2022 Habitat Projects at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar

Each year, the Water Forum works to create habitat for salmon and steelhead to return to during their annual migration. Fall-run Chinook salmon migrate to the Lower American River as adults to spawn from October through December. In the egg-laying process, females create a “nest” (called a redd) in loose gravel in flowing water, depositing their eggs and then covering them up with more gravel. Once hatched, young salmon move to the river’s shallow, slower moving areas to find protection from predators and grow before swimming back out to the Pacific Ocean.

About the 2022 Habitat Projects

Nimbus Basin–click on the image for a larger view

The habitat projects at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar will enhance crucial habitat for native fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout by collectively laying approximately 41,000 cubic yards of clean gravel into the flowing river and carving side channels into existing gravel bars. Project teams will add large woody material and plant riparian trees and bushes along the side channels. These elements create places for young fish to hide from predators, provide shade, and a place for insects to grow for feeding the fish and many other Parkway species.

Both are locations of previous Water Forum habitat work, implemented approximately 10 years ago, that would benefit from a “tune up” because these areas are heavily utilized by spawning fish every year. Although it has been altered to serve human needs for water supply and flood control, the Lower American is still a living and dynamic river, and continued gravel movement is part of a natural process. Since dams block new gravels from coming into the lower river, and existing river gravels keep moving downstream as the river flows, it’s important to keep replenishing spawning gravels for adult fish and add rearing habitat elements that support young fish, too.

Lower Sailor Bar–click on the image for a larger view

The projects are expected to be constructed concurrently and would begin August 1st with gravel sorting and construction at Lower Sailor Bar. Work at Nimbus Basin will also begin in August, but gravel will be hauled in from Mississippi Bar, within Folsom State Recreation Area. All work is expected to be complete by mid-October, before anadromous Chinook salmon return in high numbers from the Pacific Ocean to spawn. Crews may be on site Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with in-river work occurring only on weekdays (and not on Labor Day).

More Information:

News Coverage:

About The Water Forum: The Water Forum includes a diverse group of water providers, environmentalists, business groups and local governments working to balance water supply needs with protection of the Lower American River.

Thank You Funding Partners! These projects are made possible by grant funding from the California Natural Resources Agency (Proposition 68) and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) and through partnerships with the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SAFCA, Sacramento County Regional Parks


Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the project area?

The project area is the Lower American River, at Nimbus Basin and Lower Sailor Bar.

What are some project benefits?

This will be the Water Forum’s 11th project restoring fish spawning gravel beds and improving juvenile fish rearing habitat on the Lower American River. Previous projects have demonstrated measurable results, including surges in native fish nests in areas where there were very few prior to restoration. You can learn more about the Water Forum’s habitat restoration projects and their results at waterforum.org/habitat2022.

How is the project expected to impact visitors and neighbors?

Potential project impacts to visitors and surrounding neighborhoods during construction may include noise, traffic, parking and impaired access to the river.

  • Noise: Most of the noise is expected to come from machinery that washes and sorts rock before it is placed into the river. The project team contains this noise to the hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Employee traffic: The project team includes about a dozen employees who will travel to and from the project site twice daily (at the beginning and end of the day) via Illinois Ave. (for Lower Sailor Bar) and Gold Country Blvd. (for Nimbus Basin).
  • Employee parking: The project team will park in the equipment staging area (for Lower Sailor Bar) and may park in the Aquatic Center parking nearest the American River Parkway (for Nimbus Basin).
  • Equipment traffic: The project will use heavy equipment to excavate, move, wash and place gravel into the river, as well as create side channels. This equipment includes large bulldozers, excavators, front loaders and trucks. The equipment will move into and out of the project areas at the beginning and end of the projects, as well as during construction when gravel is being hauled.
  • Access to the river: During construction, access to the river from the shore will be blocked to the public within the construction areas. During off-work hours, construction areas and equipment will be secured with fencing and on-site security. The public will have access to the river along the shore in any areas where it is safe.

How is the project expected to impact rafters?

The project team is working to minimize impacts on rafters moving through the Lower Sailor Bar area. Construction will be taking place during weekdays only (and not on Labor Day). Signage will be placed at the Sailor Bar Boat Ramp to alert boaters of the work occurring downstream. When in-river work is occurring, the project team will be on alert and communicating with equipment operators to allow for safe passage through the construction site.