Fish Conditions

The lower American River is the crown jewel in the Sacramento region’s rich legacy of environmental stewardship. Nearly five million people flock to the spectacular river parkway each year to enjoy its unique ecological resources and recreational opportunities.

With 43 species of fish, including endangered steelhead trout and struggling Chinook salmon, the lower American River also provides important habitat for the anadromous fisheries of the Sacramento River Basin. It is also home to a rich diversity of wildlife and waterfowl. These natural attributes have made the lower American River the only urban waterway to be designated a “Wild and Scenic River” by state and federal governments.

Fisheries and In-Stream Habitat Management and Restoration Plan

Water Forum actions to improve fish conditions in the lower American River are guided by the draft Fisheries and In-Stream Habitat Management and Restoration Plan (FISH Plan). First completed in 2001, the plan outlines the most critical management and restoration actions needed to improve fisheries health and habitat for priority fish species in the Lower American River, including fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead.

The 2019 update is designed to provide a progress report, as well as refresh and reprioritize the plan’s original list of 47 short- and long-term actions, to guide the Water Forum’s habitat restoration goals and activities for the next decade. The update was informed by interviews with 17 stakeholders from government agencies and non-profit organizations to identify priorities, challenges and key themes to guide the update conducted by an impartial non-profit group.

Overall, the draft FISH Plan conveys that the region is on the right track and identifies progress on many priority issues and actions—some of which are ongoing while others have shifted in priority or concluded. But there are many more opportunities and needs to address.

Escapement Estimates

Escapement estimates for Chinook salmon are compiled annually by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Branch Annadromous Assesment Unit. The following graphs summarize escapement estimate data for the lower American River.