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Help build Salmon Floating Structures Saturday

Building floating shade structures in 2022

The Mattole Salmon Group and the Bear River Band are assembling driftwood and willow structures this Saturday, August 26, 2023, at 10 AM to help protect juvenile salmon hanging out at Stansberry Creek.  Come join us – no special skills needed.  If you have loppers bring them to cut 1” willows shoots.

For more information, call 707-eight three 4 – five 34 zero.

2019 Estuary Survey

Sungnome in a canoe documenting bathymetric survey data

This year’s topographic survey was completed using Photogrammetry and a sUAS (aka Drone). We achieved an excellent absolute accuracy using this process along with about a dozen RTK surveyed Ground Control Points (thank you Conor Shae of the USFWS). In addition to a much more accurate survey, we also reduced costs as compared with a more traditional total station survey like we did in the past. The Estuary is ideal for drone mapping missions as the terrain is fairly flat and open. A total of nine flights at 300 feet altitude AGL (Above Ground Level). 

We conduct surveys as often as possible to collect the following data:

  • Topography of the estuary
  • LWD survey to identify large wood placed with a helicopter in 2013 & 2016
    • All placed wood had pit tags installed so we are now able to scan those tags to identify pieces of wood and track their movement
  • Bathymetric survey to identify pools and collect pool data

Download the Draft Final Report

A draft report was completed and is available for download here.


Josh Madrone standing on back side of Woodzilla2 in June 2019. Several feet of gravel has been deposited here, burying multiple logs and 5 ton boulders.

Overview and Intent of Proposed Action

Restoration of fish habitat in the Mattole River estuary requires a comprehensive multi-year approach. The approach presented here is driven by a set of biological objectives, which, in turn, are controlled by various physical processes at work in the lower Mattole River.

The biological objectives of this effort are to:

  • Improve juvenile salmonid survival during summer, low-flow periods
  • Increase availability of suitable winter rearing habitat, with emphasis on juvenile coho salmon winter refuge habitat.

To accomplish these objectives, this five-year strategy seeks to integrate our understanding of the dynamic nature of the lower river by identifying a suite of physical river features for treatment.

The intent of these treatments has several physical objectives:

  • Increase channel stability in the lower Mattole River
  • Increase instream habitat complexity
  • Promote riparian vegetation colonization and growth
  • Create a mosaic of varying streambed sediment sizes
  • Promote more variable topographic diversity in the reach
  • Increase connectivity to existing sloughs, alcoves, and other off-channel habitat
  • Increase stream nutrients available to native species

Finally, recognizing the dynamic setting of the lower Mattole River and our ever-improving understanding of riverine processes, the proposed action is intended to be adaptive. The adaptive elements of the plan are described in detail at the end of the proposed action section.

Three specific types of projects are proposed here:  placing structures on islands; installing structures at the apex of river bars; treatments along the margins of river terraces; and re-connecting a slough channel to the estuary. The specific treatment locations and types are described in detail below.

Monitoring Background

This follows monitoring work done in 2014, summer 2017, and now again in summer 2019. The 2019 survey was completed by Josh Madrone and Sungnome Madrone. A drone was used for topographic and bathymetric information combined with ground surveys of pool length, width, and depths, and locations of large wood/whole trees.

Previous Surveys

The two previous surveys were done by Total Station ground surveys, to survey features such as large wood/whole trees, stream barbs, structures, pools, and major topographic breaks. The 2014 survey was completed by Keith Barnard, Sungnome Madrone, and ________________. The 2017 survey was completed by Keith Barnard, Sungnome Madrone, Josh Madrone, and Brandon Madrone.

Survey Dates

The 2014 survey was completed in October, between the 7th and 30th. The flow at time of getting pool data was ~20 CFS. In 2017 we surveyed once around the 19th of May and again on the 1st of June. The flow at that time was between 240-380 CFS. In 2019 we surveyed on June 7th and again on September 13th. Pool data was collected with a flow of ~35 CFS.

