The CWPAP interdisciplinary team identified and characterized refugia habitat in the Lower Eel Basin by using expert professional judgment and criteria developed for north coast watersheds. The criteria included measures of watershed and stream ecosystem processes, the presence and status of fishery resources, forestry and other land uses, land ownership, potential risk from sediment delivery, water quality, and other factors that may affect refugia productivity. The team also used results from information processed by the EMDS at the stream reach scale.
The most complete data available in the basin were for tributaries surveyed by CDFG. However, many of these tributaries were still lacking data for some factors considered by the CWPAP team. Salmonid habitat conditions in the Lower Eel Basin are generally better in the Middle and Upper subbasins. The Estuary Subbasin and the lower Salt River Subbasin, below Reas Creek (RM 3.4) provides critical estuarine rearing habitat. Upon completion of the Salt River Restoration Project, critical estuarine rearing habitat will extend upstream to the Ferndale Water Treatment Plant (approximately RM 7). Phase 1 of the project was completed in the fall of 2013 and Phase 2 will commence in the spring of 2014.