead of from within the community because the community reacts instead of engages in the needed sacrafices and planning.

      • You missed the point Kelley,

        Before environmentalism became a new religion in California, these climate changes happened without our knowledge. Environmentalism and it’s accompanying disconnect from reality, offers academia and it’s graduates, something to speculate about, nothing more. Everything is based upon predictions.

        The PGE trick was a money move. The fad is to call it wildfire prevention. The next step is to extort funds from those who believe in the environmental religion. Good luck.

        • Actually, science is based upon data not religion.
          Ever think about how the religious establishment responded to Galileo?

          • ~science is religion …sold to the highest bidder. It isn’t that what we refer to as ‘free’ energy isn’t on tap in the most non-invasive manner; there’s no profit off the backs of labor, so funding goes to the most ridiculous, obscene, disconnected, schizophrenic ideas. Like 5G. Like GMO food. Like fluoride. Like Glyphosate. Like aluminum in vaccines.

            • Data can be misused. Absolutely!
              But that should not be a reason to look away from carefully conducted studies that might inform OUR decisions.

        • Wait! What?!? You said it yourself, Rod Gass: “Before environmentalism became a new religion in California, these climate changes happened without our knowledge.” That’s exactly the problem. We didn’t know — maybe we didn’t want to know — and so things got worse until they slapped us in the face, and we couldn’t NOT know without making a religion out of denial. So now we have a much bigger, scarier, less manageable problem.

          • /”So now we have a much bigger, scarier, less manageable problem.”/

            YES. It’s called the global military industrial complex of the uninformed, comfortably numb, willingly blind Order Followers.

          • Only in your imagination.

            The whole point of the debate is “who can predict the future”?

            Science fact/fiction has been making bank on scary tales of the future. This current stuff is refuted at every turn, it’s what do I BELIEVE.

            I meant that man has been around for the blink of an eye. Was there something scary before we populated this Earth? Nobody knows. The Earth is what says if things are worse, if man says that, it’s baloney. The Earth has changed climate repeatedly, before and after man.

            • The earth has never had to deal with the vast numbers of humans we presently have, and those vast numbers of humans never had the machinery to extract, pollute and alter the face of the globe. It’s nonsensical to point to the past as if this is all normal. It’s unprecedented. Get up to speed, man.

              • ~i don’t think it’s the “vast” number of people as Mother Earth’s prime prob.
                Or that it’s the “vast” number of people w/machinery who are ripping the web of life with aluminum death dumps in the sky. 99% aren’t evil, un-dead, soul sucking entities.

                ~we’re in unchartered territory of geoengineered climate collapse – in our face, climate collapse. No normal about it. “The NEW normal” of programmed weather, firestorms, and power outages, is unchartered territory of the maniac’s makings.

                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s4hAZAfxGg&feature=em-uploademail 54 mins. October 12th

      • What I think is scary, is this “sacrificial” mind frame being touted as “science”..
        The smaller more ecologically minded ma and pa’s didn’t deserve to be your “sacrificial lambs” of theoretical science either..

        And that’s what a lot of this Science is, Theories and speculative data being touted as fact to support who ever may be “funding” these studies. Which in Humboldt case, is probably large scale cultivators, and “legalization officinado’s” who have alterer motives to make some one the demon, to make some one pay.. to point the fingers of judgement as to “who the bad ones” are..

        They way the “County” has applied this Science is by approving some of the worst disgusting environmentally unsound grows, I have ever seen. Much of it based on unfounded data, and misapplied science. Maybe if there wasn’t such underhanded efforts at foot to crush the long standing “Allies” of Environment here, the county would find a smother productive discourse twards practical solutions…

        As it is, the divisive labels of the “other” has made a very solid wall of misinformation and misunderstanding…
        And it’s not just the “unpermited” that have been taken for a ride by the county by this “speculative data”…It’s also the permited folks who had to relenkwish a large amount of Dollars to the counties “permit scheme”…

        Complaints.. no this is a solid outrage!

