April 2024



"Pacific salmon are keystone species, and play an essential role in the health and function of ecosystems.

Salmon benefit other species as food and their bodies enrich habitats through the cycling of nutrients from the ocean to freshwater streams."

NOAA Fisheries,

Ecosystem Interactions

and Pacific Salmon

Images in this article, unless otherwise noted, are from Pacific Watershed Association's report.

MLT Project Moving Forward

Chamberlain Creek

It's no secret that salmon need all the help they can get!

The Mendocino Land Trust is proud to release this update on our Chamberlain Creek Fish Passage Project, which has been years in the making. Almost $1.5 million will be required to assess, design, and execute this project to help remove barriers to salmon migration. MLT secured grant funding from the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program to design a new creek crossing that will replace an existing culvert currently blocking passage for juvenile salmon!

Below you can read an abridged version of the assessment of the problematic culvert on Chamberlain Creek. Kudos to those on our grant-writing and stewardship team who have worked hard to help restore access for coho salmon and other aquatic organisms.

This identified culvert is limiting access to about 1.6 miles of upstream habitat, and it is at a high risk of failure.

The existing fish habitat was evaluated under low-flow conditions beginning 300 feet downstream from the culverted

This Passage Design Project 100% Basis of Design Memorandum details the culvert's current condition, fish passage potential for coho salmon, and plans for removing and replacing the culvert.

The culvert is failing, and the bottom is nearly rusted through

exceed the burst speed needed for an adult to each the upstream side.

Although inaccessible under current conditions, and most likely under flows during winter and storm events, the habitat above the culvert is suitable for spawning and rearing coho and other salmonid populations, and for Pacific lamprey populations, which all depend on this tributary watershed.

Project Design Memorandum

Passage Design Project

Abridged & Edited by MLT

The objectives of this project (by the Pacific Watershed Associates) were to develop a design to improve passage for coho salmon and Pacific lamprey at a single crossing. This crossing is a barrier for coho adults and juveniles in Chamberlain Creek, a tributary to the North Fork Big River.

Chamberlain Creek supports endangered coho populations.

crossing and ending 300 feet upstream from this crossing.

The crossing was described in a 2011 Stream Inventory Report as having a 0.7-foot plunge at the outlet with some holes in the culvert bottom, and coho juveniles were observed above the crossing. However, in a 2021 survey, by Pacific Watershed Associates, no coho juveniles were observed above the crossing. PWA's survey also found that the culvert's condition had degraded over 10 years and nearly all the stream flow was through the rusted bottom and under the culvert.

and the creek flows underneath. Sediment accumulation limits pool-jump depths required for adults to leap into the culvert and travel upstream.

Deeper water levels within the culvert could also present as a barrier for adults, where the laminar flow velocities could

Note: The photo directly above and to the immediate left are from MLT's archives. The new culvert installation photo shown above is from a previous MLT salmon conservation project. Chamberlain Creek's replacement culvert will be similar.

This article is an edited portion of a 112-page report prepared by: Pacific Watershed Associates Inc. That document, which can be viewed here, includes PWA's design plans.

Please Welcome

Chase Ahrens Stewardship

Project Coordinator

Chase is our new Stewardship Project Coordinator. He will help the stewardship team maintain public access to trails and care for Land Trust properties. For the last few years, Chase has been working up and down the coast as an ocean lifeguard for the California State Parks.

He enjoys mountain biking, surfing, climbing and hiking along with most outdoor activities.

Chase lives in Elk with his partner Phoebe and their dog Grizzly, and he is looking forward to being a part of the Land Trust team and thrilled to grow and learn with them as well.

Drop him a line!


A Fascinating Fish Tale

by Michael Heine

Yikes, what’s with this bright red, three-foot-long creature flopping around MY backyard? How the heck did it get here?

Well, it’s a fascinating fish-story if there ever was one. Let’s take a moment to tell the tale.

These behemoths are colloquially referred to as “salmon,” the most common along the North Coast of California being coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) and Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha). If you’re someone whose turf is infested, consider yourself lucky. There are fewer and fewer people who suffer from this particular backyard “malady” nowadays. Salmon may be tenacious swimmers and famous for surviving epic migrations across thousands of miles, but they are much harder to find than they were a century ago.

