Round Valley Salmon Awareness Festival – October 17-18 in Covelo

A Salmon Awareness Festival will take place on Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18 in Covelo with activities taking place in schools and at various venues over the two days.  The event is being co-sponsored by the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) and the Round Valley Indian Tribes (RVIT).  The event will present information on the health of the Eel River, including it salmon runs, and also on water conservation, water pollution prevention, forest health, and restoration. ERRP is a grassroots group formed in 2011 that uses citizen assisted monitoring to collect information on water quality, flows, toxic algae, and fish populations.  By providing trustable science, ERRP hopes to help communities come to agreement about the condition of their streams and work together to restore them to good health.

On Friday, October 17 a team of scientists, educators and artists will guest-teach in classrooms at Round Valley Elementary School.  These same presenters will be at the Round Valley Library Commons in Covelo on Saturday, October 18 from 10 AM to 3 PM, where they will put up posters and make presentations.

Keith Bouma-Gregson is a University of California doctoral student who is studying Eel River algae, including newly emerging problems with toxic Cyanobacteria or blue-green algae.  Keith was awarded a fellowship by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is just completing his second year of research.  He had 8 monitoring sites in 2013 where he worked with ERRP volunteers to measure water quality conditions and cyanotoxins, and expanded to 15 sites in 2014.  Toxics from blue-green algae are not uniformly present in the Eel River basin and Keith will have new information to share at the Salmon Awareness Festival.

Patrick Higgins is a fisheries biologist and watershed scientist who also serves as the ERRP Volunteer Coordinator.  He will present information on Chinook salmon population trends and water temperature and flows during the recent period of severe drought.  Pat has some great videos of fish at various Eel River locations that he will share with students on Friday, at the Library Commons on Saturday, and also at the video event to be held Saturday afternoon.

David Weitzman is a retired teacher and a successful author and he will teach students about how to make a book.  Southern Humboldt County educator Tom Grover will visit Covelo to share information on water conservation and sustainable agriculture methods.  RVIT EPA staff Eloisa Britton and North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board scientist Bryan McFadin will teach students about the need to measure water quality and how we can keep streams suitable for swimming and drinking.  Walt Feather of the RVIT Natural Resources Department will make a presentation entitled Fire and Water: Working Together for Forest and Stream Health. Tribal elder Ernie Merrifield will present information on Indian culture and the salmon.

Beginning at 1 PM on Friday, there will be a traditional dance by the Round Valley Feather Dancers at the Hidden Oaks Park, which is one quarter mile north of Covelo and to the east of Mina Road.  The dance will be followed by a digging of a traditional pit in which salmon will be cooked.  A free salmon dinner with local corn will be served at 4 PM, although donations will be accepted.  People wishing to make a side dish to contribute “pot luck” are encouraged to do so.

Saturday ERRP will take over the Round Valley Library Commons from 10 AM to 3 PM.  Videos will be running continuously, posters on various subjects will line the walls, and experts will be there to talk to the public and periodically present. At 2 PM, ERRP will convene a community scoping meeting that allows Round Valley residents and those attending from nearby areas to share information on the health of their local streams and what we can do to maintain and restore them.

At 4 PM the group will reconvene at the Library Commons to view video of fish of the Eel River, but also to watch a classic film: Eel Life of a Threatened River.  This is a tale of how plans to submerge Round Valley under a reservoir were blocked by local interests, including local rancher and former California Department of Forestry Executive Director Richard Wilson and Tribal leaders such as Ernie Merrifield, who appeared in the film and will say a few words before its airing.

Anyone needing more information can call Bruce Hilbach-Barger at 983-6169 or Pat Higgins at 707 223-7200.  More information is also available at

Round Valley Salmon Awareness Festival – October 17-18 in Covelo