        • Oh….
          Horrible. Can anything be done?

          • I think there can be.. Santa Rosa just made a reasonable ordinance for 2500 sq ft or less… All the while Humboldt has touted the line it can do no such thing… Also, that the data bout how much water storage is required for for a small cultivators is also wrong and misguided. The process for smaller cultivators in the hills should be simplified.. Larger cultivators should be more scrutinized.. There should be a larger Tax on larger grows with bigger impacts..or more of s sliding scale.. Taxing Larger grows at higher rates will also encourage Maintaining a equallibrum of cooperative markets… People shouldn’t be able to “stack” licenses. To make huge mega grows. Especially in the hills..

            I also actually think that green houses are better for the Environment here..because if built properly, they actually keep the nutrients from running into the ecosystems all year long.. Yep plastic is a problem, but it can used for good as well..

            Also, I think there is a size threshold to be allowed down dirt roads.. and in delicate ecosystems. What or where that is debatable.. Just some suggestions for solutions..

          • Cut to the chase, SmallFry.

            ~this criminality is ultimately a political problem.

            If you want your soul and your God-power back you must stop using the legal name for any reason whatsoever – as- it takes down all @Systems@ No legal name. No legal game.

        • 100 👍’s up

        • Small fry. You and i are mostly saying similar things. Although you think because i report on something as i see it before me, i am promoting something, so you think you dont like me or want to fight with me.

          In the article i report to you…this is whats being studied. This is what they know so far. That’s the reporting.
          In the comment section, i am adding, the fearful reaction has not benefited the community. It will continue to cause the planning to be done from outside and that is what has led to mom and pops becoming lumped in with green rushers. And cartel grows and etc.

          I am kind of asking you to calm down, read, study and engage with the process so the community can address what is coming and not be a victim to it.

          As fish become listed, and the endangered species act takes a larger role in the eel river, landowners will be compelled to make sacrafices. Study and thought will go further than reaction and saying its all wrong and we are bwing picked on.

          • Kelly, No, I do not beilive you or I ARE saying the same thing. The Banter you choose to use in your commentary is offensive.. It’s not that I “don’t like you” But saying that people loosing thier land and being held at gunpoint over unconsistitutional, immoral, and unscrupulous behavior, ARE SIMPLE COMLAINING..like the power is out for a couple days.. is OFFENSIVE Kelly..
            Complaining is what happens when your tea is a little cold, or you get a speeding ticket… You sound like your reiterating what Estelle said in her kick off campaign.. (that was largely unattended) …How come she is not representing us or protecting people from this “sacrifice” that is coming? Because she Sucks hard as a supervisor and needs to be replaced, that’s why…No, This is OUTRAGE Kelly.. Our Original Community is not “being picked on” we are being “marginalized”…And yeah, I did loose a degree of respect for you right now with that commentary.

            Your right, in the aspect that people do need to “engage the process”.. and not became victim to it.. And the truth is, we do need to do “something” to protect the rivers and the fish.. absolutely… But, also the Data needs to stop being misapplied, and use tward roping in the people who are actually bennificial and Allies of the river… this sounds like they are coming for “peoples” wells.. that is what this sounds like they are aiming to target..

            But yeah, go ahead Kelly, continue to LAUGH AND LABEL marginalized people who are experiencing these hardships.. Real Nice.. Keep it Classy Lady!

            • She isn’t marginalizing people. She’s giving you information.

              • You, Estellle, and now Kelly are all guilty of this “Marginalization”..Go ahead Kym… Keep laughing and labeling.. but I will shurely call it..

                • I am not laughing at you.

                  This is an article describing an important gathering. You may disagree with the conclusions, I may disagree with the conclusions (I don’t), but this is just the facts of what happened.

                  You are free to make your own conclusions about what is occurring but please try to see what we are doing is giving you information. Not telling you what to think.

