FAIR OAKS—Federal, state and local agencies recently came together to celebrate a new project to protect salmon and steelhead in the lower American River. Over the next several weeks, restoration teams are carving out a new side channel at Sailor Bar in Fair Oaks and placing more than 14,000 cubic yards of gravel in the river to help fish spawn and rear their young.
Gathered along the river’s shoreline, with giant excavators and bulldozers working in the background, representatives from the Water Forum and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation discussed the partnership that is making the project possible.
“The heart of this project is the collaboration among local, state and federal agencies,” said Richard Welsh, Acting Deputy Regional Director for Reclamation’s Interior Region 10 California-Great Basin. Welsh noted the work of a Science Integration Team responsible for planning, managing and monitoring the project and its results. The team includes scientists from Reclamation, the Water Forum, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Other project partners include the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) and Sacramento County Parks, as well as the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities, which is lending their crews and heavy equipment to the work.
“We’re engaged with Reclamation through the Central Valley Project Improvement Act and our other partners in developing a Voluntary Agreement designed to provide flow and non-flow benefits to the Bay-Delta watershed,” said Tom Gohring, executive director of the Water Forum, which represents a diverse group of water providers such as the City of Sacramento, local environmentalist NGOs and local governments focused on safeguarding the lower American River for both drinking water and wildlife.
“This project demonstrates that we can construct habitat in a timely manner,” Gohring said. “Even more, these projects could be expanded through the Voluntary Agreement.”
This is the region’s ninth project restoring fish spawning gravel beds and improving juvenile fish rearing habitat on the lower American River. Since 2008, agencies have invested more than $7 million to create over 30 acres of spawning beds and 1.2 miles of side channels, which are prime rearing zones. In addition to Central Valley Project Improvement Act, much of this funding has come from partner grants.
To learn more about the Sacramento region’s habitat restoration work on the lower American River, visit the Habitat Management Page.