Over the past twenty-plus years, the US Bureau of Reclamation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have implemented multiple actions to restore physical habitat for salmon and steelhead in the Central Valley. While these agencies in the Department of Interior have focused much of their efforts on the tailwaters of Reclamation’s federal Central Valley Project dams (Shasta/Keswick, Whiskeytown, Folsom/Nimbus, and New Melones), they have implemented projects on other tributaries as well (e.g., Butte Creek).
The overall mandate and effort stems from the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) of 1992 and its sub-element – the Anadromous Fish Restoration Program (AFRP). The Act established the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund (CVPRF or Restoration Fund), which includes the Trinity River Restoration Plan and the San Joaquin River Restoration Plan. Funding comes from appropriations from the U.S. Congress, collections from water and power contractors, and non-federal cost-share obligations. Funding varies annually – the federal share for 2017 projects is budgeted at $22 million.1 Total funding for Interior’s 2017 efforts in the proposed federal budget is approximately $55 million. Major projects for 2017 include stream channel restorations and fish passage projects throughout the Central Valley.
With the changes that will come with the new federal government administration in 2017, we can expect many changes to the program, including funding. Setting priorities and funding allocation for the coming year will be a complex process. The state and federal goals and objectives may be in conflict. The 2017 and coming years’ programs will help determine the future of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, American shad, and striped bass.
Commercial and sport fishermen will have to be especially vigilant. The whole restoration process has so many components that often are uncoordinated. Resource advocates should seek a stronger role in the process and come together in common purpose. Let’s start by having a strong voice in the future of CVPRF and CVPIA-AFRP.