Conner Creek Fish Passage Project in Junction City, California, a project supported by the California Fish Passage Forum. Project Manager: 5 Counties Salmonid Conservation Program.

CALIFORNIA

FISH PASSAGE FORUM

PROTECTING AND RESTORING ANADROMOUS FISH HABITAT

NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

California Fish Passage Forum Sees Generational Opportunity to Increase Fish Passage

On November 15, 2021,  President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) which provides a generational opportunity to not only create new infrastructure, but also repair the ecological damage of obsolete structures that have fundamentally changed our nation's rivers. This infrastructure bill is intended to promote transformative, efficient and cost-saving transportation programs while creating natural infrastructure that protects and enhances surface transportation assets while improving ecosystem conditions for functional rivers and estuarine systems. The Act sets aside billions of dollars for federal agencies and tribal nations to upgrade bridges, dams and culverts which have blocked passage of aquatic species for decades. As these structures are improved or removed, migration to historic habitat is restored and native fish populations can rebound. The solutions that have the best chance of success support both wildlife and people, and align with the Forum's mission to protect and revitalize anadromous fish populations by restoring freshwater habitat connectivity in California. 

 

Learn more about how this landmark legislation will bolster efforts to improve fish passage in California, including investments through Forum signatory agencies, in this statement from the Forum's Chair, Sandra Jacobson (CalTrout, Director - South Coast).

Forum Announces FY23 Funding Opportunity

The Forum is pleased to announce the release of its Request for Proposals (RFP) for FY23 project funding available through the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP).  In FY23 the Forum expects to provide a total of roughly $150,000-230,000 to support eligible projects that will help advance the Forum's mission to protect and revitalize anadromous fish populations by restoring freshwater habitat connectivity throughout their historical range. Funds from this RFP are tied to the FY23 federal budget and will likely not be available until Spring 2023. 

 

Proposals must be submitted through the Forum's online proposal by January 23, 2022. ​

Additional information on eligibility, evaluation criteria, and other supporting documents and resources can be found on the Forum's Funding page

Lawrence Creek Named to NFHP's 2021 List of 10 Waters to Watch 

Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project

Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project
Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project

Photos courtesy of Trout Unlimited

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Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project
Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project

Photos courtesy of Trout Unlimited

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Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project
Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project

Photos courtesy of Trout Unlimited

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Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project
Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project

Photos courtesy of Trout Unlimited

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Photos courtesy of Anna Halligan (Trout Unlimited) 

Continuing the Forum's strong tradition of having nominated projects selected to the National Fish Habitat Partnership's (NFHP) annual list of 10 Waters to Watch, on September 25, 2021 the Lawrence Creek Off-Channel Habitat Connectivity Project (Lawrence Creek) was named to NFHP's 2021 list. Since NFHP launched the Waters to Watch initiative in 2012, the Forum has had at least one of its nominated water bodies selected each year. 

 

This project was initiated in 2015 through a collaboration between Trout Unlimited, the Humboldt Redwood Company, NOAA Restoration Center, and Pacific Watershed Associates and resulted in a multi-phased project to restore and enhance hydrologic conditions and historic floodplain habitat on Lawrence Creek, a high priority, core recovery salmon and steelhead stream in the Eel River watershed. Over the years, this project has addressed high-priority SONCC Coho recovery actions by restoring important off-channel ponds and side channels which provide important "winter-refugia" - shelter from high flows during intense winter storm events, and increased habitat diversity that leads to improved food resources for fish.  

Innovative Approach to Permitting

Additionally, this project benefitted from streamlined permitting processes developed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Coho Habitat Enhancement Leading to preservation (HELP) Act; Habitat Restoration Enhancement (HRE) Act), and the California State Water Resources Control Board (Clean Water Act Section 401 General Water Quality Certification for Small Habitat Restoration Projects (SHRP)). specifically for habitat restoration projects. Projects eligible for coverage under these programs are exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) due to the small project size and adherence to environmental protections measures, which combined do not result in significant impacts to environmental or cultural resources. These permits and approvals have a shorter review period (~60 days on average) than traditional permits and can help accelerate the implementation of restoration projects for the recovery of listed salmonids.

