Mattole Watershed Restoration Planning
The Mattole watershed encompasses 304 square miles within the northern California Coast Mountains, some of the most rugged, diverse, and abundant land in California. The Mattole River flows completely un-dammed for 62 miles fed by over 74 tributary streams, from northern Mendocino County to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. From the 1940s to the 1970s, destructive timber harvest practices and flooding created miles of poorly built roads, acres of barren hillsides and millions of tons of sediment. Sediment filled in many deep pools creating a shallower river lacking complex habitat. In addition to adding unhealthy levels of sediment in the river, destructive logging practices created extremely unhealthy forests. Today’s forests are overstocked stands of even aged trees that are vulnerable to disease, pests and catastrophic fire. Forest restoration (thinning, prescribed fire, etc.) increases forest health, promotes carbon sequestration, and reduces the risk of destructive fires. The scale and scope of the forest restoration work required to make a real difference is so large that strategic planning to prioritize landscape level restoration projects are needed to find the most effective and efficient treatments. Forest restoration is the strategic priority for the next decade to protect the community and the riparian and instream habitat restoration investments made in the last four decades by reducing the likelihood of catastrophic fire that could dramatically impact Chinook salmon habitat by decreasing shade and increasing sediment loads in and around the river.
* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge