The Current - Articles Smith River Alliance - Summer 2015 - Page 7

SRA Work Goes Well Beyond Just Fighting Mines

During the last 15 years, the SRA/CalTrout team has been a key partner or lead in the permanent protection of over 40,000 acres of important habitat and land in the watershed. In 2002, SRA worked with Save The Redwoods League to purchase and transfer 25,000 acres of the Mill Creek watershed — long recognized as the core-production tributary for Smith River salmon — into Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.

Protection of Mill Creek was followed in 2008 by the purchase and transfer into the SRNRA of 9,500 acres of the Goose Creek basin, another critically important tributary for salmonids that drains over seven percent of the Smith River watershed. From 2003 to present, SRA has worked with a private timber company to acquire the last remaining large private inholding in the SRNRA ---- the 5,400 acre Hurdygurdy Creek property. This property includes 4,400 acres in the watershed of Hurdygurdy Creek, providing prime spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. More information about these acquisitions can be found by following this link.

Habitat and Watershed Restoration

Securing permanent protection of key habitat areas is only one part of a long-term strategy for protecting and maintaining a salmon stronghold. Restoration is also essential for successful recovery of our salmon, steelhead, and trout. While the Smith is often referred to as pristine, in fact there have been many changes across the watershed that have accompanied the settlement by our European ancestors. Roads and culverts, vast timber harvest areas, realignment of streams, and levees along the mainstem of the river are some of the changes to the landscape which have not been friendly to native fish and wildlife. Once again, SRA and partners — including CalTrout — have been part of a leadership team securing funds and implementing the highest priority restoration projects.