July 3 in Fort Bragg: World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue

by Dan Bacher, June 23, 2010

Want to eat some great food and have a lot of fun while supporting fishery restoration in Mendocino County?

Make sure that you attend the 39th annual World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue,” to be held in South Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg, on Saturday, July 3. The event will be dedicated to restoration efforts in the Big River Watershed this year.

The Salmon Restoration Association (SRA’s) annual fundraiser funds many key educational efforts and water­shed work in the campaign to save flagging king and sil­ver salmon populations, according to SRA President Joe Janisch.

“Between 3,000 and 4,000 people show up every year for the event,” said Janisch. “Surveys have shown that the majority of the crowd comes from the Sacra­mento Valley and Santa Rosa area. People escape July heat and make a weekend of it, providing significant income to the Mendocino Coast economy, creating a festive atmosphere in Fort Bragg and Mendocino.”

A ticket for $25 buys a giant plate of wild-caught salmon, salad, corn on the cob and garlic bread, along with live music and dancing. There will be an eggplant alternative for vegetarians.

There is award-winning microbrew from North Coast Brewing, fair trade coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee and wine from many local vintners. Cowlicks ice cream is served. Fireworks take place after dark following the event.

The SRA provides shuttle service from College of the Redwoods parking lot to South Noyo Harbor from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in South Noyo Harbor.

The always wild and wacky 4th of July parade will be held on Sunday this year.

The income from this year’s barbecue will go towards restoring salmon passage and habitat on Big River. Two years ago, the SRA put $30,000 in as seed money toward a habitat restoration and bridge replacement project on Kass Creek in the Noyo River Watershed.

Once SRA money was dedicated, state, federal and timber company funds were obtained for a project that will cost more than $150,000. That project got started this month.

Now, SRA will dedicate the proceeds of the 2010 barbecue to getting the some of most troublesome problems on the Big River watershed fixed.

“The money will be dedicated this year and then with our partners from the Big River Coalition, we will decide which project are most worthy and then obtain additional matching funds to complete the work,” said SRA President Joe Janisch. “One possible project is a culvert removal on James Creek about a mile past where the creek crosses Highway 20.”

The current culvert is preventing salmon from moving up stream to spawn. There is also a proposed project on the South Fork of Big River with State Park that will improve salmon spawning and rearing habitat.

Where else does the ticket money go? Projects funded by SRA include:

•$6500 for hands on restoration of riparian and forest habitat by Fort Bragg middle school students, working in Otis Johnson Wilderness Park. The effort is directed by Helene Chalfin of Jughandle Creek Farm and Nature Center and includes, SRA, the city and school district as partners.

“The SRA wants every student a chance to get dirty working in the forest, to see how history and biology of the area are intertwined with the health of the ecosystem and the area’s economy,” said Janisch. “We have found many young Fort Braggers have very little experience in the forest and streams. We hope that this program will help create a new generation of forest, river and salmon restorers.”

•$5000 for a Salmon Survey on Anderson Creek, a tributary to the Eel River. The project is being used by the Redwood Forest Foundation in the 50,000 acre Usal Forest in the northern Mendocino County area. Anderson Creek lost its large salmon population to severe erosion caused by legacy logging practices.

• $5000 to help locals understand Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s controversial Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, currently in the process of creating new marine protected areas (MPAs) off the entire Coast of California. The SRA knows that people who fish are among the best friends of salmon restoration.

• $30,000 as part of a $150,000 Noyo Watershed Alliance effort to replace a bridge this summer that is blocking salmon passage from the Noyo River into Kass Creek. The money is being used to replace a failing and undersized long stringer bridge and improvements stream habitat for spawning and the rearing of salmon.

Hundreds of volunteers from the Fort Bragg Lions Club, the Fort Bragg Rotary Club, the Fort Bragg Soroptimist Club, the Fort Bragg Knights of Columbus, Fort Bragg Kiwanis Club along with Harvest Market, Fort Bragg Feed and Pet, North Coast Brewing, Thanksgiving Coffee and many others contribute.

The bulk of the 3000 plus people who attend the World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue each year make a special trip to do so, most often from the North Bay and Sacramento Valley areas. The event was started in 1973 by commercial fishermen, hoping to find ways to restore salmon populations, and has been a fixture in Fort Bragg ever since.

Advance tickets are available at Harvest Market for $20. Contact SRA at: salmonrestoration@gmail.com. To volunteer or for more information ,call SRA President Joe Janisch 707-962-0548.

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