2021 Habitat Restoration Project at Ancil Hoffman

Big Trucks for Baby Fish

In October, the Water Forum completed construction of a salmonid habitat restoration project in the lower American River at Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael, marking the 10th project to protect and strengthen the river and parkway.

In the coming months, teams will finish their work by planting willow cuttings in the rearing alcove and seeding native grass and wildflower species in the alcove and excess material areas.

“By waiting until later in the year, when willows are dormant and conditions are hopefully wetter, the willows will have the greatest chance of success,” said Water Forum Project Manager Erica Bishop, noting that the native grasses and wildflowers were approved for the American River Parkway by the Sacramento County Recreation and Parks Commission. “Vegetation will naturally recover at the site over time, but planting willow stakes and seeding jumpstarts that process, and helps to reduce the potential for non-native or invasive species,” Bishop said.

The milestone caps a four-week construction process during which crews from the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities created new places for salmon to spawn by laying approximately 15,800 cubic yards of clean gravel into the flowing river. They created critical rearing areas by carving a new alcove in the existing gravel bar, parallel to the river, and added woody material where young fish will be able to hide from predators and grow.

Monitoring will begin this winter as part of the Water Forum’s ongoing science program, which uses cutting-edge techniques to further understand how to improve the river’s environment for fish survival.

Since 2008, the Water Forum and its partners have leveraged grant funding and invested more than $8.5 million to create over 35 acres of spawning beds and 1.5 miles of side channels and alcoves. The project is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and supported by local, state and federal partners (see below).

“We are incredibly grateful to our partners for their continued support of these projects,” said Water Forum Executive Director Jessica Law. “This year’s project was especially remarkable for our partnership with the Effie Yeaw Nature Center at Ancil Hoffman Park and outreach to the community surrounding this much-loved area,” said Water Forum Executive Director Jessica Law.

The Water Forum and Nature Center worked together to offer Open Houses and educational tours for the public, and are working to create new interpretive signage along the river and throughout the grounds. During construction, crews also improved a trail for observing salmon along the river.

The Water Forum, a collaborative organization, is dedicated to restoring salmonid spawning gravel beds and improving juvenile fish rearing habitat on the Lower American River, which is home to 43 fish species, including struggling fall-run Chinook salmon and federally threatened Central Valley steelhead, and is a major water supply source for nearly 2 million people.

Previous projects at Sailor Bar and elsewhere have demonstrated measurable results, including surges in native fish nests where there were very few before restoration.

The Ancil Hoffman and Sailor Bar sites will be part of a new and innovative program that uses genetics to directly tie juveniles hatched from restored and non-restored sites to the corresponding spawning female parent. The resulting information from the program, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will inform future site designs, adaptive management, and will provide guidance for flow management actions within the Lower American River.

Learn more about the project:

Open Houses

The Water Forum hosted several open houses in July to share information about the project and answer questions. You can view a recording of the virtual open house here.

Thank you to the following organizations and individuals for supporting this project:

  • Effie Yeaw Nature Center
  • City of Sacramento Department of Utilities
  • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Sacramento County Parks
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency
  • Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, especially Supervisor Rich Desmond
  • cbec ecoengineering
  • Cramer Fish Sciences
  • GEI Consultants
  • California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot