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What does the Russian River Wild Steelhead Society do?

The Russian River Wild Steelhead Society is an organization dedicated to the preservation, protection and enhancement of wild Russian River Steelhead and the Russian River Watershed. To further its strategic objectives RRWSS activities fall into three categories: education, advocacy and habitat restoration.

To date RRWSS educational efforts have been to support participation by local elementary and high school students in the Steelhead in The Classroom program. More recently RRWSS established its Frank Bertaina grant program for college students who have been actively involved in helping to preserve wild steelhead in the Russian River.

RRWSS advocacy efforts relate to making recommendations to county, state and federal authorities for the improvement of water conditions to protect, conserve and increase the population of indigenous species to the Russian River watershed.

RRWSS also is undertaking projects, in cooperation with state Fish & Game and other agencies, to improve impaired habitat for wild steelhead and other salmonids in the Russian River and its tributaries.

What is Steelhead in the Classroom?

The title “Steelhead in The Classroom” was originated by Trout Unlimited in coordination with the California Department of Fish and Game as an educational project to create awareness among young students of the plight of wild steelhead and the need to take active measures to preserve them.

The Steelhead in the Classroom project provides an incubator, 30 fertilized wild steelhead eggs and supporting curriculum to a participating classroom. Students help oversee hatching and raising of the steelhead from the eggs until they are approximately six weeks old and ready for release to the wild. As part of the process they learn about the steelhead life cycle and how to practice needed stewardship to restore and preserve threatened and endangered species.

What the Russian River Wild Steelhead Society uniquely does is pay for the incubators and fund other aspects of the program, such as transportation. In recognition of that effort, RRWSS received a 2012 grant of $1050 from the Russian River Trust to help pay for more incubators.

Fish&Game’s Classroom Aquarium Education Project operates statewide in partnership with community organizations such as RRWSS. Completion of a training workshop is required to receive eggs. Teacher training workshops are offered yearly.

What is the procedure to apply for a Frank Bertaina Grant?

Fill out a Scholarship Application.

How does RRWSS offer to help restore wild steelhead habitat?

While it is generally conceded that habitat restoration is a way to mitigate the harm done to native Russian River fish populations caused by construction of major dams in the Russian River, RRWSS efforts to participate actively in habitat restoration has had to follow a lengthy permit process with the Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies.

RRWSS is now pursuing projects in partnership with Fish & Game and other agencies to create “small woody debris” enhancements in the tributaries and “large woody debris” enhancements in the main stem of the Russian River to make the River a friendlier place for steelhead and other salmonids. Whenever possible, these efforts will be undertaken in cooperation with grape growers and gravel miners to give preservation of the fisheries a secure place compatible with other uses of the Russian River.

How do I contact RRWSS?

Email a member of the Board.

How do I join RRWSS?

Become a member.

How do I get tickets for the annual gathering?

Get tickets.