Introducing Baduwa’t Watershed Council


Formerly the Mad River Alliance

In Humboldt County, the Mad River is a lifeline, heavily utilized by its surrounding communities, both human and animal. The watershed connects wild spaces to neighborhoods. The river is the source of drinking water for approximately 90,000 community members. It is recognized as a climate refuge, provides habitat for a wide array of wildlife, and is critical to the health of the Humboldt ecosystem.

 If you have heard of the Mad River, chances are you have also heard about the Mad River Alliance. Since 2012, we have organized river clean-ups, summer steelhead surveys, invasive plant removals, and a long-term temperature study. We are currently working with the City of Blue Lake to restore a vital tributary to the river, Powers Creek.

Honoring the Traditional Name of the River

For the Wiyot people, it has never been Mad. It has always been Baduwa’t. For thousands of years, the Wiyot people lived in the Baduwa’t Watershed and surrounding area with an abundance of natural wealth. Due to colonization, in less than 200 years, poor land-management practices have negatively impacted the Baduwa’t ecosystem. By changing our name, we pay homage to the beautiful balance that existed between the watershed and the Wiyot people before colonization.

This name change, approved May 2, 2023, by our Board of Directors, reflects and honors the history of the watershed and its original stewards. Baduwa’t, in the Wiyot language, means free-flowing stream. We filed the official paperwork with the Secretary of State and are starting a new chapter as the Baduwa’t Watershed Council (BWC).

A Community-driven Group

The Baduwa’t Watershed Council is a community-driven group working to protect clean local water and the ecological integrity of the Baduwa’t (Mad) River watershed for the benefit of its human and natural communities. We are a registered 501(c)3 organization in Humboldt County, California.

We approach our mission by implementing several different tactics. Restoration is done through funding projects that repair damage in our local watershed ecosystem. Education and outreach provide the community with accessible information about the state of the watershed through events and volunteer opportunities. The monitoring research we sponsor is important and documents the health of the watershed.

The BWC works in cooperation with community, local land managers, and county, state, tribal, and federal agencies to ensure the recovery of this vital river. Every year, BWC volunteers survey more than 50 miles of remote river areas to assess the population of endangered summer steelhead. We initiated the first documented surveys of the Mad River Estuary in over 40 years and implemented the first coordinated temperature study in the basin.

Removing Trash and Invasive Plants from the River

With the help of many volunteers, we have removed more than 1,000 cubic yards of trash from the river, including old cans of oil, refrigerators, computers, baby diapers, and 500+ tires. In addition to our volunteer efforts, we undertake grant-funded restoration work.

Our most recent grant-funded project is on Powers Creek, a tributary to the Baduwa’t. The Powers Creek Project gained momentum this year. Funding is provided by a grant through the California Department of Water Resources. The Baduwa’t Watershed Council (BWC) and the City of Blue Lake partner in the restoration project.

The BWC held two invasive species removal events in Powers Creek in September. Volunteers came from Cal Poly Humboldt, the California Conservation Corps, and the community. With everyone’s cooperation, we removed a huge pile of invasives. We also succeeded in clearing areas that will be used by surveyors to begin new site plans to obtain the required permits for further invasive species removal.

The BWC also led a Youth Group in an invasive removal effort. This time, the focus was primarily on Himalayan blackberries. The youth were not afraid of the brambles and made a big impact. We look forward to doing more work on Powers Creek in the spring.

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