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2019 Projects

Iron Horse Vineyards Dam Removal Project

Iron Horse Vineyards Dam Removal Project

Project Lead:   Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

Location of Project:  38.462605 -122.89656

Description of Project:  

Located in western Sonoma County, Green Valley Creek is considered a vitally important anadromous salmonid stream in the Lower Russian River basin. The watershed has been identified by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as core priority recovery habitat for both threatened steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and endangered Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). The NOAA Coastal Multispecies Plan’s Central California Coast Steelhead volume draft (October 2015) prioritizes the Green Valley Creek steelhead population as one of 28 essential independent populations targeted for attaining a low extinction risk, while the watershed is a focus of both CDFW’s coho recovery program and the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program.

In 2013, the Gold Ridge RCD (GRRCD) and its partners, through funding from the State Coastal Conservancy and CDFW, finalized a management plan for the Green Valley Creek Watershed, focused on its potential to support salmonid populations through the restoration of watershed function. Fish passage for both adult and juveniles has been identified as a major hindrance to salmonid recovery. The access to quality spawning grounds for adults and the ability of juveniles to seek deep, cool water during summer low-flow conditions are key to the survival of the species. The removal of instream barriers in lower Green Valley Creek has been a priority to facilitate adult and juvenile salmonid passage through this critical migration corridor.

This project seeks to completely remove an obsolete flashboard dam at the Iron Horse Vineyards on lower Green Valley Creek, allowing for free passage of both adult and juvenile coho and steelhead through the site, while performing additional assessment work in lower Green Valley to identify and characterize both physical and biotic barriers to fish passage. The Iron Horse dam has been identified in several historical DFW (DFG) stream surveys, and most recently championed for removal by local DFW fisheries biologists. 


While the dam removal has received funding from CDFW's FRGP program, funding from the California Fish Passage Forum (Forum) will support several activities:

  1. Post-implementation monitoring of the site through 2020 beyond the CDFW grant term to ensure functionality of the erosion control measures and large wood structures;

  2. Landowner outreach and assessment work through lower Green Valley Creek to identify additional barriers, and corresponding updates to the PAD;

  3. Investigation of water quality conditions at and below Green Valley Creek's confluence with Atascadero Creek (the upper end of the lower Green Valley reach) where a wetland complex significantly expanded through recent sedimentation has been identified as a significant biotic barrier to outmigrating salmonids.


The low-gradient lower Atascadero is a wetland complex, which fisheries biologists believe serves as critical habitat for salmonids, providing both plentiful food sources and low-velocity off-channel highflow refugia for salmonids migrating through Green Valley Creek. However, relatively recent sediment deposition in lower Atascadero Creek above its confluence with Green Valley has significantly altered conditions in these wetlands, converting them from seasonal riparian/wetland complex to a stagnant

perennial instream pond, which suffers from fatally low dissolved oxygen levels and hydrogen sulfide concentrations from organic matter decay.


Forum funding will be focused on lower Green Valley's primary role as a migration corridor, and will be used to investigate the winter-spring water quality conditions through this reach. The water quality monitoring will include deploying sondes to measure depth, temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH and conductivity at 15 minute intervals in the marsh section of this wetland complex to characterize the water quality and fish passage conditions during adult in-migration and smolt out-migration in the winter and spring. This data will be compared against the existing PIT-tag antennas and out-migrant fish trap in lower Green Valley Creek. GRRCD will deploy one sonde in Atascadero wetlands and another below the sediment accumulation area to characterize water quality conditions on both sides of the potential migration barrier. Additionally, GRRCD will conduct storm series sampling of chemical oxygen demand (COD), biological oxygen demand, and hydrogen sulfide. Finally, GRRCD will continue to collect and evaluate sonde and water quality data from several locations in lower Green Valley Creek to better characterize the wetland's effects on downstream water quality.

Lamprey Passage at Rowdy Creek

Lampry Passage a Rowdy Creek

Project Lead: Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation


Location of Project: 41.928023, -124.143988

Description of Project:

This project will provide passage for Pacific Lamprey over a diversion barrier through the installation of California-style lamprey passage route (tube), provide video monitoring facilities to count and observe lamprey as they move through, and provide a viewing facility and outreach display at the Rowdy Creek tribal fish hatchery’s public visitor’s station. This project will open 11.4 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for Pacific Lamprey. 