                  • Traumatized and threatened people sometimes see every disagreement or omission as an intentional affront or reason to suspect hostility.

                    I see it everywhere and often engage in it myself.

                    • I think you are correct. I try to just state the facts. I don’t always succeed though. I wish I more often succeeded in being more factual and less defensive.

                  • My angle, isn’t about the data that is being presented necessarily, My issue is this constant“labeling” all of the OG farmers as “complainers”.. Of which Kelly did in her comment, and Kym, And most notably the other day from Estelle…Like we are sub human, like our issues don’t deserve notation.. makes it easy to write off our concerns as invalid.. because we are just “complainers”.. That is straight Marginalization Banter.. simple. It’s one thing for commentors to say it.. it’s quite another to have Our Representative saying this, and yet another to have press repeating and spreading this Marginalization..

                    So, obviously Estelle, just wrote off like half the county, with her comment.. that we are just ‘complainers’.. Signals to me she has absolutely NO Intention on finding a solution.. and I found it extremely distasteful for Kelly to rebriderate these comments…
                    It was a very low comment for Estelle to make in the first place..
                    Not suprising she thinks so low of many in her constituency..

                    • Ask permission

                      Ask forgiveness

                      Ask why things are so tense.

                      We are focused on the distraction.

                      Make your words mean something to you.

                      We have been tribal since day one.

                    • Small Fry, Traditional farmers have a huge piece of my heart. From conversations I’ve had with Kelley, I believe she feels the same.

                      I don’t think of them as complainers. I think you are misunderstanding us.

            • Oh gosh. I didnt see this sooner. Kyms right. Im not laughing at you whatsoever.
              This community is being marginalized in some respects.

              Im frustrated that land use decisions arent getting made at the local level. When the national guard rolls in over an action that about 50% of the people are engaging in, its an indication of a problem in that regard.

              BUT, there are legitimate goals being promoted by cdfw. We can’t have fish going extinct. That’s not an option. We can be involved in the solution,that prevents that, but we cant like our own interests are more important than that goal.

              This eel river forum doesnt make decisions. They study questions with the scientific method.

              The more questions they think to ask, and observations they are given to consider, the closer to an actual truth they will get.

              At the ad hoc committee, the thing that’s working is just that.

        • SF @ 10:10

          That’s a sound rendition of the environmentalists effects on supporting the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. They weaponized the sunshine, water, square footage and how much graft goes to the Governor. One would think that, organic gardeners would be embraced by science, I guess they need more time to catch-up.

          To my memories, science has always misunderstood cannabis and it’s efficacy for people.

          • /”To my memories, science has always misunderstood cannabis and it’s efficacy for people.”/

            ~concur. It’s that spiritual cross-over that just can’t seem to be nailed down into agreed-upon-value words, for the soul purpose of forcing a price on off-planet intangibles (our rights) — which are priceless. You can see the conundrum.

          • Very true Rod, TY! This ‘Delusion of Control’ the Cali. Commie commission continues to maintain is a falsehood. The truth is, anyone can grow few plants easily, so this whole notion of utter control over the industry is a complete delusion…

            Yeah, I guess that Organic Gardeners all across Humboldt are the ‘latest’ threat to the climate… soo.. better nip that one in the bud! What we need are HUGE chemmie monster scenes, and if they pay enough, they too can be coined as “Eco Friendly”!

    • Dear Central Humco
      Why in the world would you not want to be informed?

      • ~i’m not saying that the people out doing the counting and exploiting aren’t on the ‘do-gooders’ side, i’m saying that so far none of it has lead to any salvation; informed, dis-formed, malformed or otherwise.

        • That’s when the community needs to come together to study the findings and think about appropriate action for a mutual goal.

          • You’re right here, Eve.

            The goal is one thing. What we need to recognize is how the bureaucracy’ created problems, reactions, solutions are playing out on the big stage …so we can arrive at an agreement on steps and how to proceed.

          • Thank you eve.

    • Why? People ARE offering solutions out there you know. But if people choose to ignore, thats a hard one to fight.

    • No. I never wish that we prefer to be ignorant

  • Excellent article, Kelley.. My well is 200 feet deep and is struggling this year.. Leaks may be part of the problem but I had expected an easy year with our spring rainfall.. Some aswers in the article.. Very interesting..

    • Thanks for sharing. That’s interesting!!
      i wonder if your well is below bedrock and if that pool is depleting.
      Below bedrock aquifers are slow to regenerate.
      Fyi…Everywhere gets the same rainfall pretty much. Rainfall catchment does not require a water right. A 1000 squarefoot roof can capture 500 gallons of water for every inch of rainfall.

      • kelley,

        /”Below bedrock aquifers are slow to regenerate.” /

        Why do i think “fossil fuel” programming when i read this?

        That programmed cyclic vision of ‘rainfall’ is short-changed too, to put it mildly.

        Primary Water is why we don’t have a water shortage.
        WATER IS A RENEWABLE! http://primarywater.org/

  • Government Cheese

    I should be a teacher at a university. The cause. Humans. The impact.. Humans. There you have it kids….. class dismissed!

    • ~oh foo, foo, Government Cheese. Let’s hear what you’ve got up your sleeve for escape ..

      Hot air balloons, perhaps? (wink)

  • Blue Slide Creek has above average late season water flow this year. This is consistent with Dr. Dralle’s theory, since we had a lot of late season rain.
    There are also more and larger juvenile steelhead in the pools than normal, at least in the section I’m familiar with. I hope it rains before the herons take them out.

    • Government Cheese

      Mergansers are the real problem. Fish ducks. They decimate young fry by the hundreds. I blast em every chance I get. Blue herons are cool though. Beautiful and graceful birds.

      • Yeah man. I’ve watched them fish ducks literally fly under the water. The fish don’t have a chance. When I was young we shot them on sight and there weren’t too many. Now their everywhere.
        Now you’ll get arrested if you’re caught near the river with your trusty 870

      • Used to be the sea lions at the mouth of the river. Now it’s mergansers. Thanks for clarifying this. Now we can all go home and have some fun shooting into the water.

    • Another contributing factor is that Blue slide got hammered by fish and game and the county abatement program. Who knows, maybe some of the big time legal growers finally got their water storage together?

      And fish and games data is pretty recent. Their first survey of blue slide wasnt until the early 90s.

  • The Angelo Preserve Wilderness area, Elder Creek, Wilderness Lodge, and Horseshoe Bend, is several of my California ancestor’s homes. My Grandmother Ruby (Middleton) Branscomb was at their Elder Creek home during the great 1906 earthquake. They ran outside during the earthquake and the falling fireplace chimney narrowly missed hitting her. The quake was very strong in Elder Creek, because it is near the San Andreas Fault.

    Grandma Ruby said many times that “a long rain fall is much better than a fast rain that runs off.” and that “4 inches of rain in May is better than a wet winter.” It seems that the scientist are finally getting to be as smart as the oldtimers.

    • The Oldtimers also said that “openings will always be openings and timberland will always be timberland”. I’m not sure that they understood the geological reasons why that is true. I guess just knowing that was the case was good enough for them.

  • 🕯🌳Good morning Kelley Great article, thanks for the information.

  • This article is really interesting. We live in a Mediterranean climate where the water plants need to grow (rain) falls in the nongrowing season. This article points out that the soil’s ability to retain water is the main determining factor of what plants can grow here. Redwood trees and other huge trees can use 100’s of gallons each day, ever wonder where they get it in the summer time? Or why the river level falls so fast when the temperature is over 90 degrees? Thanks for a great educational article!

  • Lots of good data. Plenty to think about. Thanks for passing this info along.