Table 1. Survey dates and river flow


Survey dates

River flow (CFS)



October 7



October 30




March 13-14



May 17-19


Pools 1-16

June 1-2


Pools 17-19


June 7



September 13


Pools 1-14 (all)


Report Focus

This report will focus on the monitoring results from the summer 2019 survey for tree locations after 3-6 years of flows and rearrangement of large wood, as well as the location of pools in this lower river reach/estuary.

UAV Mapping (Photogrammetry)

Photogrammetry is the science of obtaining reliable measurements from photographs and digital imagery. The 2019 aerial imagery was collected with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – DJI Phantom 4 Pro v2 – with a 20 Megapixel camera, flying ~300 ft Above Ground Level (AGL). The resulting photos were processed in Agisoft MetashapePro v1.6.0 to create 3D spatial data to be used in GIS applications. The two primary outputs that were created and exported are a georeferenced orthomosaic, commonly used in geographic information systems (GIS) as a “map accurate” background image, and Digital Surface Model (DSM), which gives you the height of the objects that are on the surface of the earth. These files are saved in the most-GIS-compatible GeoTIFF format. Ground Control Points (GCP) were surveyed with RTK GPS by Connor Shae of USFWS, which were used in the reconstruction of the model, with a few saved for check points to measure the accuracy of the finished model.

3D Model in Agisoft MetaShape Pro

This year’s topographic survey was completed using Photogrammetry and a sUAS (aka Drone). We achieved an excellent absolute accuracy using this process along with about a dozen RTK surveyed Ground Control Points (thank you Conor Shae of the USFWS). In addition to a much more accurate survey, we also reduced costs as compared with a more traditional total station survey like we did in the past. The Estuary is ideal for drone mapping missions as the terrain is fairly flat and open. A total of nine flights at 300 feet altitude AGL (Above Ground Level). 

A draft report was completed and is available for download here.

Treatments Implemented

In Fall 2013 and again Fall of 2016 hundreds of whole trees were put into the estuary. Details are included in the Final Reports for those projects.

The 2016 helicopter wood placement component for this 2016 work included the following numbers of whole trees placed:

Table 2 – 2016 wood placement stats

Area L-1

12 pcs

Area L-2

9 pcs

Area R-1

9 pcs

Area R-2 and R-3

31 pcs

Area R-4

22 pcs

Area R-5

11 pcs

Woodzilla 2

9 pcs


103 pcs


A total of 103 pieces placed in-stream, at terrace margins, or on the right bank (nearly all were Whole-trees, with boles and integral root wads). Plus, approximately another 150 pieces were delivered to the south-side terrace — to sites L-3 and L-4, located upstream from the 2013 project area — and subsequently used for stream barbs (small to medium-sized trees, some without root wads). Trees were tipped on-slope with an excavator and placed in the river by helicopter. Total acres of riparian area treated was 20. Over 2000 15-foot long willow cuttings were planted in the deep trenched baffles.

We constructed 30 stream barbs with 160- 60 to 80-foot-long trees that were 16-36” in diameter with root wads and limbs. The total trench length was 2740 feet with 3,340 willow cuttings 15- 20 feet long and multi branched. The stream barbs treated 2010 feet of stream bank. This approach uses a bio-technical terrace margin treatment designed to increase bank resistance to erosion. The trenches were placed at about a 30-degree angle downstream with the flow and about 50-70 feet apart. The trenches were excavated 15-20 feet deep to the summer water table so that the cuttings were placed in water immediately after being cut. After backfilling the trenches, the area was regraded and mulched.


Monitoring Program

After tree placement was complete, the Mattole Salmon Group implemented a monitoring program to answer the question,” Which trees moved, under what size flows, and where.” This monitoring program involved placing a Passive Identification Tag (PIT) into each whole tree. A hole was drilled with a cordless drill at 4’ above root wad. The hole was drilled towards the center of the log, and at a depth to put the tag ½ inch under the cambium. The tag was inserted into the tree (see figure 5). Silicone calk was used to seal the hole and secure the tag. Trees with greater than 16” diameter got two tags, on opposite sides of the tree.  Additional information was collected about size (total length and diameter at breast height (DBH), species and complexity for each tree and associated with the trees individual number. Using a total station all trees were marked in their orientation on the landscape. 


