In 1980, Smith River Alliance was incorporated as a non-profit organization of conservation, sport fishing, recreation, and civic groups united in their support for sound management of the Smith River as a component of both the National and the California Wild and Scenic Rivers systems.

Over twenty local, regional and statewide organizations were represented at the time of incorporation, including:

American Fisheries Society (Humboldt Chapter)
American League Anglers
Audubon Society
California Committee of Two Million
California Native Plant Society
California Trout
California Wilderness Coalition
Defenders of Wildlife
Federation of Fly Fishermen
Friends of Del Norte
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the River
League of Women Voters of California
Marin Conservation League
Mendocino Environmental Center
Northcoast Flyfishers
Planning and Conservation League
Sierra Club


Since its inception, SRA has been a leader in the conservation and stewardship of watershed resources. The following is a summary of project highlights.

Mill Creek Habitat Restoration Project: SRA has partnered with State Parks, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), Save-the-Redwoods League and others to implement critical restoration projects on this 25,000 acre property. SRA secured grants for road decommissioning, salmonid habitat restoration, forest restoration, and other project components during this period. Read more.

Hurdygurdy Creek: SRA secured a purchase agreement for the last large inholding (5,400 acres) within the Smith River NRA. The property includes over 4000 acres along Hurdygurdy Creek, which is one of the best salmon spawning and rearing streams in the NRA. SRA launched a campaign to purchase these properties and transfer them to the NRA for long-term management and restoration. Read more.

Pacific Shores Conservation Project: This project was initiated in 2003 and since then SRA has facilitated the purchase of over 777 lots, which have been then transferred to the Lake Earl Wildlife Area. The Wildlife Area includes extraordinary plant and wetland habitats and is home to the largest coastal lagoon south of Alaska. Read more.

Visitor Services Pilot Project: SRA secured a foundation grant and matching funds from the National Park Service to support development of a stakeholder agreement among local Tribes, Del Norte County, the Smith River NRA, the Crescent City/Del Norte Chamber of Commerce, and Redwood National and State Parks — to support improved collaboration around tourism services. This project also provided $15,000 toward the development and maintenance of a new website to direct visitors to recreation opportunities and services throughout the county.

Salmonid Restoration Program: In cooperation with the Smith River Advisory Council and with the support of private foundations and public funders, SRA has been a key partner on habitat restoration projects along the lower river, estuary, and in the upper watershed. Example projects include the Cedar Creek culvert to bridge replacement, which has opened up over one mile of pristine spawning and rearing habitat to coho and other salmonids; and the Yontocket Slough Fish Passage and Habitat Enhancement Project in the estuary — nature’s nursery for fish and other aquatic species. Learn more: Cedar Creek (video) | Yontocket Slough.

Goose Creek Watershed Acquisition: SRA was a key partner to Western Rivers Conservancy, California Trout, and Del Norte County in the campaign to acquire the Goose Creek property—an important inholding in the Smith River NRA. Funding was secured to complete the purchase of this 9500-acre property on the Smith’s largest tributary for inclusion in the Smith River National Recreation Area (NRA). SRA worked with many diverse partners — at the local, regional, state, and national level to complete this project. Read more.

Coho Recovery Planning: A grant from DFG to SRA enabled SRA and other non-governmental organizations to participate in the development of recommendations for the recovery of coho salmon throughout their range. Recommendations for the Smith River watershed help guide SRA’s participation in restoration projects in the lower Smith River and estuary. Read more.

Mill Creek Watershed Acquisition: SRA was been a key partner to Save-the-Redwoods League, California Trout, and other fishery groups in raising over $60 million for the acquisition of the 25,000 acre Mill/Rock Creek property, which was completed in 2002. Read more.

Purchased Rock Creek Ranch on the South Fork Smith River in 2002 to support education, restoration, and stewardship projects. In cooperation with Crescent City Afternoon Rotary, U.S. Forest Service, Redwood Economic Development Center, the Yurok Tribe, Del Norte County Unified School District, and local businesses — SRA began hosting a day camp each summer at the Ranch for at-risk youth. Read more.

Annual Summer Adult Fish Surveys: In cooperation with the DFG, U.S. Forest Service and others, SRA began hosting and organizing annual fish surveys in 2000. Read more.

National Recreation Area (NRA) Establishment and Implementation: SRA organized and led the campaign for establishment of the NRA. Since passage of the legislation in 1990, SRA has worked with the U.S. Forest Service to implement the Act. Specific projects have included removal of the Monkey Creek Dam and work to secure protection of the portion of the North Fork in Oregon through the Northwest Forest Plan. Read more.

Smith River Advisory Council, Coastal Salmon Initiative, Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Coalition: SRA has continued to work for the protection and recovery of coastal salmonids through these and other programs. Read more.

Watershed Restoration: SRA secured (AB 951) funding from DFG in 1982 for restoration and rehabilitation on select tributaries. Projects incorporated worker training programs, outreach to private landowners, a Watershed Resource Atlas for Myrtle Creek, and evaluation of rehabilitation techniques. This DFG funded project led to other projects involving the Redwood Community Action Agency and funding from the Coastal Conservancy.

Cal-Nickel Strip Mine: SRA worked closely with local public interest organizations, attorneys representing the public trust, and state and national organizations to block subsidies (through the Defense Production Act) for this proposed mining venture and to insure that all environmental laws and regulations would be followed.

Wild and Scenic River Designation: SRA was a leader in the campaign to include California’s Wild and Scenic Rivers in the federal Wild and Scenic System.