Increasing Salmon Rearing Habitats in the Upper Sacramento River – A Long-Overdue Management Action

Large amounts of rearing habitats for young salmon were lost in the upper Sacramento Valley Basin when Shasta and Keswick Dams were built. Loss of this rearing habitat (located in smaller, shallower river channels upstream of the dams – like the McCloud River) was considered one of the numerous reasons for the listing of the winter-run Chinook as endangered. Since dam construction, young salmon emerging from main-stem spawning areas downstream of the dams must now contend with the severe rigors of a large, deep river channel. It is generally acknowledged that the quality of rearing habitats in those upstream areas was superior to habitats below the dams (Vogel 2011).

Although significant efforts have been made to increase the quantity and quality of spawning habitats below the dams, minimal progress has occurred on rearing habitats. Massive amounts of spawning gravels have been added to the upper Sacramento River downstream of Keswick Dam, but there are indications that rearing habitats may be an equally important, if not more-important, factor limiting the fish populations. As pointed out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),“ … there would be little value in increasing the quantity of available spawning gravel if the problem that actually limits juvenile production is lack of adequate rearing habitat” (USFWS 1995). Astonishingly, more than two decades later and despite over 1 billion dollars spent on salmon restoration, that potential dilemma remains unresolved.

Present-day rearing habitats are considered very limited and predation during juvenile rearing is believed to be a stressor of very high importance (NMFS 2014). The best habitats, in conventional theory, would be on the channel fringes. Indeed, some such areas with desirable attributes do exist, but are sparse. However, due to the nature of the river reach where most winter-run salmon spawn in deep water, many of the ideal habitat characteristics for rearing are lacking (e.g., appropriate velocities and cover). Subsurface structures like woody debris are severely deficient and would be challenging to restore due to lack of significant recruitment and periodic extremely high-flow events (Shasta Reservoir flood-control releases) that would dislodge this essential feature. In many areas where salmon spawn, the river is wide (e.g., 500 feet) and channel edges are deep (Figure 1). Fry emerging from redds in the main-stem riverbed encounter a paucity of velocity and predator refugia. Underwater observations and sonar camera footage near artificial structures in deep water (e.g., bridge piers) have frequently shown extensive salmon rearing activity, but may suggest the fish are utilizing those areas because insufficient other natural structures on the riverbed are limited or absent (Vogel 2011).

Figure 1. Cross-sectional profile of the upper Sacramento River in an area 500 feet wide and 10 feet deep (scale is approximate).

Figure 1. Cross-sectional profile of the upper Sacramento River in an area 500 feet wide and 10 feet deep (scale is approximate).

Based on many years of observations in the main-stem Sacramento River, large schools of young salmon exhibit a very strong affinity for specific habitats unique in a large, deep river channel. This circumstance is a quandary for salmon fry upon emergence from redds positioned in deep water and long distances from channel edges. The weak-swimming fry are immediately exposed to high near-bed water velocities and minimal refugia to escape from predatory fish such as rainbow trout that are very abundant in areas where winter-run Chinook spawn. The region where young salmon have been observed in deep channel areas include behind tail spills of redds and bridge piers, and in eddies adjacent to vertical bedrock walls. It is particularly evident that large schools of salmon choose areas where eddies exist adjacent to high water velocity shear zones. This provides the fish necessary velocity refugia while simultaneously gaining ready access to drift food organisms, thereby minimizing energy expenditure. Unfortunately, those same areas do not provide refuge from predatory fish.

The following are examples of salmon rearing in the deeper waters of the upper Sacramento River. [It must be noted that an enormous amount of sonar camera footage (not shown here) has been taken along near-shore shallow areas that did not show significant rearing utilization.] After viewing each video, stop or click “cancel” on the YouTube player to allow viewing of subsequent videos in this blog entry. For the sonar camera footage, juvenile Chinook can be discerned by largely maintaining their positions in the current, exhibiting visible swimming movements. Ensonified objects moving with the current are debris drifting downstream (e.g., algae and weed fragments).