Salmon live life traveling in one big loop. They emerge from their eggs in freshwater streams and rivers after just a few weeks or months of growth. Next, they spend several months hiding from predators in their nests and in small, shallow pools. They face long odds – only 1% or so of these eggs survive to adulthood. As the hatchlings grow and get bigger, they venture into deeper waters within the river. There they will continue growing for one to two years. Then they begin to turn a silvery color. This offers better protection as they can blend in with the ocean while they move into the lagoons and estuaries at the mouths of rivers. Here, they acclimate to salt water, and then they move to live the bulk of their lives in the ocean until they’re given the cue that it’s time to come home.

How does this happen?

Adults sense changes in their environment caused by the first decent rains of the year. Different species follow a different “clock.” The coho come home to spawn after about three years while Chinook can take up to seven years to return to the exact rivers and streams where they were spawned. 

During this arduous trip, salmon will search to find suitable spawning habitat. They crave cool, clear water flowing over beds of gravel. They will fight for nest space, court mates, spawn, and then die. 

This trip home takes its life-ending toll. Not every adult makes it back. 

While homeward bound, salmon do not eat, their scales are scraped off from rocks, and they are constantly preyed upon. This may seem sad, but it’s an essential part of the ecosystem’s health. Salmon deaths are genetically programmed to occur during this journey. Their bodies decay and nourish both the water they’re in and the surrounding forests.

This cycle of birth-growth-travel-transformation-and-return has been going on since long before recorded history. But while they’re often depicted in massive schools fighting their way upstream, California’s salmon are currently a fraction of what they were a century ago. Centuries of logging, damming, and water diversion has sent an unnatural amount of sediment into our watersheds, burying the gravel beds salmon need as dams came up and blocked migration routes. Perhaps some of the worst blows came in 1955 and 1964, when both years experienced historic flooding that flushed a century’s worth of logging sediment into our waterways, essentially “flattening” rivers and destroying the complex network of deep pools salmon spend the summers in addition to spawning beds.

California’s salmon are in a fight for their very existence, but they have allies! 

The Klamath River is currently the site of the largest dam removal project in U.S. history. The Eel River is slated to have its dams come down, and a dedicated network of conservation groups are pouring countless hours into restoration projects to assure that bright red, three-foot-long critter in your “backyard” will be a much more common sight in the future.

So chill out. Flop down next to that fish. And say hello.

Or maybe just take a picture?


This is just one of Mike's recent stories in Wildlife Wednesdays, seen on MLT's social media and our website. To read more of these, click here.

Mendocino Film Festival 2024

MLT Sponsors Giants Rising June 1st & 2nd

MLT invites you to join us at the Mendocino Film Festival's tent during the screening of Giants Rising at 1 pm, June 1. The film is journey into the heart of America's most iconic forests, revealing the secrets and the saga of the coast redwoods--the tallest and among the oldest living beings on Earth.

Prior to the film, MLT will share a two-minute short featuring the Pelican Bluffs. Afterwards, MLT Executive Director Conrad Kramer will speak briefly about MLT's work to conserve redwoods.

Sunday, June 2, Giants Rising will be shown in Fort Bragg, at Coast Cinemas, at 1pm. MLT will have an informational table outside the theater, but no discussion to follow. 

For information on the Film Festival's other offerings, check this link.

Join a Great Team!

MLT Board Has Openings

MLT is seeking to expand its Board of Trustees and encourages applicants from diverse backgrounds who can help our Board evolve to reflect the diversity of Mendocino County.

Click here for details.

Important Dates

Call for Volunteers - Hare Creek Beach Stewards

4/13/2024 10 am - Information available at this link.

Celebration of Life for Long-Time Volunteer, Art Morley

4/13/24 6 pm - Information available at this link.

Earth Day @ Noyo Food

4/20/2024,10 am - Information available at this link.

Pelican Bluffs Hike - 10th Anniversary Celebration

5/4/2024 - 11 am - Information available at this link.

Celebrate the Coast

5/18/2024 - Information available at this link.

Mendocino Film Festival

5/30-6/2/2024 - Information available at this link.

Be A 2024 Business Sponsor!

Join those businesses that see the many benefits of supporting MLT. Pro-rated memberships available for those coming on board after the first of the year.

Here's a shout-out link to recognize the many 2023 businesses who have found it helps the community, the environment, and their business by helping MLT.

Here's a rundown on the perks of being a partner.

Interested? Contact us at info@mendocinolandtrust.org

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