While stream reaches like the upper South Fork at Leggett and upper Van Duzen River at Grizzly Creek had low algae levels in the first week in August, those conditions could change rapidly. Also, even in areas that are algae-free, swimmer's itch is present, which can cause a mild flea-bite like rash. Advanced algal blooms and potentially toxic conditions are developing in the lower South Fork, lower Van Duzen and lower Eel River. In the future ERRP hopes that additional volunteer monitors will take initiative and submit photos and site descriptions of their favorite swimming spots and to expand coverage to all areas of the watershed. People can check out the new ERRP Facebook page created to facilitate social media that can be used to help provide information and photos.
The 2013 ERRP toxic algae monitoring project is being led by doctoral candidate Keith Bouma-Gregson, who is not only training volunteers but also using
ERRP is coordinating with Humboldt County Public Health and County Parks, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Wiyot Tribe on this project. Studies and observations will continue into the fall. Upcoming water quality reconnaissance and algae studies will begin to focus on the lower Eel River, as the fall chinook salmon begin river entry during a period of extremely low flows and very high levels of algae.
ERRP is a broad-based grassroots movement that operates under the fiscal umbrella of the Trees Foundation. Funding for this study came from the Rose Foundation and private donations. Citizens can contact ERRP to become involved or to share information on the Eel River by calling 707- 223-7200.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF EEL RIVER RECOVERY PROJECT
The South Fork of the Eel at Dyerville shows how the algae has increased with the hot weather.