  • A school of winter-run Chinook fry rearing on the riverbed adjacent to an Interstate-5 bridge pier and woody debris in the Sacramento River at water depths of 10 feet:
  • School of juvenile Chinook salmon rearing behind a Lake Redding bridge pier in the Sacramento River at water depths approximately 10 feet deep:
  • School of juvenile Chinook salmon rearing in the Sacramento River in very deep water alongside a vertical bedrock wall and behind woody debris and filamentous algae or weeds:
  • School of juvenile Chinook salmon rearing in the Sacramento River behind the remnants of a concrete bridge pier on the riverbed in water depths approximately 12 feet deep with a large fish swimming through the school:

An action identified in the 2014 National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Salmon Recovery Plan is: “Using an adaptive management approach and pilot studies, determine if instream habitat for juvenile salmon is limiting salmonid populations, by placing juvenile rearing-enhancement structures in the Sacramento River.” Evaluation of such measures is also a priority in the USFWS Anadromous Fish Restoration Program (USFWS 2001). Most recently, NMFS (2016) identified “a lack of suitable rearing habitat in the Sacramento River” as an “important threat” to winter-run Chinook. Therefore, a proposal to place rearing habitat structures in some deeper-water areas (approximately > 8 feet) of the main-stem upper Sacramento River was recently developed. Using guidance from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Stream Habitat Restoration Manual (CDFW 2010), woody debris heavily anchored to the riverbed using large, angular boulders has been recommended for this initial step and has received favorable response from the fishery resource agencies. Angular boulders would provide the dual benefits of firmly securing woody debris and providing velocity refugia for young salmon; woody debris would provide predator refugia.

It is important to emphasize that this proposal is a pilot project and not intended to create nearshore, shallow-water habitat attributes similar to those that existed in upstream areas prior to dam construction or were lost in downstream riparian areas afterwards. There are already separate plans to construct small, shallow-water side channels in the main-stem river to address that issue. In contrast, this project is intended to place structures in completely different rearing habitat zones in deeper water where large numbers of young salmon have been observed. Given the ecological realities of the specific and unique environmental conditions in the upper Sacramento River, deep-water rearing habitats could very well be one of the most important environmental variables affecting the survival of main-stem spawning salmon progeny. If the pilot project determines high rearing utilization, the project could easily be expanded.

Sites chosen for rearing habitat placement should be in the vicinity and downstream of known spawning sites that are currently lack good rearing habitats. To provide the most benefit to young salmon, placement of rearing structures is focused on the approximate 12-mile reach of the upper Sacramento River below Keswick Dam. This area is where nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook have been spawning in recent years and also supports the other three Chinook runs as well as the threatened steelhead.

Hopefully, a pilot project will be implemented in early 2017 … stay tuned.

Literature Cited

California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 2010. California Salmonid Stream Habitat Restoration Manual. July 2010.

National Marine Fisheries Service. 2014. Recovery plan for the Evolutionarily Significant Units of Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon and the Distinct Population Segment of California Central Valley steelhead. California Central Valley Area Office. July 2014. 406 p. /domains/california_central_valley/final_recovery_plan_07-11-2014.pdf

NMFS. 2016. Species in the Spotlight. Priority Actions: 2016 – 2020. Sacramento River Winter-Run Chinook Salmon, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. 16 p. _salmon_spotlight_species_5_year_action_plan_final_web.pdf

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1995. Working paper: habitat restoration actions to double natural production of anadromous fish in the Central Valley of California. Volume 1. May 9, 1995. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the direction of the Anadromous Fish Restoration Program Core Group. Stockton, CA.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2001. Final Restoration Plan for the Anadromous Fish Restoration Program. A plan to increase natural production of anadromous fish in the Central Valley of California. Released as a revised draft on May 30, 1997 and adopted as final on January 9, 2001. 106 p. plus appendices.

Vogel, D.A. 2011. Insights into the problems, progress, and potential solutions for Sacramento River basin native anadromous fish restoration. Report prepared for the Northern California Water Association and Sacramento Valley Water Users. Natural Resource Scientists, Inc. April 2011. 154 p.