The total station work gave us an as built map of the entire project site with one (1) foot contour intervals.

Two re-surveys have taken place since the project began.  One in the spring of 2014, and another in the Spring of 2017. Re-surveys involve scanning the tree PIT tags and using GPS to locate each tree on the project map. This shows which trees have moved and to where. We used a total station to re-map terrain elevations after many significant high flows (over 25,000 CFS) during 2016-2017.


Large Wood / Whole-Trees

The 2019 large wood survey found 64 pieces of large wood.

However, the actual number is greater because there are multiple structures with multiple pieces of large wood in them, which were recorded as a single piece (eg. Woodzilla 2 structure is 9 whole-trees).



In 2012 there were 8 pools 3-5 feet deep in the treatment reach. After the placement of the 2013 and 2016 heliwood trees, and after high flows of 2016/2017, there were 20 pools that were 5-12 feet deep in the same reach. All pools were in close association with the placed heliwood.

In 2019 there were 14 pools that were 4-10 feet deep (see Figure 7) It should be noted that a more restrictive definition for pools was implemented in 2019, which if used in previous surveys would have resulted in fewer pools. One goal in 2019 was to standardize definition of pools going forward to be able to easily replicate in the future.

Pool Definition

For our purposes, Pools are defined as a small part of the reach with reduced velocity, little surface turbulence and deeper water than surrounding areas. To be considered a pool for this survey, the maximum depth at the deepest point was a minimum of 4 feet. Additionally, pools have the following characteristics:

    1. a surface slope of 0%,
    2. a hydraulic control,
    3. a maximum pool depth >=4 ft, and
    4. often form around boulders or large woody debris,


Table 3 – 2019 Pool Measurements

Pool #




Volume (ft3)




































































Total volume of pools (ft3)



Pool locations are shown in Figure 7. Full size maps are available on the file server as geo-referenced PDFs ready to print at full-resolution up to Tabloid size (11×17).


The final map (see figure 8) shows large wood as placed as well as movement between surveys. This is a draft copy of this map and will be replaced in final version.


Flight Mission Planning

My workflow involves a multi-step process using a few different apps. Flight mission planning and image acquisition is done with Pix4D Capture using a DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.

Post image processing and dense point cloud are created with Agisoft MetaShape Pro. Final maps are produced using QGIS on a Mac.

Sample Flight Mission Plan in Pix4D Capture

Photo Gallery

Job Listing — Mattole Restoration Council is seeking an Executive Director

The Mattole Restoration Council is a 36 year-old watershed restoration non-profit on the Lost Coast of Northern California, with a million dollar plus annual budget and a regular staff of nine. We are a membership organization with an elected board of directors that undertakes landscape-scale watershed restoration and rehabilitation in the Mattole watershed and adjacent areas, and promotes a stewardship land ethic. For more information about our programs, please visit

Job responsibilities

  • Works with the board of directors to execute the mission and long-term strategic goals;
  • Oversees and manages 9 regular staff and 60 seasonal employees;
  • Leads fundraising efforts and works with the program staff to develop projects and submit grant proposals to various federal and state agencies and foundations;
  • Directs the implementation of organizational policies and the strategic plan;
  • Acts as liaison to the community, partner groups, agencies, and other stakeholders;
  • Oversees fiscal management.

Desired Qualifications

  • Excellent communication skills;
  • Experience with fundraising and developing federal and state grant proposals;
  • Experience with managing federal and state contracts;
  • Ability to establish dynamic relationships with a broad base of stakeholders;
  • Experience with non-profit fiscal and personnel management;
  • Commitment to community based watershed restoration;
  • A background in environmental science/biology/ecology;
  • Familiarity with watershed restoration strategies and methods;
  • Strong sense of self-direction and self-organization;

The position is full to half time (negotiable), and reports to the board of directors. Compensation is commensurate with experience, and includes health, vacation, training and retirement benefits. The position is based in the Petrolia office, with travel throughout the watershed and Northern California. A valid driver’s license and functioning personal vehicle are required.

