Carmel River Issues Converge
New watershed coordinator brings more than a dozen groups together.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
The river that inspired Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson needs help.
“It is a watershed that is on life support and that needs some very large investment,” a half-dozen agencies wrote in a successful proposal for grant funding from the California Department of Conservation.
The state award of nearly $300,000 last spring funded a Carmel River Watershed Coordinator for three years, tapping money from 2006’s Proposition 84.
The new hire, Rami Shihadeh, working for the Resource Conservation District of Monterey County, has re-convened the Carmel River Task Force to coordinate 14 agencies and nonprofits that deal with Carmel River watershed issues.
Among the most pressing: the fates of three Carmel River dams, flood risk in the Carmel River Lagoon, recovery of the imperiled Carmel River steelhead population, erosion and sedimentation.
As the facilitator of the revived task force, Shihadeh, who formerly worked for the RCD as a part-time Salinas Valley project manager, hopes to restore some order to the watershed’s scattered management.
“There are all these disparate projects happening along the Carmel River,” he says. “This is a good way to get everyone together so we can get stuff done.”
Task force member Lorin Letendre, president of the Carmel River Watershed Conservancy, is encouraged by Shihadeh’s hire. “He seems highly energetic and has accomplished a lot of the objectives they set for him in the first six months of his term,” he says. “He’s walked [much of] the Carmel River watershed, and he knows it intimately.”
The task force was first formed in 2006 but dissolved a couple of years later. The revived group held its second quarterly meeting Feb. 1; the next is scheduled for April.