Hydraulic Injection of Salmon Eggs in River Gravels: A Promising Salmon Restoration Measure

There is an opportunity to alleviate salmon losses during drought years when low river flows and warm water can cause mortality of incubating salmon eggs. The technique was previously used in Alaska that proved to be highly successful in populating under-utilized salmon streams: hydraulic injection of eyed salmon eggs obtained from hatcheries into the natural environment of streams and rivers. It is currently used in some streams in Oregon. Last year, prompted by concerns over anticipated losses of salmon eggs because of warm water, this technique was proposed for the upper Sacramento River and Battle Creek using Coleman Hatchery eggs but was not implemented due to a variety of concerns by the fishery resource agencies. Prominent among those concerns: 1) the technique has never been implemented in California, and 2) it could interfere with the genetic integrity of fall-run salmon in the Central Valley. On this latter concern, as pointed out by Tom Cannon in a prior blog entry, “Studies have shown that [fall-run Chinook] populations across the Valley are homogeneous, with little or no genetic diversity, and consist mainly of hatchery fish and some natural offspring of hatchery fish. There really are no viable “wild” Fall Run Chinook populations left in the Central Valley.1 Additionally, hatcheries such as Coleman Hatchery purposefully breed natural-origin salmon with hatchery-origin salmon to prevent domestication of hatchery stocks (USFWS 2011).

The egg injection concept is as follows. Using facilities at a Central Valley salmon hatchery (e.g., Coleman Hatchery on Battle Creek or Feather River Hatchery), incubate surplus fall-run Chinook eggs in chilled, sterilized water to eyed stage then hydraulically inject the eggs back into the river after water temperatures have naturally cooled to tolerable levels in November or December. The eggs would be injected using an egg planting device invented by Tod Jones and described by his patent and Vogel (2003) (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The hydraulic egg planting device.

Figure 1. The hydraulic egg planting device.

One objective of this approach would be to partially compensate for the anticipated loss of fall-run salmon production during October caused by deleterious water temperatures in drought years. The intent is to repopulate the river with fertilized salmon eggs originating from a hatchery but hatched and reared in the natural riverine environment. Specifically, the intent would be to reseed the river with fertilized salmon eggs to boost future ocean sport and commercial salmon catch, in-river sport catch, and salmon runs returning to spawning grounds. If properly implemented, the survival of salmon eggs implanted in the river can greatly exceed that of naturally-spawned eggs (Tod Jones, pers. comm., September 8, 2014).

In addition, this approach would help retain the diversity in spawning timing from the salmon lost during the October spawn in warm, drought years. Because salmon primarily return as three-year-old fish to spawn, loss of a major portion of the early-spawning component of the fall-run Chinook could propagate forward in time such that many future generations of salmon may not possess the early spawning characteristics. If actions are not taken to preserve the early spawning component of the fall run, the run three years hence would not only be expected to be depressed but also lack many of the October-spawning fish. Loss of the October spawning component of the fall run will unfavorably truncate the usual timing of spawning to those fish spawning in November and December. Retaining the early spawning component of the fall run will increase resilience of future salmon runs approximately every three years thereafter.

Furthermore, this project could increase the survival of juvenile salmon outmigration. Because fall-run salmon eggs laid during October incubate and hatch earlier than eggs laid later in November and December, the earlier fish are anticipated to emigrate sooner. If the drought persists, an earlier outmigration of salmon would be beneficial because riverine and Delta conditions will be inhospitable for salmon in the spring. For example, the present-day management strategy of Coleman Hatchery is to rear and release the normal smolt production in April when riverine and Delta conditions are more favorable as compared to May when the hatchery previously released salmon during the 1980s.

The egg injection technique has great promise for salmon restoration. It could save many salmon during drought years and could be an invaluable technique to rapidly populate new, presently unused areas envisioned for salmon restoration. It has now been 12 years since this project was proposed for implementation in California: Vogel (2003). It would certainly be preferable to doing nothing and could have potentially saved millions of salmon eggs in the fall of 2014 when conditions in some Central Valley rivers were lethally warm. Hopefully, a pilot demonstration of the egg injection project may be implemented in the fall of 2015 in the Feather River thanks to the cooperation of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and, depending on the outcome, a larger-scale project in 2016.


  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2011. Biological assessment of artificial propagation at Coleman National Fish Hatchery and Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery: program description and incidental take of Chinook salmon and steelhead. July 2011. 372 p.
  • Vogel, D.A. 2003. Evaluation of a proposal for hydraulic salmonid egg deposition. Report prepared for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Natural Resource Scientists, Inc. October 2003. 36 p.