  • I must confess I didn’t read the entire article THOROUGHLY, but why no mention of the Potter Valley dam and all the impact IT causes with water temp. due to the diversion of said resource to the Russian River?

    • The people did a study of Shasta Lake and how it’s release temperatures were affected. The incoming temperature TODAY, early fall, is warmer coming in than going out.

      The same study was done on Trinity Lake, same result.

      • 🕯🌳This is why continuing studies needs to be done to see what and were the impacts where done and there effects on the present day ecosystem. 🖖 Sometimes something as simple as taking out a predatory type animal out of an area can effect an ecosystem. Check out Yellowstone, they’ve reentered duced the Grey Wolf and to control the over population of the Moose and it actually started a chain reaction of regrowth of certain plant life along rivers and creek beds.🖖

        • I agree, but only if they broaden their spectrum.
          For instance, and I’ll give a small handful of examples, could the extra tremblers at Mount Shasta be foretelling something that we should be aware of?
          What about the geysers? Why is that area different now than in the past?
          What about Long Valley? WTF is going on there?
          How would the ‘collection’ of data affect all the studies performed to date? Why is the data left out of the equation?
          What else are we missing for a full comprehensive study that covers all data?

        • It was elk and the pressure by the wolves forced more elk to river bottoms where they ate more willow. This destabilized the river edges and allowed the river to change course by eroding areas where there was no longer a foothold of willow and other stream-side foliage.

      • Interesting Rod. Yeah they mention dams in one sentence, but sounds like they want to go after individuals riparian rights versus taking out the dams that are closer to the headwaters with the cooler water

        • There’s a lot being studied and multiple species of salmon in five forks of a giant watershed. Comlexity!!
          Most riparian water users are on the south fork. Percentage wise.

          I think on the west side, we’ll see a move to get people off of wells because unless they are really deep in the forestsd areas, they may likely be in the water table and not “disconnected.” Nothing is being decided by the forum. They study science and inform policy makers.

          Lots of the people who attend the forum are from groups who are working to get the dams out, but the dams are not on the south fork where the largest majority of eel river residents live.

          Complexity. Giant watershed. Lots of thinking needed.

    • Prof quiz, because its a report on a meeting and the data that was shared i that meeting. Thats why

      • Thank You Kelly.

        That said, isn’t the Potter Valley Project responsible at least in part for the rising water temps? I mean, the flow is reduced in the N. Fork. Less flow – higher temps? But I’m guessing that there’s some grant money involved and the focus is limited?

        • kelley 'please don't shoot the messenger' lincoln

          Actually, no it isn’t. Scott Dam actually holds cold headstream water that doesnt warm up very deeply. There’s a “needle valve” toward the bottom of the dam that releases the coldest water into the stream upon demand.

          The mainstream eel is predominately the grassland biome so the summer flow is mainly dependent on snow melt from Lake County, so the main stem has never had good summer flow.

          However, it does block fish migration in and out of the headwaters. And it poses a threat to the lives and property of people in fortuna, ferndale, Shivley holmes loleta etc

          By the way, the dams are only on the mainstem. The North fork may actually be somewhat of a good reflection of the mainstem if it were undammed because the north fork doesnt have much human population on it. Ill ask someone what the differences are. But it is undammed and ypu see how warm it is. Ive measured water temps in the high 70s in the summer.

          • There are native folks in Hettenshaw Valley who can tell you the eco-story of the North Fork under native management. They say More Water and Cooler Water.

  • The Inland coastal mountains used to be dominated by deciduous trees and grasslands until the invasive Douglas Fir moved in 400-500 years ago. Did the geological strata change that much in that time frame?

    • Is there a program or something so a landowner can restore the land back to grasslands oaks and other deciduous trees? I think Ullr and Shanna are on to one of the major problems. —Doug firs and tree farms

      • Yes – contact Matt Cocking at the Natural Resources Conservation Service. There is funding for Oak Woodland restoration.

