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Middle Fork Eel River

Middle Fork Eel River (Ba-ka-wha[1])
Middle Fork Eel River near Round Valley, low water, 2008
Country United States
State California
Regions Trinity County, Mendocino County
Part of Eel River
 - left Black Butte River
Source Near Wrights Ridge
 - location Yolla Bolly Mountains, Trinity County
 - elevation 6,398 ft (1,950 m)
 - coordinates  [1]
Mouth Eel River
 - location Dos Rios, Mendocino County
 - elevation 863 ft (263 m) [1]
 - coordinates  [1]
Length 69.8 mi (112 km), Northeast-southwest
Basin 745 sq mi (1,930 km2) [2]
Discharge for Dos Rios, California
 - average 1,472 cu ft/s (42 m3/s) [3]
 - max 135,000 cu ft/s (3,823 m3/s)
 - min 0.39 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
Map of the Eel River drainage basin, including the Middle Fork Eel River

The Middle Fork Eel River is a major tributary of the Eel River of northwestern California in the United States.[1] It drains a rugged and sparsely populated region of the Yolla Bolly Mountains, part of the California Coast Range, in Trinity and Mendocino Counties. Its watershed comprises roughly 745 square miles (1,930 km2) of land, or 20% of the entire Eel River basin. The river provides groundwater recharge and is used for recreation and for industrial, agricultural and municipal water supply by residents.[4]


  • Course 1
  • History 2
  • Ecology 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Works cited 6


The Middle Fork Eel River flows almost 70 stream miles.[5] It rises in the Dos Rios.[7]


In 1967, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed to build an enormous dam just above the confluence of the Eel River and the Middle Fork Eel River at Dos Rios. The Dos Rios Dam would have been 730 feet (220 m) tall, creating a reservoir that covered 110,000 acres (450 km2) of land (including Round Valley, the Middle Fork Eel River watershed's primary agricultural area and also the location of the town of Covelo, plus the Round Valley Indian Reservation).[8] If built, this dam would have diverted most of the flow of the river into the Central Valley for irrigation purposes.[9] The project was defeated by outcry from local residents and the intervention of then-California governor Ronald Reagan.[10] Reagan remarked, "Enough treaties had already been broken with the Indians".[11]


The river provides wildlife habitat for preservation of rare and endangered species including cold freshwater habitat for fish migration and spawning.[4] In a 1965 California Fish and Wildlife Plan, the Middle Fork Eel River watershed supported an annual run of 23,000 Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in 178 miles of stream habitat. Steelhead surveys were conducted by DFG and USFS from 1966 to 1999. In 1999 they described the Middle Fork summer steelhead run as “The largest remaining wild run of these magnificent fish”. It was noted to be “...probably the only population that has not been touched by a hatchery program, and as such, is most likely the State’s most important summer steelhead population”. Counts from the annual surveys indicated that the Middle Fork summer steelhead population has declined since 1987, to 471 fish were counted in 1999.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Middle Fork Eel River".  
  2. ^ "USGS Gage #11478900 on the Middle Fork Eel River near Dos Rios". National Water Information System.  
  3. ^ "Water-Data Report 2009 for USGS Gage #11473900 on the Middle Fork Eel River near Dos Rios". Water Resources of the United States. U.S. Geological Survey. 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  4. ^ a b State of California Water Quality Control Plan North Coastal Basin 1B July 1975 p.13
  5. ^ a b Steelhead/rainbow trout resources of the Middle Fork Eel River (Report). Retrieved 2010-12-07.
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Beaver Creek
  7. ^ ACME Mapper. USGS Topo Maps for United States (Map). Cartography by United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  8. ^ Wilson, Richard (1969). "The Dos Rios Project". Round Valley Conservation League. Western Section of the Wildlife Society. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  9. ^ Reisner, p. 199-200
  10. ^ "Undoing of the Dos Rios dam". Humboldt Herald. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  11. ^ "Watershed Review". University of Washington Water Center. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 

Works cited

  • Reisner, Marc. Cadillac Desert, revised edition, Penguin USA, (1993), ISBN 0-14-017824-4
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