Restoration Overview

Habitat restoration has been a central focus for the Smith River Alliance (SRA) since 1980. Our first project was the Myrtle Creek Coordinated Watershed Rehabilitation Project in partnership with California Trout and the Department of Fish Game.  This resulted in a Watershed Resource Atlas for the Myrtle Creek sub basin and guided habitat improvement projects.  More recently, the Smith River Anadromous Fish Action Plan (2002) has provided excellent impetus for a number of successful projects. The Plan is available in the SRA Document Library and see Videos for a short video chronicling the successful Cedar Creek Fish Passage Restoration project.

With the acquisition of the 25,000 acre Mill Creek property in 2002 SRA assumed a leadership role in securing emergency restoration, management, and monitoring funds for this critically important property.  Mill Creek is a core production tributary for the Smith River.  From about 2004 through 2017 SRA secured and partnered on over $8 million in grants for erosion prevention – road decommissioning, forest and aquatic habitat restoration, and fisheries monitoring projects with a Mill Creek focus. Please see the Mill Creek tab for more information —- and be sure and take time for two videos —- Hamilton Creek Fish Passage and Reweaving the Fabric: Mill Creek Restoration for a short feature on a successful specific project and a longer overview of restoration in this important tributary.

Estuaries are nature’s nursery for salmonids and a host of other aquatic and terrestrial species. For this reason SRA is partnering with local stakeholders such as the Del Norte Resource Conservation District, private landowners, and funding entities to plan and implement an ambitious suite of habitat restoration projects.  It’s a team effort and SRA is pleased to report excellent progress with several projects underway.  Please see the Estuary tab for more info and project highlights.

In the mid and upper watershed, SRA has teamed up with eight motivated stakeholder entities and Six Rivers National Forest to launch the Smith River Collaborative to advance habitat restoration, fuels treatment, and other projects across the 358,000+ acre Smith National Recreation Area (NRA). The Collaborative has been instrumental in securing multiple grants for a range of priority projects.  Please see the Smith River Collaborative link below for more information.

Overall, completed restoration projects will enable more coho, Chinook, steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, and other aquatic species to use historical habitat areas. Fuels, forest restoration, and Travel Management projects being developed and funded through the Smith River Collaborative for the NRA are improving terrestrial habitat and reducing erosion to adjacent waterways.  A central theme for SRA across the coastal plain and the NRA is strong partnerships with private and public entities.  As we like to say, it takes a team.

The Smith River is a stronghold for salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout in California; at least five species in multiple runs use the river. It is unparalleled in its combination of natural river flows, protected habitat and healthy fish populations. The protection and enhancement of the Smith River is an investment that will help sustain salmon fisheries in California and will also help support recovery of salmon populations in the Klamath River. The need for forward thinking restoration is the key to ensuring that the Smith remains one of the premier salmon strongholds along the Pacific Coast.


The Smith River is often described as a “Salmon Stronghold,” however, restoration of the coastal plain habitats is a priority.

Mill Creek

Ongoing restoration work in the Mill Creek watershed is important to salmon and wildlife such as marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl and other species.

Smith River Collaborative

SRA is teamed with eight other stakeholders and Six Rivers National Forest to advance priority projects across the National Recreation Area.