M-1 Road Fish Passage Improvement Project

M-1 Road Fish Pass Imp Proj

Project Lead: Trout Unlimited

Location of Project:  39.29675, -123.71789

Description of Project:

This project intends to remove and replace one stream crossing along the California State Parks, Big River Unit, M-1 Road. The crossing, a corrugated metal culvert, is a partial barrier to spawning and rearing salmonids attempting to migrate into No-Name Gulch, a tributary to Big River. The project is located in a NOAA Core Recovery area for Central California Coast (CCC) Coho salmon, and No-Name Gulch is identified by NOAA as a stream that historically provided good habitat. Although the watershed is relatively small, it has ~0.8-acre freshwater marsh near the Big River confluence which may provide important rearing habitat to juvenile salmonids. The successful completion of this project will provide access to 1,100 feet (0.21 miles) of salmonid spawning and rearing habitat in the lower Big River basin. 

This project includes a diverse stakeholder team including state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private consultants and contractors. The cost of the project will be leveraged between the Forum, TU private funds, CSP in-kind cost share, and NOAA Fisheries. 

Seiad Creek Off-Channel Connection Project

Seiad Creek Off-Channel Conn Proj

Project Lead: Mid Klamath Watershed Council


Location of Project: 


Durazo Pond: 41°50'44.44"N, 123°11'24.86"W

Stender Pond: 41°51'12.50"N, 123°10'8.05"W

Alexander Pond: 41°51'15.26"N, 123°10'1.63"W


Description of Project:

This project seeks to ensure connection to three high value off-channel habitats along Seiad Creek. These three off-channel ponds are part of a larger project along Seiad Creek to increase the amount of available off-channel habitat for ESA threatened Coho salmon. Numerous studies of the Klamath Watershed Coho salmon populations point to off-channel rearing habitat , specifically winter habitat, as a limiting factor in Coho populations. The ponds targeted for this project are previously contracted ponds built by the Mid Klamath Watershed Council (MKWC) and the Karuk Tribal Fisheries Program. The Alexander and Stender Ponds were constructed in 2011 and the Durazo Ponds was built in 2014. These three habitats offer a total of 19,000 sqft of vital off-channel rearing habitat. With Seiad Creek containing one of the few stable Coho populations in the the Mid Klamath subbasin, ensuring these important slow water habitats are available is crucial to survival of the population. 

Upper Noyo River - Skunk Train

Upper Noyo - Skunk Train

Project Lead: Trout Unlimited

Location of Project: 39.4183825, 123.4310594


Description of Project:

The objective of this project is to restore access to 1.15 miles of steelhead and salmon habitat upstream of the upper Noyo River railway crossing and to reduce the risk of sediment delivery from fill failure while providing a safe railway. This will be accomplished by replacing the current barrier with a new structure that meets fish passage requirements defined by CDFW and NMFS (based on current design standards), and can convey a 100-yr flood event with associated sediment and large wood.


With the Forum's support, this project is fully funded, but may need additional funds for environmental compliance (NSO or FYLF surveys).


Project partners include WCB, Michael Love & Associates, AECOM, NOAA, and the Skunk Train. Funds could also be applied to the purchase of the pre-fabricated structure.

Lamprey Passage Design for Priority Obstacles in the Sacramento Basin

Lamprey Passage Sac Basin

Project Leads: Western Fishes & US Fish & Wildlife Service

Location of Project: 39.7004 N  121.94237 W - Sacramento Valley below impassable dams

Description of Project 

Obstructed passage is the primary threat to anadromous Pacific Lamprey in California, as determined by the Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative (PLCI) threat assessment and regional implementation plans. Recent projects supported by the California Fish Passage Forum have included: 

  1. Revision of the First Pass Barrier Assessment to include Pacific Lamprey needs

  2. Development of Historical and Current Distribution GIS layer for the CDFW Biogeographic Information and Observation System (BIOS)

  3. Development of and recommendations for Pacific Lamprey - specific fields in the Passage Assessment Database (PAD).

The proposed lamprey passage design project builds on these recent products, strategically applying them as management tools for barrier assessment and optimization of remediation strategies for Pacific Lamprey, using 3rd order and higher streams in the Sacramento Basin (upstream of Delta & below large impassable dams) as a test case. This project will result in five passage project conceptual designs for top priority barriers and will pave the way to help reconnect Pacific Lamprey with their historical habitats in California. 

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