    • I’m not sure but I think there is.
      I kill every new fir that pops up on my property.

    • Douglas Fir moved here 4-500 years ago?

      I was under the impression they were native to Western North America.

      • I understand that it is native just not this far south. It was climate change 4-500 years ago that opened this area to its growth; dominating the oaks and grasslands.

    • Douglas Firs go all the way down into Mexico. Although I don’t doubt that they only arrived here recently, because the landscape is always changing. There have been multiple dry periods in the last 10,000 years where our local climate became more of an oak woodland ecosystem. It looks like we are headed back towards that due to climate change.

      • “Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii, the coast Douglas-fir, grows in the coastal regions from west-central British Columbia southward to central California. In Oregon and Washington, its range is continuous from the eastern edge of the Cascades west to the Pacific Coast Ranges and Pacific Ocean. In California, it is found in the Klamath and California Coast Ranges as far south as the Santa Lucia Range, with a small stand as far south as the Purisima Hills in Santa Barbara County.[14][15] One of the last remaining old growth stands of conifers is in the Mattole Watershed, and is under threat of logging.[16][17] In the Sierra Nevada, it ranges as far south as the Yosemite region. It occurs from near sea level along the coast to 1,800 m (5,900 ft) above sea level in the mountains of California.

        Another variety exists further inland, Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca, the Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir or interior Douglas-fir. Interior Douglas-fir intergrades with coast Douglas-fir in the Cascades of northern Washington and southern British Columbia, and from there ranges northward to central British Columbia and southeastward to the Mexican border, becoming increasingly disjunct as latitude decreases and altitude increases. Mexican Douglas-fir (P. lindleyana), which ranges as far south as Oaxaca, is often considered a variety of P. menziesii.”
        -wiki

  • Smell the funding? Hope so, you’re paying for it.

  • The fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in Conservative foundations and think tanks that promote contrarian scientists and improbable spins on the science. All this is rich manure for personal denial. When a person’s motivated reasoning is on the hunt for excuses, there is an industry ready to supply them. Social media offers further opportunities for spreading disinformation. Some downplay and discount climate change precisely because they recognise that the low-emissions transition will adversely impact their interests. A bombardment of further facts and framings is unlikely to move them; “who needs stinkin’ facts”?
    Denial is repressed knowledge.

  • We do need to tighten our belts, in the realm of resource conservation.
    Asking current residents, or “citizens” of California, as we once were called, to tighten up on the budgeting of lifestyle makes little sense when the state is actively predicting and planning for a massive increase in the human population of this state.
    “Social justice” environmentalists get confused at this point, because, they are obligated, by their “compassion”, to invite any and all immigrant application upon our fragile landscape. Pre existing residents are of course still asked to conserve, but to protect nature? or to make room for endless intra and inter national human migration?
    I thought that Deep ecology contradicted the primacy of the human.
    This is where social justice environmentalists have it all wrong.
    They prioritize wild nature up until a million refugees show up, then they say, ok, come on in..
    They wouldn’t want to repeat history after all..

  • its the heavy metals in the soils that cause that abrupt change in the flora. the groundwater in the subsurface is much more complex than that image depicts. its 100s to 1,000s of years when it comes to seepage velocity. most of the water never makes it thru the silt and runs to the ocean. almost all of the watershed in the north fork smith runs into the ocean, yet the groundwater seeps in that drainage run year round at almost the same rate and have been virtually unaffected by the recent drought. this is just another hit piece that requires permit applicants to drill deeper to water plants.

    • Mmmmm, no. It is not a hit piece. It is a report on a recent science forum and what was discussed there.
      You articulate the kind of reactionary thinking that is not going to help anyone.
      Ask a question, you have several legitimate questions here.
      How do the observations you have work with or against those Dralle and his colleagues have made.
      How do we find out? What studies need to be done? How does the geology of the gorgeous Smith compare to that of the Eel? Etc.

