Fisheries scientists will visit the South Fork of the Smith River next week for a symposium focusing on the endangered coho salmon.

Held Aug. 24–26, the Salmonid Restoration Federation’s 21st-Annual Coho Confab will focus on watershed restoration, techniques and efforts to help coho salmon recover. The symposium will be held at Rock Creek Ranch and will include tours of stream and valley floor restoration efforts in the Lower Klamath tributaries as well as a tour of large woody debris projects led by Dan Burgess, of California State Parks.

There will be an open forum discussing how monitoring coho salmon can inform restoration activities, featuring California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientist Justin Garwood; Julie Weeder, coho salmon recovery coordinator for NOAA Fisheries; Darren Mierau, North Coast director of Cal Trout, and Patty McCleary, co-director of the Smith River Alliance. Garwood oversees the coho monitoring program in the Smith River.

The symposium will also include a community dinner on Friday and a presentation by geologist and climate scientist Mike Furniss on “Geology is Destiny, Why the Smith River is What It Is.”

The Salmonid Restoration Federation is a statewide organization that puts on the largest salmon restoration conference in California, according to Executive Director Dana Stolzman. The organization hosts two symposiums focused on steelhead recovery issues and spring run chinook recovery issues. But coho salmon are much more endangered than steelhead or chinook, Stolzman said.

The Coho Confab is one of the organization’s smaller symposiums, but it was created even before the fish was placed on the Endangered Species List for people to see what scientists were doing to help the species recover, according to Stolzman

“For this particular event, (we’re) specifically hosting it in regions where there is still coho salmon refugia, which is the main reason we’ve returned to the Smith again and again,” Stolzman said Monday. “We really hope that by bringing leading scientists to the Smith and talking about different techniques that have been applied throughout and are definitely being applied more frequently in the Smith, we can help promote restoration efforts.”

The people who will be presenting at the symposium include Michael Pollock, who promotes the use of beavers, which had been native to a lot of coastal streams in California and create deep pools, helping to rehabilitate lower parts of the Smith River, according to Stolzman.

Another presentation by Humboldt State University graduate student Marisa Parish, who is working with the Smith River Alliance, will focus on recommended actions that could increase coho salmon populations, Stolzman said.

Stolzman added that hosting the symposium alongside the Smith River simply gives many fisheries scientists a chance to see the wild and scenic stream.

“We tour local projects, but we also bring scientists from other areas that can bring skills and techniques that are being applied to other regions,” she said.

The cost to participate in the three-day symposium is $200, which includes meals and camping, according to Stolzman. For any locals who want to come for the dinner and keynote presentations on Aug. 24, the cost is $25.

To register for the event, visit http://www.calsalmon.org.

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