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 enhanced 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 added large woody material and will 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 benefitted 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 were constructed concurrently, beginning August 1, 2022, with gravel sorting and construction at Lower Sailor Bar followed by work at Nimbus Basin. Construction finished in mid-October 2022 before anadromous Chinook salmon returned in high numbers from the Pacific Ocean to spawn.

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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