The Forum proudly contributed 2021 NFHP project funding to the third phase of this effort. Learn more about this project and the partners that implemented it, as well as the other 2021 Waters to Watch on NFHP's website here. 

NOAA has also released a webstory highlighting the 2021 Waters to Watch projects in coastal habitats featuring Lawrence Creek. 

USFWS Webinar: Putting Fish Passage Barriers on the Map: 

A Comparative Exploration of Approaches to Document Passage Issues in California and Beyond 

 

 

On August 5, 2020, Forum signatory member, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Pacific Southwest Region, held a webinar during which Cassandra Doll, a USFWS Directorate Resource Fellow, presented the findings of a comparative analysis of several fish passage databases from across the United States, including California's Passage Assessment Database (PAD). This analysis was one component of Ms. Doll's 11-week fellowship project, that also included a detailed review of barriers in the Mid Klamath River Basin that could be used to identify approaches to further refine the documentation of barriers to fish migration.

 

Forum Nominates San Juan & Santiago Watersheds to NFHP's 2020 list of 10 Waters to Watch

Trabuco District Dam Removal Project

Walking:Spider Excavator Before
Walking:Spider Excavator Before

Walking/Spider Excavator on San Juan Creek - Before (courtesy of Cleveland National Forest)

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Walking:Spider Excavator After
Walking:Spider Excavator After

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Walking:Spider Excavator Before
Walking:Spider Excavator Before

Walking/Spider Excavator on San Juan Creek - Before (courtesy of Cleveland National Forest)

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Photos courtesy of Julie Donnell (Cleveland National Forest) 

On May 19, 2020 the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) announced its 2020 list of 10 Waters to Watch which includes San Juan and Santiago Watersheds - nominated by the California Fish Passage Forum. This continues the Forum's strong tradition of having nominations selected to this national annual list. Since NFHP launched Waters to Watch in 2012, the Forum has had at least one of its nominated water bodies selected each year. 

 

The San Juan and Santiago Watersheds are home to some of the most important rivers and creeks in Southern California for the recovery of endangered Southern California Steelhead trout. With this in mind, the Forum nominated these critical watersheds to help shine a light on two innovative and collaborative projects that have made great strides to remove small dams and other barriers to fish passage in the region, while simultaneously analyzing the impacts of of these actions. Together these two efforts are helping to improve understanding of how to best restore critical habitat in preparation for two large barrier removals planned downstream. This coast-to-headwaters approach to restoration not only implements the federal recovery plan for endangered Southern steelhead, but provides community benefits that exemplify the power of fish habitat partnerships.

The two projects featured in this nomination include the Trabucco District Dam Removal Project led by the Cleveland National Forest, and the Monitoring Small Dam Removal Effectiveness in Southern California study spearheaded by NOAA Restoration Center in collaboration with US Forest Service, and partially funded by the Forum. Both projects benefited from a lengthy list of partners and collaborators. Learn more about both of these projects and the partners that implemented them, as well as the other 2020 Waters to Watch here.

Forum-funded Juvenile Fish Passage Criteria Assessment Project Helps Inform Update to NMFS Guidelines That Saves Taxpayers and Practitioners Millions of Dollars  

In September 2019, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Southwest Region reissued the Guidelines for Salmonid Passage at Stream Crossings, originally issued September 2001. While there has been extensive research done on the leaping abilities of adult salmonids, there is little information on the leaping abilities of juveniles. This lack of understanding has resulted in inconsistent state and federal guidelines regarding jump heights at juvenile fish passage facilities in California. To better inform, and increase operational and regulatory efficiency at dams and diversions, in 2016 the California Fish Passage Forum (Forum) used NFHP funds to support the Juvenile Fish Passage Criteria Assessment Project. The findings of this project informed some of the updates in the 2019 Addendum of the NMFS Guidelines, which included two adjustments to the design criteria, and recommendations for intended applications for projects in California. These changes have helped streamline federal guidelines regarding jump heights at juvenile fish passage facilities in California, which will save taxpayers and practitioners millions of dollars in the future. 

