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Release Date: 12/22/1999
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA, (415)744-2201

     Noyo, Van Duzen, South Fork of Eel slated for improvements

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized comprehensive water quality improvement plans for the South Fork of the Eel, the Noyo and the Van Duzen rivers last week in an effort to restore salmon and steelhead habitat.

     The plans, known as a total maximum daily loads, or "TMDLs," identify the amounts of improvements in sediment and stream temperatures that are needed to address the decline of the rivers' native salmonoid populations.  The North Coast Region of the California Water Quality Control Board will now begin working on plans to implement the TMDLs, which meet legal requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.  TMDLs are implemented through regulatory pollution control programs and voluntary efforts of watershed stakeholders and landowners.

     "These plans serve as a crucial step in helping to revive flagging salmon and steelhead runs in these once-thriving watersheds," said EPA Regional Administrator Felicia Marcus.  "We look forward to working with landowners, business, fisher people, state and local officials and the environmental community to lessen the impact activities -- such as logging, agriculture and road building -- have on these critical habitats while maintaining a healthy economy.  These rivers deserve our best efforts."

South Fork of Eel River:

The EPA is setting limits to lower water temperature the river by providing more shade trees.

Current sediment loading in the river is estimated at twice the natural rate.  To alleviate the the impact on the river, the EPA recommends reducing the amount of human erosion to one part for every four parts nature contributes.

Noyo River:

Reduce the amount of sedimentation entering the river to pre-1958 levels, when the river had an abundant coho salmon run.  This could be accomplished by reducing runoff from roads in the watershed and lessening erosion caused by logging.

Van Duzen River:

Continuing with Pacific Lumber Companies' habitat conservation plan in the lower basin.

Better application of timber harvest plans throughout the basin.

Sediment assessment and reduction strategies contained with ranch plans, primarily on
the middle basin rangeland.                      

Aquatic conservation strategy of the northwest forest plan for federal land, primarily managed by the U.S. Forest Service in the upper basin.

The EPA held public comment periods -- accompanied by public meetings and hearings -- for all three rivers in the fall. EPA and regional board staff are now working on completing TMDLs for the Navarro and Ten Mile rivers next year, and the Trinity for 2001.