Sarah Kupferberg, Bill Dietrich, and Mary Power participated in a Fish and Aquatics Day celebration as a kickoff of the “Willits Hub” on Sunday, March 19th 2017. The Willits Hub is being launched as a meeting place and headquarters for several non-profit environmental groups in the Willits area, including the Eel River Recovery Project.
Pat Higgins (ERRP’s Managing Director) invited Sarah to give a talk on her 20+ years of research on Rana boylii, i.e. the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog, a native frog that breeds in the Eel River. Bill talked about the Critical Zone (the thin, water-exchanging skin of the Earth between the top of the vegetation and the bottom of the weathered bedrock beneath the soil) and why the geology of this zone matters for water storage and resilience to drought in the forests and grasslands along the California North Coast. Mary told a bit about the history of the Angelo Reserve—the stories of the Angelo-Steel families who protected this land, and some of the adventures that students and scientists have had in studying its creatures, plants, soils, river food webs, and landscapes. In addition, Pat gave brief talks about sediments and river bugs, and Park Steiner reported on his very long-term studies of chinook carcass trends in the upper mainstem Eel and Tomki Creek. A meeting highlight was the remarkable footage shown by filmmaker Shane Anderson as a preview of his forthcoming movie about the Eel: “A River’s Last Chance”.
We felt fortunate to meet old friends and new ones at the Willits Hub who share our concern over the future of the Eel River ecosystem, and look forward to future get-togethers, some at the Angelo Reserve!