Carmel River, wrote John Steinbeck, is not a long river, but it is a perfect one. Unfortunately it has been the only natural significant source of water for the area.


The river was dammed to provide water for resort development on the Monterey Peninsula

Fantastic golf courses at Pebble Beach were made green by water extracted from the Carmel River. (Photo by Top China Travel)

The impassable fish ladder at San Clemente dam

Every year since the world famed resorts were built the Carmel River has been troubled by a lack of water


River Steelhead Trout – the incredible sea going native fish that returns 3 to 5 times to spawn in the river. Until recent years there were runs of 20,000 steelhead each year returning to the river to spawn. Recent counts have shown less than 300 steelhead return because there is such a shortage of water. A local non-profit community group, Carmel River Steelhead Association tirelessly wades into the river’s pools to rescue juvenile steelhead. The fish are stranded because there is not enough water in the river. (Photo by SPAWN) 

Church Creek divide, the pristine valley of the Carmel River headwaters

Carmel River Watershed Assessment

Help restore the Carmel River
People of the valley are arising to restore the river. To raise awareness of why we must do this, there will be a grant, old-fashioned festive gathering to celebrate the wondrs of the river valley and the amazing talents it hs attracted.

Carmel Valley is under seige. Water from its river has been over appropriated for a hundred years. That water has spawned development all over the Monterey Peninsula. The Valley’s habitats have been so seriously diminished by the loss of water that the once magnificent native steelhead population is threatened with extinction.

There will be lots of food, wine, singing, dancing, art, learning, mushroom foraging, skits, exhibits and fun. We will celebrate the wineries that respect the watershed and practice sustainable agriculture, and all the folks who are conservation minded.
Join us for the first Carmel River Festival and Feast

PelicanNetwork webpages of nearby destination:
Carmel-by-the-Sea Carmel Valley Pacific Grove Monterey



Although there have been huge challenges caused by water extraction, Carmel Valley winemakers have produced wines which are rapidly ascending in fame. They do this by growing organically and with sustainable agriculture methods, such as dry farming. The wines are extraordinary because of the rare geologic and climatic conditions of the valley.


We are working for a sustainable Carmel Valley and a Whole Watershed

Celebration with a purpose
The Carmel River Fandango will be held in March 2013 to raise awareness of the need for river restoration. It will feature fun and educational activities about the river and habitats of the watershed. Local restaurants and wineries will provide tastings for participants. While celebrating the great efforts of the community volunteer organizations, we will show off the extraordinary culinary talents of Carmel Valley.

The theme evokes pre-dam, pre-golf days when the River ran thick with native fish, and the Valley ranches all gathered for a big party, called a Fandango – such as seen in Marlon Brando’s One Eyed Jacks and the principal scene in John Steinbeck’s To A God Unknown. In early California, the event was three days of eating, drinking, singing, dancing and cavorting around the countryside.

Carmel Valley was a classic example of that Spanish and Mexican era. Fandango, although deriving its name from the Spanish dance, was a uniquely California event.

It was a time when such an event celebrated the bounty of the land. Ours will be a kind of Back to the Land theme – a bring back the fish event to connect river restoration with a sustainable life style.


Help us restore the Carmel River – and have a lot of fun. Volunteer for the Carmel River Fandango.

Our event will feature educational booths, interpretive walks, and displays to demonstrate the benefits of river restoration and an environmentally sustainable life style in the Valley.

There will be skits and readings about the river and its attributes.There will be an art exhibit featuring photography and paintings of the watershed and other aspects of valley life associated with the River; poetry slam featuring local talent; native plant walks; skits by school and theater groups; mushroom foraging, identifying and cooking workshop.

Paola Berthoin’s book, Passion for Place will be featured – with signing and storytelling. Steelhead hats will be made for children. CRSA will demonstrate rescues. CRWC will lead tours to San Clemente Dam. There will be a panel discussion about sustainable agriculture in the Valley, dry farming, and why we make incredible wines in this geology and special viticulture area.

To show off the wondrous culinary talent in the Valley there will be winemaker and Chef dinners and other events Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the event.

On the day of the event, wineries and restaurants of Carmel Valley will provide foods they have prepared for a tasting. Our ticketholders will go from table to table around the hall with a grazing badge and indulge in the incredible tastes of our valley. There will be a kids’ tasting area, too.

Carmel River, oil by Sam Johnston




Los Padres Dam



Carmel Valley back country photo by Monterey Visitors Bureau

Contact me about joining the
Carmel River Festival and Feast
I want to volunteer.

I belong to an organization that may want to be a sponsor.

My group may want to be an exhibitor.

My winery may want to participate

My restaurant may want to participate.

I want to advertise

I am an artist or entertainer and want to be included.

I want to buy tickets –
and/or help sell tickets.

Tickets: $30 adults $12 children $60 families
My Name
My Email
My phone number

For more information call 831 238 1683

Register as a sponsor


Project co-ordinator


Register as a sponsor of the
Carmel River Festival and Feast

We will be:

A Carmel River Steward
For our $1,000 donation

We receive 1/2 page ad, Display Plaque, Festival promotion, Art prize named for us, 10 tickets

A Carmel River Watershed Partner

For our $500 donation

We receive 1/4 page ad, Display plaqe,Festival promotion, 5 tickets

A Carmel River Habitat Reviver

For our $250 donation

We will receive 1/8 page ad, Display certificate, 5 tickets

A steelhead saver

For our $100 donation

Display certificate, Ad listing, 2 tickets

We will donate items for the auction.



My Name
My Email
My phone number

Click here to register with payment

For more information call 831 238 1683

Project co-ordinator

The purpose of PelicanNetwork is to promote environmental sustainability.

River in Ruin by Ray March






Review in Amazon

The thin ribbon of the Carmel River is just thirty-six miles long and no wider in most places than a child can throw a stone. It is the primary water supply for the ever-burgeoning presence of tourists, agriculture, and industry on California’s Monterey Peninsula. It is also one of the top ten endangered rivers in North America. The river’s story, which dramatically unfolds in this book, is an epic tale of exploitation, development, and often unwitting degradation reaching back to the first appearance of Europeans on the pristine peninsula.

River in Ruin is a precise weaving of water history, local and larger, and a natural, social, and environmental narrative of the Carmel River. Ray A. March traces the river’s misuse from 1879 and details how ever more successful promotions of Monterey demanded more and more water, leading to one dam after another. As a result the river was disastrously depleted, cluttered with concrete rubble, and inhospitable to the fish prized by visitors and residents alike.

March’s book is a cautionary tale about squandering precious water resources – about the ultimate cost of a ruined river and the slim but urgent hope of bringing it back to life.

  Carmel River Watershed Assessment

A PelicanNetwork project to
support community stewardship