To Apply: Email cover letter, resume/CV and three references to John Williams, For more information, call John at 707 629 3265.

Job Listing — Sanctuary Forest is seeking a Program & Administrative Assistant

Sanctuary Forest seeks a highly organized, detail-oriented and experienced individual to assist with office and program duties. This position is based at our office in Whitethorn, about 30 minutes west of Garberville.

This position is 20 hours per week, 3-4 days per week. Pay rate based on skill level and experience. Sick leave, holiday pay and vacation provided.

Please submit cover letter and resume, with references, to—put job title in the subject line. For more information, send inquiries to the above email address, or call (707) 986-1087 ext. 1#.

Position open until filled.

For a complete job description, click here.

Reducing Sediment and Improving Salmonid Habitat in Coulborn and Sebbas Creeks

Funded by: the CDFW and Lost Coast Forestlands


The Mattole Salmon Group, in collaboration with participating landowners, heavy equipment contractor McCullough Construction, the CDFW, Pacific Watershed Associates and Lost Coast Forestlands, recently completed a project designed to reduce sediment delivery and improve salmonid habitat in Coulborn and Sebbas Creeks, located in the Middle South Fork Eel watershed, approximately 7 miles upstream of the confluence of Indian Creek and South Fork Eel River.

The objective of the project is to reduce sediment delivery and improve water quality for all life stages of salmonids in Indian Creek by preventing the delivery of approximately 5,129 yd3 of sediment from road-related sediment delivery features to Coulborn and Sebbas Creeks including, upgrading 17 features on 1.9 miles of road and decommissioning 38 features on 3.5 miles of road (a total of 55 features on 5.4 miles of road).

Completion of the project included installing culverts at stream crossings, planting trees along stream channels, applying straw mulch and rock to control erosion, and spreading native grass seed to re-plant bare earth surfaces.


Anecdotal information provided by Scott Downie (CDFW, retired), local foresters with historical knowledge, and several sources of unpublished literature, indicate that instream habitat in the Indian Creek tributaries became degraded primarily in the 1950s to 1980s as a result of unrestricted logging, tractor yarding, and road construction practices. Many of the Indian Creek watershed tributaries were filled with logging debris and sediment, and were used as skid trails and railroad routes during the first and second cycles of logging, the remnants of which can still be observed today. In the 1970s these watersheds were further subjected to stream clearing, which resulted in the removal of significant volumes of Large Woody Debris (LWD). The legacy effect of all of these deleterious activities is clearly identified in each stream inventory report and is manifested as chronic fine sediment delivery from the road system, episodic catastrophic failure of stream crossings, a diminished pool frequency and cover, significant bank erosion along stream channels, locally dysfunctional or poorly functioning riparian habitat, and high values of substrate embeddedness.


Decommissioned Stream Crossing

Heavy equipment and labor subcontractor, McCullough Construction, a highly skilled and well qualified heavy equipment contractor, provided all the necessary heavy equipment, experienced operators, and skilled laborers required to complete the project as designed. This included but may not be limited to the excavation of stream crossing fills, unstable road fills, road drainage treatments, and installation of instream structures using a team of hydraulic excavators, bulldozers, and dump trucks. In addition, laborers were used to spread straw and mulch, man and monitor pumps during necessary dewatering operations, maintain and monitor equipment, and work on in-stream habitat improvement structures. Laborers will also conduct tree planting this winter as the final phase of implementation.

22nd Annual 2017 Mattole Summer Steelhead Dives

About the Dives
The 2017 Mattole Summer Steelhead Dive will be Friday, July 7th and Saturday, July 8th.  Conducted annually since 1996, this watershed-wide survey is our primary source of information on the abundance and distribution of adult summer-run steelhead, and also provides information on the distribution of other native and non-native aquatic species.
We are excited to host this year’s dives at the beautiful A.W.Way county park. We will have a camp site reserved with limited tent space available for Friday and Saturday night. This year we are asking divers for a $5-10 donation to help us offset the costs of camping and day-use fees. There are flush toilets, hot showers and an awesome swimming hole!