Recording of Introductory FISHPass Webinar Available 

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On October 24, 2019 at 11am PDT the Forum hosted a webinar to introduce users to the new web-based version of FISHPass.

FISHPass is a decision-support tool designed to help users identify fish passage barriers for remediation in California.  This web-based optimization model uses barrier information from the California Passage Assessment Database (PAD), accounts for spatial layout of the barriers in the network, cumulative barrier passability,  potential upstream habitat, and optionally, estimated cost.

 

Learn more about FISHPass and view the webinar recording here.

Upper Green Valley Creek Selected as one of NFHP's 2019 "10 Waters to Watch"

The California Fish Passage Forum is pleased to announce that the Upper Green Valley Creek Fish Passage Project was selected to the National Fish Habitat Partnership's (NFHP) 2019 list of 10 Waters to Watch. This selection continues the Forum's strong tradition of having projects selected to this annual list. Of the 73 projects selected over the years, eight have been nominated by the Forum. 

 

The Upper Green Valley Creek Fish Passage Project, led by the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (GRRCD), and funded in part by the Forum, restored fish passage and stabilized the grade through a 600-ft stream reach of Upper Green Valley Creek (a tributary to the Russian River), resulting in passage for juvenile and adult coho salmon to an additional 4,810 ft of rearing and spawning habitat. Key partners included GRRCD, Stetson Engineers, Point Blue Conservation Science, and McCullough Construction with funding support from California Department of Fish & Wildlife's Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) and the California Fish Passage Forum. 

Learn more about this, and other projects supported by the Forum here.

UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 - Restored Chan
UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 - Restored Chan

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UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 - Snorkel
UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 - Snorkel

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UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 -Salmon in Wate
UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 -Salmon in Wate

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UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 - Restored Chan
UGVC Photos for W2W 2019 - Restored Chan

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Photos courtesy of Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

 

NOAA Fisheries Releases Results of Fish Passage Program 2018 Review

 

On March 29, 2019 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released the results of the 2018 review of NOAA's fish passage activities. An independent, external review panel evaluated the effectiveness of 10 years of NOAA's fish passage activities to protect and increase access to historic riverine rearing and spawning habitat for migrating fish species. In response, NOAA outlined priority actions to address the panel's key recommendations that will build off of the program's past achievements.

 

Learn more about the results of the review panel and NOAA's response here.

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NEXT FORUM STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING 

Late Fall 2020

(Virtual)

 

 FORUM AT-A-GLANCE

The mission of the California Fish Passage Forum (Forum) is to protect and restore listed anadromous salmonid species, and other aquatic organisms, in California by promoting collaboration among public and private sectors for fish passage improvement projects and programs.

 

The goal of the Forum is to restore connectivity of freshwater habitats throughout the historic range of anadromous fish.

The Forum coordinates among agency programs and private sector activities to target high priority projects and to improve the timeliness and cost-effectiveness of fish passage.

 

The Forum seeks to:

  1. Remediate barriers to effective fish migration.

  2. Facilitate coordination and communication among agencies, agency staff, and other entities that may propose, review, or promulgate fish passage criteria within California.

  3. Coordinate funding mechanisms to remove fish passage barriers. 

  4. Support state and federal permit coordination and efficiencies. 

  5. Facilitate plans to monitor and evaluate fish passage restoration effectiveness to ensure accountability.

  6. Encourage existing state and national policy and actions that support fish passage improvement in California.

  7. Implement education and outreach activities, targeting both the public & fish passage practitioners.

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