      • i didn’t mean your article was the hit piece. i am referring to the intentions of the Forum. meanwhile at the same time Green Diamond is preparing a proposal to remove large 2nd growth trees within the creek boundaries on their timber tracts, which are basically the only trees left worth harvesting in the north. their primary reasoning is that these trees suck up too much water and it is adversely affecting the fish. crazy times indeed.

        • Ok, i misunderstood your earlier post.
          This second one involves a lot of complex science.
          Clear cutting is not very sound timber management from my observation.
          This topic is on my list of stories. What tributary are you referencing above? And do you mean on the north fork smith?

          • the clear cutting has already happened, this proposal is about plucking the big trees out of these drainages. this is east of Trinidad, the north fork smith is mostly rock and cedar.

            • That green diamond property from 299 to trinidad and east almost to 96 is a giant swath of land that is so heavily logged its a testimant to nature’s tenacity in my mind.
              Logging companies had their day with coming to terms with environmental regulation in the 90s, but they had always been legal. The changes werent easy, but with the board of forestry, they had a strong state voice.

              The similarities in the two resource economies are strong. The small companies were pushed out of the market. The remainder need to maximize and push the environment right to the edge to survive.

  • The watershed would be just fine without pot growing, excessive logging and water diversions. Overgrazing by cattle hasn’t helped either. The rainfall and weather is the same. Rains from Halloween to the middle of April, only occasionally sooner or later. I think the study is based on short term information. They need to look at tree rings and all the weather bureau records.

    • Yes, the environmental damage is over a century in the making and its impacts are real.

      But, The rainfall isn’t the same though. Its about the same amount, but it’s harder rains on fewer days.

      And on that east side of the water shed, a real long term climate issue, because the ground tends not to soak up much water, is the trend toward less snow and earlier melts according to what i heard there.

  • I can appreciate the article, and I love information about how cool water and land are, but you got it seriously wrong Kelly! The Eel river is the gorgeous river! The smith is just a hard rock cheerleader! Everybody loves it, don’t pamper it anymore!

    • LoL. Well we don’t compare beauty. We admire it in all its forms, right?

      And to your question below, idk but i can ask around.

  • But seriously, are there any good books or studies on the terrain within the borders of Mendocino National forest?
    Specifically all the forks of the eel and all those neat brushy mountains?
    Already read the dark range

  • Once they busted the biggest pumpers about 5 years ago the water started coming back in my area – Ponds, tanks, and regulations = even more water in the creek. Abatements and illegal grow shutdowns with some spring rain. never seen so much summer flow in our critical habitat creek – Now – If only they could keep the ranchers cows from shitting in the creek and destroying the riparian zones in the most critical of salmonid spawning grounds- maybe fix some failed roads on the ranch ? replace broken culverts? – oh the sacred cows of california –

  • Watch the Ft. Seward gauge in the summer… Daily, or more correctly, nightly drops are from renegade pumpers sucking water for the “medicine for the children”, not because of the uptake of streamside riparian vegetation. This is something that cannot be ignored. The Eel has been through many “changes” throughout history, Logging, slides, mining, roadbuilding, canneries, diversion, damming, cattle, irrigation glut, squawfish, drought, railroad, and on and on. It comes down to the fact that right now, the mighty Eel CANNOT withstand the fucking rape of water robbing and infusion of fertilizer/poison into what little water would NATURALLY flow down the watercourses from June thru November. This last blow to the river (grweed) will kill it for good! Mergansers my ass…

    • Yes, whatever water gets used for, it has to be sourced properly. And yes, it’s pretty well documented that pumps can dewater streams.

      Im not much for black and white thinking. I tend to stay in the nuance zone.

      So, to my mind, this doesnt mean no one can ever grow pot or other ag there, but it does mean all human activity must come with smart solutions for water management.

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