Big Picture: River Ecology at Work

Recovery of steelhead trout and other salmon species in northern California’s Eel River watershed has been threatened by pikeminnow for decades. Although they are native to California, pikeminnow are invasive to the Eel River and known to prey on or compete for resources with native fish.

To advance recovery efforts for native salmon, researchers in the lab of Cooperative Extension professor Ted Grantham and their collaborators have recently received permits to remove pikeminnows in the Eel River system. Working with the Wiyot Tribe and the freshwater advocacy group California Trout, Gabe Rossi and Phil Georgakakos are overseeing the development and deployment of an experimental weir on the river’s south fork.

The photo here shows Rossi examining the weir with Keane Flynn, a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno. While fish are able to move downstream freely through a chute, all migrating fish are herded into a pen as they move upstream. The system is designed to let native fish continue upstream while allowing for the removal of non-native fish. Learn more in a video on the project.