Please RSVP by Friday, June 30th.  The RSVP date helps us to make everything run smoother for scheduling, so we appreciate your help in responding as soon as possible.

Complete the RSVP Questionnaire by clicking the link below

RSVP Questionnaire

Friday, July 7:  We will meet at A.W.Way county park (directions below) at 8:00 a.m. Please do not be late. We will have coffee and pastries, and gear for those who have reserved it.

Saturday, July 8:  We will meet at A.W. Way County Park at 8:00 a.m. When you are done diving, bring all gear and data sheets back to the park where we will host a BBQ for all of our volunteers!

Tentative Itinerary (Times are subject to change.)
Thursday, July 6th
12:00PM – Overnight camping becomes available at A. W. Way Park
Friday, July 7th
8:00AM – All Participants meet at A. W. Way; Breakfast and Coffee
8:15AM – 9:00AM Welcome, Introduction, Safety Protocol, Gear Distribution, Shuttle Information
9:00AM-5:00PM Summer Steelhead Dives
5:00PM Meet at A. W. Way to collect data sheets and relax at the camp site
Saturday, July 8th
8:00AM – All Participants meet at A. W. Way; Breakfast and Coffee
8:15AM – 9:00AM Welcome, Introduction, Safety Protocol, Gear Distribution, Shuttle Information
9:00AM-5:00PM Summer Steelhead Dives
5:00PM –  Collect Data Sheets, Gear, etc.; BBQ at A. W. Way Park for Summer Steelhead Divers.
Sunday, July 9th
12:00PM – Campsite check-out time, A. W. Way Park
Gear Needed:
  • Mask and Snorkel
  • Dive/Wading Boots
  • Hood and gloves for colder, upriver reaches
  • Wet Suit
  • Dry Bag/Waterproof Container for your lunch (IMPORTANT).
  • Small Daypack
Please bring your own gear if you have it!  Decontaminate any gear you bring prior to arriving for the Summer Steelhead Dives.  The MSG does have limited gear, but it is always at a premium for the SSD due to how many great divers we have every year (THANK YOU!). Our gear will be available on a first come first serve basis depending on when you RSVP and sign up. We will let you know prior to the dives  if we cannot accommodate your gear needs. If you have extra gear you would be willing to loan to other divers, PLEASE bring it.
If you do need gear, you need to let us know ahead of time by completing the RSVP questionnaire.  Please do not show up and assume we will have gear for you.
There is no pre-dive training this year, but please thoroughly read over our training packet attached before you arrive to the dives.
Camping Logistics:
If you are camping please bring your own gear and cooking supplies. Please bring your own lunches for and Saturday in a waterproof container, dinner for Thursday night, Friday night, and any additional food you may need. A light breakfast is provided each day, but please bring additional food if you need it.
To reduce waste, please bring your own drinking and eating utensils and plates for the BBQ.
First-come first-serve camping is also available at the BLM campground at Mattole Beach.
Fill up your vehicle up with gas prior to the dives in either Garberville, Fortuna, or Eureka. There are general stores with gas and some groceries in Petrolia and Honeydew, but hours and selection are limited – come prepared with food and gas.
Directions to A.W. Way County Park:
Coming from the South: on Hwy 101, take the South Fork/Honeydew exit (22 miles north of Garberville) turn left onto the Mattole road, entering Humboldt Redwoods State Park, after 22 miles you will cross a green spanning bridge over the Mattole, take a right after the bridge and follow the Mattole road for another 8 miles, the park is on your left hand side.
Coming from the North: From Ferndale, turn right onto Bluff street/Ocean Ave and your first left onto Wildcat Ave/Mattole road. Take this for 36 miles, the park will be on your right.

I know it will be an amazing time, thank you all for making our annual dive possible, and look forward to seeing you soon! Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions!

Feel free to forward this information to anyone you think may be interested in helping with the Mattole Dives this year!
Mattole Salmon Group