The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation maintains a government to government relationship with many state and federal agencies. One of those agencies is the CA Department of Transportation (Caltrans). There are many moving parts to Caltrans projects which include: Planning, Biological/Natural Resources, TERO and Cultural Resources. One project currently underway in our ancestral territory, and directly below our K’vsh-chu Administration Office on Rowdy Creek Rd., is the construction of the new Dominie Creek Bridge. This new bridge is replacing an old dilapidated box culvert as mitigation for the Dr. Fine Bridge Replacement Project.
The working relationship the Tribe has built with Caltrans has allowed for the opportunity to incorporate Tolowa design elements into the new bridge structure. The Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Waa-tr’vslh-’a~ (Culture) Committee worked closely with the Caltrans Cultural Resource and Landscape Architect staff to include a design of lhuk (salmon) and friendship basketry pattern on each end of the bridge. (See photo simulation of the design to the right.)
This design is inspired by the fact that tr’ee-ghii~-li~ (creeks), such as Dominie, are critical for salmon and trout spawning. Along with Dominie Creek, Rowdy Creek has been recognized by NOAA Fisheries as a tributary of particular importance to rebuild the Coho Salmon population in the Smith River basin. It has also been documented by numerous studies as supporting a variety of special-status species including Chinook Salmon, Steelhead, Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Pacific Lamprey and other aquatic species. Since 1972, access by fish and other aquatic species to thirteen (13) miles of combined habitat on Rowdy and Dominie Creeks has been significantly reduced or completely blocked due to the presence of the in-channel infrastructure at Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery. The purpose of Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation’s Rowdy and Dominie Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project is to remove and replace Hatchery infrastructure in order to restore passage to fish and other aquatic species on Rowdy and Dominie Creeks.
This project in combination with the new Dominie Creek Bridge will be a wonderful restoration effort in Del Norte to improve fish passage to important spawning habitat. To learn more about Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery please visit: rowdycreek.org