The following is taken from the Mattole Salmon Chronicle, February 2010 edition.
Executive Views... The Year Ahead
by Keytra Meyer, Mattole Salmon Group Executive Director
Well, I hate to start off this great newsletter with bad
news, but here it is…our coho are almost gone. This last winter (09-10)
we saw 3 live coho adults and 1 coho redd.
We are not able to see every fish or redd in the watershed, but this is,
nonetheless, alarming. It’s the worst we’ve ever seen, and talking
to those in the community, it looks like the worst year for coho in the Mattole
ever. Historical estimates range from 17,000-20,000 adults. 1950s and
1960s estimates were 8,000 and 5,000 respectively. A couple of years ago
we estimated low hundreds…now we are talking about a couple dozen.
We used to find coho throughout the watershed; now we really only see them
in the upper 10 miles of the watershed. The adults and redd observed this
winter were all in a single creek. Coho salmon need cold water. They need
healthy flows. They need areas to hide from predators, find food, and retreat
from high flows. They need to be able to find a mate.
While restoration projects are undoubtedly improving salmonid habitat,
restoring ecosystems takes time. Unfortunately, time is not on our side in
terms of coho. We need to take measures now to ensure that, in the least, a
few of fish continue to return to the Mattole. We, as a community, need to
make sure there is water in the river, especially in the headwaters. We need
to ensure that fish don’t become stranded and die from disconnected pools.
We need to ensure that there is adequate wood in the river and on the banks.
We might even need to take drastic measures - such as a supportive breeding
program - to ensure that they are able to find a mate. We need to ensure that
the last few adults are not poached as they try to make their way upriver this
fall/winter. We need to ensure that all of these measures are a community
To say the least, the Mattole Salmon Group is putting its energy and focus on
coho this year. Please help us and please do whatever you can. Tell us if you
see stranded juveniles. Tell us if you see adults held up in pools. Tell us if you
have information we are missing (where coho are or use to be located). Tell
us if you would like to help, or if you have goods or services that could be of
assistance. Please call us, anytime.
I look forward to hearing from you.
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