Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery, CA
Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery, CA

Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery, CA

Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery, CA 2022

Submerged in the lush redwood forests of Humboldt County, the Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery survives as an early timestamp for both the history of the California Department of Fish and Game and its evolution through environmentalism.

PROJECT PARTNER:  Redwood National Park

SESSION DATES: September 11-16 and October 2-7

PROJECT SUPERVISOR: Jason Benson and Matt Entwistle

CREW LEADER: Remy Buxton

Project Site Description & History

The Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery near Orick was one of the first local hatcheries developed in California to improve sport and commercial fishing. Located on land historically and currently stewarded by the Yurok Tribe, it was constructed in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) on the 62-acre site of a previous hatchery. The WPA was formed as part of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, during the Great Depression. The program ultimately provided work to more than 8.5 million skilled and unskilled Americans in poverty. In the eight years of the program’s existence, WPA members completed 1.4 million public projects. At Prairie Creek, WPA members constructed hatchery ponds, five water tanks, a pipeline, superintendent’s house, assistant’s house, sidewalk, garage shop, and shed. The hatchery is notable for its provision of housing for workers, dependence on simple yet effective technology that relied minimally on power, and for being funded primarily through through fishing licenses and related fees. After 56 years in operation, the hatchery closed in 1992. The site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Given that the hatchery closed operations only twenty years ago, many local residents still carry memories of visiting the site during their grade school field trips!

Volunteers on this project will learn how to restore historic framing at the hatchery, and then brighten it up with a fresh coat of paint! Join us this fall in the mystical backdrop of Northern California’s Red Wood Forest!

Location and Logistics


September 11-16 and October 2-7. Please plan to arrive at the campsite no earlier than 5pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session.

LOCATION: Our project is located right off Highway 101 just north of Orick, CA!

·       MAP to CAMPSITE (same as project site)

ACCESS:    Tent camping only Site is RV/trailer accessible

Tents, truck campers, campervans, and a limited amount of RVs/trailers can access this campsite. Hookups are not available and the ground may not be perfectly level. Potable water and portable toilets will be available.  Unfortunately, no dogs are permitted. 

WEATHER:  Anticipate highs in the 70s and lows potentially in the 40s. Weather conditions may be rainy, cloudy, or sunny. Volunteers are responsible for checking weather conditions before their session begins, and packing appropriately.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work gloves, clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Scope of Work


HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers and applying the traditional skills necessary to restore the Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery.

  • Repair deteriorated sections Hatchery Building joists, sill beams, and foundation posts (50%)
  • Repair and paint Hatchery Building exteriors: windows, doors, siding, and trim (20%)
  • Repair and paint House exteriors: porches, windows, doors, siding, and trim (20%)
  • Repair and paint outbuilding exteriors: windows, doors, siding, and trim (10%)

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer! Choose your session and register below:

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • HistoriCorps is committed to keeping our volunteers, staff, and project communities safe.  Read our Covid protocols here (updated August 2022).
  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, work gloves, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places.
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email for help.
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day.
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work.
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you.
  • Hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, gloves are standard personal protection equipment (PPE) required on all projects. Hard hats must be worn at all times on the project site, unless working in a designated safe space. Field staff will train volunteers on correct use of PPE.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.