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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

REGION 8: Tribes and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partner on Habitat Restoration Training in Northern California

Region 8, August 15, 2013
Rocco Fiori with the Yurok Tribe (yellow jacket) instructing the class on a construction site about geomorphology and log placement.
Rocco Fiori with the Yurok Tribe (yellow jacket) instructing the class on a construction site about geomorphology and log placement. - Photo Credit: n/a
Rocco Fiori with the Yurok Tribe (yellow jacket) instructing the class on a construction site about geomorphology and log placement.
Rocco Fiori with the Yurok Tribe (yellow jacket) instructing the class on a construction site about geomorphology and log placement. - Photo Credit: n/a
Training participants pose for a photo.
Training participants pose for a photo. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Damion Ciotti

Tribes from across northern California attended a three-day restoration training organized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s  Pacific Southwest Region Habitat Restoration Division and the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office. Participants received classroom training as well as on-site experience at Yurok Tribe and Partners for Fish and Wildlife habitat restoration projects.

The workshop is part of a continuing effort by the Region to provide technical assistance tailored to conservation challenges of the 130 federally recognized tribes throughout California, Nevada and the Klamath Basin. “The Yurok restoration program is a great model to other northern California tribes since they have developed their own capacity to plan, design, and implement aquatic habitat restoration projects,” said Damion Ciotti, Tribal Partnerships Specialist, Pacific Southwest Region.

During the first day, participants received an overview of aquatic habitat restoration design and implementation by restoration specialists from the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program from the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office. The group went into the field on the second day where tribal participants witnessed the construction of engineered log jams to retain instream wood, restoring habitat complexity. Dan Gale, Partners Program, and Rocco Fiori, Yurok Tribe, directed backhoe placement of wood in the channel of Terwer Creek, a tributary to the Klamath River. Fiori explained to the group “You need the big wood to hold the medium wood and the medium wood to hold the small wood and that is what holds the coho.” On the final day of training, the tribes were given an overview of fish passage project development and implementation, and visited passage sites at the Blue Lake Rancheria. “This training was informative and inspiring, with the right mix of technical info and site visits. It was eye opening and inspiring to see Tribal projects that were cutting edge and effective. We will be using that information to assist with our own fish passage projects here in the Clear Lake basin,” stated Sarah Ryan of the Big Valley Rancheria.

This event was an excellent opportunity for the Service to provide outreach to numerous tribes that, due to their geographic location, may otherwise have limited technical resources available. Participants will take the techniques learned back to watersheds across northern California, from the Eel River to the high Sierras. New tribal and agency partnerships were also built as eight biologists from the Service's Partners Program, Bureau of Reclamation and National Marine Fisheries Service were also present. A similar event is being planned for southern California tribes in 2014, with a focus on restoration challenges more specific to southern California tribes, including invasive species and climate change.

Damion Ciotti is the Pacific Southwest Region's Tribal Partnerships Specialist, in the Conservation Partnerships Office.

Contact Info: Michael Woodbridge, 916-978-4445, michael_woodbridge@fws.gov