Listen to the River

In 1992, the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) was enacted by Congress and resulted in the development of an Anadromous Fish Restoration Program (AFRP) to double the anadromous fish populations in the Central Valley by 2002. Astoundingly, after twenty-three years and more than $1,000,000,000 spent, extensive monitoring studies and the use of alleged “adaptive management”, the salmon runs have not only not doubled in size, but have declined. Most notably, there is no measureable progress toward delisting any of the threatened or endangered anadromous fish, and the fall-run Chinook, the most abundant among the four salmon runs, have now dropped even further from historical levels. Some individuals have even recently suggested that the fall run may warrant listing as an endangered species (Williams 2012) … not exactly a glowing success story for salmon restoration (or an efficient expenditure of money).

Because of this poor track record, an independent peer review (“Listen to the River”) of the CVPIA fisheries program was conducted in 2008 and was highly critical of the government agencies’ implementation of the anadromous fish restoration efforts. For example,

“Yet it is also far from clear that the agencies have done what is possible and necessary to improve freshwater conditions to help these species weather environmental variability, halt their decline and begin rebuilding in a sustainable way. A number of the most serious impediments to survival and recovery are not being effectively addressed, especially in terms of the overall design and operation of the Central Valley Project system.” (Cummins et al. 2008)

In particular, the review criticized the failures of implementing an effective, scientifically valid adaptive management program:

“The absence of a unified program organized around a conceptual framework is one of the reasons the program appears to be a compartmentalized effort that lacks strategic planning and decision-making. As a result the program is unable to address the larger system issues, has a disjointed M&E [monitoring and evaluation] program, exhibits little of the traits expected from effective adaptive management, and is unable to effectively coordinate with related programs in the region. An uncoordinated approach also creates boundaries to the free flow of useful information and program-wide prioritization. We observed that most researchers and technicians seemed unclear how or even whether their local efforts related to or contributed to the overall program.” (Cummins et al. 2008)

The “Listen to the River” report provided numerous recommendations to improve implementation of the CVPIA AFRP. Included among those suggestions was development and utilization of an effective adaptive management program. Surprisingly, it has now been seven years since the review panel’s report and all proposals put forth remain unimplemented by the involved agencies. When a newspaper reporter recently queried Bob Clarke, fisheries program supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), concerning the lack of progress and excessive funds expended in the AFRP, the response was that officials are still working to change the way they prioritize restoration. Clarke said: “It’s a process, unfortunately it’s not a process that allows you to get your results immediately,”1 Seven years? … It should have been done in seven months. A subsequent Redding Record Searchlight Newspaper Editorial2 on the topic responded that “those responsible have offered excuses, not explanations” and maybe what the AFRP needs “are fewer administrators and more field work”. It’s hard to disagree with that opinion. In an astonishing example, an examination of a portion of the annual AFRP budget in 2014 revealed that a total of $2,794,625 was expended on state and federal staff. Most of those funds were spent on so-called “Habitat Restoration Coordinators”.

AFRP Org ChartIt’s difficult to comprehend how one individual could work 52 weeks a year “coordinating” very few, if any, actual restoration projects in such small regions. Furthermore, with redundancy in the AFRP, both USFWS and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have “Habitat Restoration Coordinators” overlapping within the same watersheds. Frankly, some of these efforts could probably be handled by an experienced individual during Saturday afternoons and serve as a “facilitator” to expedite projects, instead of a “coordinator” impeding progress with an added layer of bureaucracy. A suggested alternative approach would be to reorganize the program as shown below. This one example would allow more than $2,000,000 to be reallocated to actual salmon habitat restoration projects every year. Many more examples exist.

Proposed AFRP Org ChartDick Pool, President of Water4Fish and a long-time promoter for salmon restoration, recently summed up the problem: “The CVPIA program needs a major restructuring. For the last ten years, the salmon industry, Congress and many others have advocated the money be spent on ‘On the Ground’ projects in the river and in the Delta which deal with the real problems. So far there has been no change in the program.” After 23 years, it is time to listen to the river, implement a new approach, use true adaptive management, and place the needs of the salmon in front of building larger state and federal bureaucracies.


Arthur, D. 2015. “$1 Billon Later, Salmon are Still in Peril”. Redding Record Searchlight, May 17, 2015.

Redding Record Searchlight Editorial. 2015. “Agencies finally getting it – fish need cold water.” June 5, 2015.

Cummins, K., C. Furey, A. Giorgi, S. Lindley, J. Nestler, and J. Shurts. 2008. Listen to the River: An Independent Review of the CVPIA Fisheries Program. Prepared for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. December 2008. 51 p. plus appendices.

Williams, J.G. 2012. Juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in and around the San Francisco estuary. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science 10(3). October 2012.

  1. “$1 Billon Later, Salmon are Still in Peril”. Article by Damon Arthur, Redding Record Searchlight, May 17, 2015.
  2. June 5, 2015

A New Paradigm for Sacramento River Basin Salmon Habitat Restoration

Nearly everyone supports the concept of restoring salmon and their habitats within the existing geographic range of the Central Valley.  But why is it so difficult to implement relatively low-cost, simple actions that would unquestionably benefit salmon?  The following is a recent example of the problem and its ultimate, surprising solution.

In 1986, a colleague (Dick Painter) with the Department of Fish and Game [now Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW)], through a lot of planning and hard work, created an excellent salmon habitat project in a side channel on the main stem Sacramento River in Redding, California.  Many years later, I named this area “Painter’s Riffle” in recognition of the dedicated biologist.  The modified channel worked well for many years but, inevitably, the habitat quality diminished due to lack of fresh gravel replenishment that would have been historically provided from upstream areas prior to construction of Shasta and Keswick dams.  Nevertheless, the area proved beneficial for 25 years by being hydraulically connected to the main river and provided habitats for the river’s four runs of salmon and steelhead.  This circumstance changed dramatically after the City of Redding widened the Highway 44/299 Bridge spanning the Sacramento River just upstream of Painter’s Riffle.  As is now usual and customary for such in-river projects, DFW required the bridge contractor to lay clean spawning gravels in the riverbed (amounting to 20,000 cubic yards) as a platform to commence work.  The concept being, after the bridge project was complete, high reservoir releases from Shasta Dam would eventually wash those gravels downstream and contribute to new salmon spawning areas.  The strategy worked … somewhat.  The gravel mobilized en masse during March of 2011 when Shasta Reservoir went into flood-control releases and 50,000 cubic feet per second surged into the river below Keswick Dam.  The gravels placed under the highway project flushed downstream, but left 8,000 cubic yards in the channel’s entrance, forever plugging Painter’s Riffle.

In early February 2013, while driving across the new Highway 44/299 Bridge, I looked downstream and could readily see what had happened — Painter’s Riffle had been hydraulically disconnected from the river.  I drove to the site (a City of Redding municipal park) to take some photographs and measurements.   That night, I wrote a Proposal to restore the site to its original ecological function and presented the concept to the City of Redding, obtaining its support.  However, when I met with DFW representatives (including a “Habitat Restoration Coordinator”) to garner the agency’s support, you would have thought I’d wacked a hornet’s nest!  My read on the less-than-enthusiastic response was that any “outsider” involvement and alternative scientific perspectives in their internal plans for salmon restoration were unwelcomed.  This was revealed months after my original Painter’s Riffle proposal when a radically different proposal for the site surfaced and was sanctioned by the fish agencies.  They recommended slicing a 10-foot wide trench through the same side channel and only allowing it to function at flows above 10,000 cfs, instead of my submittal which recommended the channel perform at 3,250 cfs, or the minimum reservoir releases.  In my written response to the agencies’ proposal, I explained that winter-run Chinook salmon redds would become stranded and eggs would perish in the side channel if the fish spawned during normal flows above 10,000 cfs (among many other problems).  After many months of valuable time lost, logical minds prevailed and the agencies’ proposal was quietly removed from consideration.

To gain momentum, the project needed an advocate and was proposed to the Golden Gate Salmon Association’s (GGSA Interview) Task Force which includes the three fish agencies:  DFW, USFWS, & the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  DFW & NMFS representatives were contemplatively silent, but a USFWS representative asserted he had already looked at the site and the gravels appeared to be too large for suitable salmon spawning (paradoxically, in direct conflict with DFW’s in-river project gravel requirements).  The effort was rapidly dying on the vine and, without badly-needed support, GGSA was forced to put the proposal on the back burner.

Trying a different venue, the project was presented to northern California water districts.  Surprisingly, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID), located nearly 100 river miles downstream of Painter’s Riffle said they would champion the cause (aka, do the on-the-ground work).  At this point, with the winds shifting once again in the salmon’s favor, GGSA went to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and requested their staff to take the task on as part of GGSA’s Salmon Plan.  They were successful.  Although it was still 2013, the reality of the extensive regulatory permitting hurdles forced USBR staff to eventually concede that it would be impossible to implement the project until the following year, even though low river flows (Shasta Reservoir releases) due to the severe drought would have provided perfect conditions for construction.  Regrettably, the salmon would have to wait until the fall of 2014.

As anticipated from long-range weather forecasts, the heavy rains never arrived during the winter of 2013-2014, but the meetings, conference calls, and draft environmental documents on the proposed Painter’s Riffle project came on like a deluge.  The scales were now tipping against restoration.  In fact, except for GCID, USBR, and GGSA, it seemed no fish entity would formally support the project.  For example, the USFWS suggested “pre-project monitoring” be conducted at the sealed-off side channel before any gravel was moved, perhaps for many years.  Undefined “concerns” were voiced about effects on threatened and endangered fish, but without remedial recommendations and recognition of the benefits.   With this much resistance, it seemed as though we were proposing to build a new waste-water treatment plant on the river that would spew raw sewage into the middle of prime salmon habitats.  The quagmires of state and federal bureaucracies were sucking the enthusiasm for the restoration effort down into the black hole of oblivion.  Nevertheless, after numerous speed bumps in the process and a seemingly endless series of meetings and conference calls, the log jam broke and key pragmatic agency individuals came on board with the project.

Now, at this late date, with renewed zeal, a Herculean effort was set in motion by USBR and GCID staff who worked overtime to update and finalize the numerous regulatory permits to implement the project in the fall of 2014.  But wait, not so fast!  This simple project almost came to a screeching halt when Endangered Species Act restrictions nearly imposed insurmountable obstacles to conduct the in-river work.  At the 11th hour, several knowledgeable, rational DFW biologists stepped up to the plate and delivered on all fronts with support, cooperation, and assistance resulting in NMFS allowing the work to proceed.

Once NMFS gave its blessing, the field implementation to restore Painter’s Riffle went into overdrive because of advanced planning and the due diligence of highly experienced GCID heavy equipment operators.  Two massive front-end loaders, a D-6 cat bulldozer, and an excavator simultaneously went into close-quarter action.  Their execution was well choreographed with all four earth-moving machines weaving up and down and across Painter’s Riffle.  Each operator knew the movements of others through radio communication, hand signals, or most often, years of experience in skilled operation of the machines.  It was mesmerizing to watch the quick transformation of the river channel:  Video of Equipment in Action

With everything going smoothly and swiftly, Mother Nature had another plan.  One of the largest storms to hit northern California in years (ironically, in a fourth-consecutive drought year) slammed into the area during the two weeks of construction.  With heavy rains and winds pummeling the equipment crew, they relentlessly proceeded nonstop during permitted hours.  And, to be sure, this was no ordinary storm.  The so-called “Atmospheric River” or “Pineapple Express” parked itself on top of Redding for an extended period and localized flooding was reported everywhere.  Caltrans even made an emergency stop at the job site to clear plugged culverts spewing heavy rain runoff in the municipal park.  Although Shasta Reservoir was extremely low due to the three prior years of drought, the downstream re-regulating Keswick Dam suddenly had to increase water releases due to localized flooding concerns in the vicinity of the dam.  River flows at the construction site increased dramatically, jeopardizing the work in progress … but the crew diligently kept on working and completed the project ahead of schedule and below budget.

Ultimately, all involved agencies, groups, and individuals praised the project and the unprecedented collaboration.  The finished product is anticipated to benefit the Sacramento River’s four runs of Chinook salmon and steelhead.  As a result, new salmon restoration projects are planned for implementation this and next year … using more-active stakeholder involvement and “outsiders” perspectives.  Perhaps there is hope for salmon after all:  Video of Completed Project

The completed Painter’s Riffle Project.

The completed Painter’s Riffle Project.