Habitat management actions protect and enhance key ecological, recreational, and aesthetic features of the lower American River and the Parkway.
The Habitat Management Element (HME) of the Water Forum Agreement is intended to counterbalance the impacts of increased American River diversions. The HME addresses flow, temperature, physical habitat, and recreation issues for the lower American River. The Water Forum serves as the local sponsor for projects aimed at preserving the fishery, wildlife, and aesthetic values of the lower American River and creating public recreational spaces for communities.
The Water Forum leverages funding from the city and county of Sacramento, the San Juan Water District, the City of Roseville, City of Folsom, Placer County Water Agency, SMUD, El Dorado County Water Agency, and Golden State Water Company to implement numerous ecosystem management efforts. Several notable efforts are below:
Life-Giving Gravel: For over 7 years, the Water Forum has partnered with the US Bureau of Reclamation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), along with the city and county of Sacramento to implement gravel restoration projects in the lower American River to promote the wild spawning of native steelhead and salmon. This essential project is undertaken yearly because quality spawning and rearing habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead is limited on the lower American River because of Nimbus and Folsom Dams.
In the egg-laying process, females create a “nest” in loose gravel in flowing water, depositing their eggs and then covering them up with more gravel. Gravel is carefully placed in different areas of the river to create a specifically sculpted habitat based on modeling that takes into account factors such as water velocity and depth. The project replenishes a resource that has historically been an important part of the lower American River and its delicate ecosystem.
- Gravel Augmentation Update to the Recreation and Park Commission – May 25, 2016
- Big Trucks for Baby Fish- August 15, 2016
Restoring Creek and Channel Habitat: The Water Forum partnered with the Sacramento County Parks Department, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on the Lower Sunrise Side Channel project to deepen the channel outlet and prevent stranding of fish at low water, thereby enhancing spawning habitat for anadromous species.
The Cordova Creek Naturalization is a partnership between the Sacramento County Parks Department, the California Native Plant Society, SAFCA, City of Rancho Cordova, Soil Born Farms, and the Water Forum to remove a sterile concrete-line storm drain and replace it with a naturalized meandering stream. The new creek will provide both critical habitat and water quality benefits.
Facilitating Informed Planning: The Water Forum continues to convene important citizen working groups that are involved in planning and implementing projects in the American River Parkway. These include the lower American River Task Force and the Fisheries and Instream Habitat (FISH) Working Group. Through these groups, the Water Forum assists with implementation of the River Corridor Management Plan (RCMP) and the accompanying Fisheries and Instream Habitat Plan. The RCMP is a comprehensive planning tool to manage the Parkway, including its fisheries, vegetation, wildlife habitat, flood control, and recreation values.
Removing Invasive Plants: The Water Forum has long funded efforts by the American River Parkway Foundation to remove invasive Red Sesbania, a non-native shrub that is causing problems along California’s waterways.
Soil Born Farms Education Program: The Water Forum has provided assistance to Soil Born’s education program to develop K-12 curriculum about the Parkway ecosystem and the role of water in sustaining our environment and our lives. The Water Forum has also sponsored field trips for schools in disadvantaged communities in the Sacramento area. Soil Born’s programs promote awareness and appreciation of the Sacramento region’s natural and cultural resources, facilitating an understanding of why conservation is important.
Effie Yeaw Nature Center: The Water Forum has been a long standing sponsor of the Effie Yeaw Nature Center, a local environmental education provider. Located along the lower American River, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center provides opportunities for youth, including an aquatic ecosystem program and labs for grade-school children. The Center’s programs teach students about the diversity and richness of the Sacramento Region’s aquatic environment via hands-on lessons.