Temperature & Flows

When the Eel River Recovery Project (ERRP) was formed in 2011, basin residents were concerned that the Eel River and its tributaries were drying up and that we were in danger of losing our salmon and steelhead. After four years of data collection, we have learned a lot about the ecological condition of the Eel River; we provide that information or links to it below.  Read Stream Temperatures in the Eel River Basin 1980-2015, Phase 1: Compilation and Preliminary Analysis.

Our recently completed State Water Board grant (Agreement 14-679-550) has allowed us to collect, analyze and share a wealth of data and information. In 2016, ERRP once again placed 100 automated temperature probes throughout the Eel River basin (See photos). Please support our work by becoming a member.

Eel River Basin Stream Temperature Report

Find out about water temperature at over 175 locations where ERRP or its cooperators collected data in 2015. Learn from our new report Stream Temperatures in the Eel River Basin 1980-2015, Phase 1: Compilation and Preliminary Analysis about temperature patterns between 1980-2015 and also what kind of shifts in temperature we might see with climate change. Google Earth maps allow review of 2015 temperature by site, with links that pop open charts for each location.

Location of Temperature Probes 1980-2015

Cooperators in 2015 included California State Parks, Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Native Fish Society, Friends of Van Duzen River and Humboldt Redwood Company. ERRP is annually assisted by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, including loan of automated temperature probes. North Coast Board staff utilize ERRP’s citizen-assisted monitoring data for purposes such as Total Maximum Daily Load related trend monitoring. See map of monitoring locations.

Interactive Map ~ Photos of Monitoring Sites

This interactive Google Map shows the loctions of temperature probes.  Click on the points to bring up photographs taken at each monitoring site.

Google Earth Maps

These Google Earth maps provide the temperature data collected at each site and show color coded stream reaches to indicate temperatures that are suitable or not suitable for salmon.  You must have Google Earth on your computer to view these maps. Download Google Earth.

Download kmz file for temperature data map.

Download kml file for color coded stream reaches

Monitoring Stream Flow

ERRP began monitoring in 2012 during an unprecedented long-term drought that lasted until the El Nino brought a good rainy season, beginning in December 2015.  In the summer of 2015, the emphasis of our monitoring expanded to include where streams were dewatered. Thanks to pilot Rich DeHaven, ERRP captured video of the lower Eel River showing it going underground in 2014. In September 2015, we worked with a flow expert, Doug Parkinson, and measured discharge of the lower Eel and South Fork when it was at record lows. See results.

Dry Stream Reaches ~ Eel River Basin 2015

See where stream reaches in the Eel River Basin went dry during the summer of 2015. Click map to enlarge.

Location of Time Lapse Cameras

Links to Time lapse videos
Van Duzen River
Elder Creek
Chamise Creek - July – December 2015
Chamise Creek– January- March 2016
NF Eel River – July-November 2015

The scope of ERRP’s analysis has shifted somewhat because of the current unprecedented drought. Many tributaries became dewatered and ERRP stream gauges in some locations help understand when surface flow was lost. Main branches of the Eel River also became disconnected or dewatered, including the lower main river in Fortuna as ERRP helped determine using aerial reconnaissance. Expert pilot and aerial video specialist Rich DeHaven volunteered his services, which was a phenomenal boon given the size and inaccessibility of the Eel River basin. See video 

A recent Friends of Eel River report found that there has been significant flow depletion occurring in some major Eel River tributaries over the last several decades. Long-term Streamflow and Precipitation Trends in the Eel River Basin. 

Flow Gauges

Main Eel at Scotia
Main Eel at Fort Seward
Middle Fork Eel at Dos Rios
Van Duzen River at Bridgeville
South Fork at Miranda
South Fork at Leggett
Bull Creek
Elder Creek
Main Eel at Scott Dam Refresh at bottom of screen by hitting "latest"

Temperature Reports from Previous Years

Baseline water temperature data collected since 1996 are substantial See study

Methods of data collection assure high data quality and follow protocols formulated by the Humboldt State University Forest Science Project

ERRP data collection and analysis since 2012 was made possible due to the generosity of the Rose Foundation Grassroots Fund, Patagonia Grassroots Fund, the Mateel Community Center, Pacific Watershed Associates, and private donors.

ERRP has collected trend data since 2012.  Results are summarized in these two reports.

ERRP 2012 Temperature Report
ERRP 2013 Temperature Report

Report about historic Eel River temperatures from 1957 through 1969

Humboldt Redwood Company Reports on aquatic conditions


Refugia

Even when streams lose surface flow in some reaches, they may maintain cold water reaches in their headwaters or isolated pools fed by groundwater. These places where salmon and steelhead juveniles can thrive even during drought are known as refugia, and ERRP wants to identify and help protect these areas because they are critical to the survival of native salmonids as we face climate change. Maps will be made of 2015 water temperature results and posted to the Internet showing where temperatures remained cool enough for salmonids and other locations as either stressful or likely lethal. See Refugia page.

Taking the Pulse of the Eel River - Pat Higgins

Taking The Pulse of the Eel River with Pat Higgins from Eel River Recovery Project on Vimeo.

Many Thanks to our Cooperators and Funders

Cooperators in 2015 included California State Parks, Round Valley Indian Tribes, the Native Fish Society, Friends of Van Duzen River and Humboldt Redwood Company. ERRP is annually assisted by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, including loan of automated temperature probes. North Coast Board staff utilize ERRP’s citizen-assisted monitoring data for purposes, such as Total Maximum Daily Load related trend monitoring.

ERRP data collection and analysis since 2012 was made possible due to the generosity of the Rose Foundation Grassroots Fund, Patagonia Grassroots Fund, the Mateel Community Center, Pacific Watershed Associates, and private donors.