Eel River Estuary

The Eel River estuary is a place of tremendous biological diversity. Its mosaic of tidal flats, sloughs, marshes, and seasonal wetlands supports hundreds of thousands of resident and migratory waterfowl, as well as important habitat for coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout. Western Rivers Conservancy's efforts in the Eel River estuary restored 440 acres of tidal wetlands. Photo by Kenneth and Gabrielle Adelman.

With its extensive free-flowing length, wilderness reaches and its relatively intact estuary, the Eel River nourishes a wide spectrum of Northern California ecosystems, from pine and redwood forests to oak savannah to tidal flats. Photo by Ali Rivera.

Although the Eel River's native fish runs are a fraction of their historic abundance, the river is still a crucial stream for wild salmon and steelhead. One third of California’s summer steelhead runs are supported by the Eel, along with important runs of Chinook and coho. WRC's efforts at the estuary have conserved vital habitat for these imperiled fish. Today, the river remains a top fishing destination. Photo by Michael Carl.

The Eel River is California’s third largest river and boasts more Wild and Scenic miles than any other river system in the West – 398 miles along the mainstem Eel and its major tributaries. WRC conserved 440 acres within the Eel River estuary near the start of the Eel’s Wild and Scenic River corridor. Photo by Daniel Dyer.

The Eel River owes its name to the eel-like appearance of Pacific lamprey, which thrive in the river and are an important food source for Native Americans. But they aren't eels at all. Pacific lamprey are anadromous, parasitic fish with boneless bodies, open gill holes and a jawless, sucking disc-shaped mouth. They’re more related to sharks than eels. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.