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2013 Projects

Wilson Creek Fish Passage Project

Wilson Creek Fish Passage Project

Location: Wilson Creek, tributary to Hayfork Creek, tributary to South Fork Trinity River in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.


Purpose: The site had a seven-foot diameter corrugated metal pipe (CMP) culvert under a National Forest road that crossed Wilson Creek. The outlet area of the culvert was composed of a concrete-poured block pad several feet in height. A 'steep-pass' type fish ladder had been installed in good faith many years ago but there is no evidence the ladder was ever successful in passing fish.


Work performed: An open-bottom arch composed of natural streambed replaced the existing culvert.

Expected Benefits:

1) The characteristics of the 1.1 miles of newly-accessible fish habitat created upon Project completion is of high quality. The drainage area of Wilson Creek upstream from the Project site is composed primarily of old-growth forest/late successional reserve habitat that will remain as it is into the foreseeable future.

2) The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) considers ESA-listed as Threatened coho salmon Critical Habitat in the Trinity River to be as valuable as and on par with the direct presence of coho salmon. The current draft of the local Coho Salmon Recovery Plan written by NMFS urges fish passage barrier removal projects be implemented in order to create newly accessible Critical Habitat for coho salmon.

3) Upon completion of the Project, 1.1 miles of high-quality fish habitat become available to USFS Sensitive Species-listed Klamath Mountain Province steelhead which may be present to use the accessible reach shortly after Project completion. Similarly, Pacific Lamprey, proposed to become added to the USFS Sensitive Species list within the near future, may also be present shortly after completion and be able to access the 1.1 miles of habitat and in some circumstances, beyond the point upstream at which steelhead can reach.

Construction cost: $993,000

Branciforte Creek Dam Removal

Branciforte Creek Dam Removal

Report on Project

YouTube Video


Location: The dam is located at 4361 Branciforte Drive, Santa Cruz, CA 95061 in Branciforte Creek. The GPS coordinates are 37°02’16.51” N 121°59’07.48” W.

Purpose: Passage barriers for diadromous fish in Santa Cruz County remain one of the largest obstacles to successful recovery of both Steelhead and Coho. A majority of fish passage impediments are anthropogenic and include road-crossing culverts and relic dams. Constructed in 1931, the Branciforte Dam inhibits access to upstream spawning and rearing habitat during low to medium flows and acts as a partial barrier to migration during high flows. The stream bed directly up and downstream has been altered by the dam's presence through the accumulation of sediment. The sediment, extending 250 feet behind the dam, has completely covered the natural substrate mix important for diadromous fish spawning habitat. Removal of the dam will allow complete passage during all flows for juveniles and adult salmonids. The sediment will be transported downstream during future storm events, resulting in an immediate benefit to the project site and long-term benefits to overall substrate diversity downstream. A large woody debris structure has been included in the project designs to provide grade control while the stream channel adjusts post dam removal, to create habitat for juvenile fish species, and to replace the pool that currently exists immediately downstream of the dam and will likely be lost as Branciforte Creek readjusts. Sections of the dam structure that have been keyed into the bank will be left intact to retain bank stability. The size and impact of the Branciforte Dam on Branciforte Creek has discouraged other Branciforte landowners from addressing their in-stream structures. Once the Branciforte Dam is removed these conversations can once again be re-opened and the creek as a whole can be re-assessed for priority projects. Overall, completion of this project will restore fluvial processes and improve salmonid access.


Work performed:

- Removal of the dam from the wetted channel
- Natural transport of backed up sediment into the system
- Bank stability maintained to protect roads
- Installation of a large woody debris structure to provide habitat for aquatic species


Benefits: The project will remove a dam structure from Branciforte Creek that is currently impeding fish migration upstream.


Partners: NOAA, RCDSCC, Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), State Coastal Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), American Rivers

Total project cost: $159,130.

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