Restoration Programs Advance
Central Valley Project Improvement Act
The Central Valley Project Improvement Act of 1992 amended previous authorizations of the Central Valley Project to include fish and wildlife protection, restoration, and mitigation as project purposes having equal priority with irrigation and domestic uses; and fish and wildlife enhancement as a project purpose equal to power generation.
From 1993 through 2012, Reclamation and its partners have completed several large projects, including the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District fish screen, the Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District fish screen, the Shasta Lake Temperature Control Device, the Contra Costa Canal pumping plant and the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Region implementation of the CVPIA is currently comprised of more than 20 programs and projects that fall into broad categories, including fisheries, wildlife refuges and habitat restoration.
The fisheries goal is to double the natural production of anadromous fish on a sustainable basis.
One of the major projects advancing that goal, the Red Bluff Fish Passage Improvement Project, was completed in 2012. Two other major, ongoing projects are the San Joaquin River Restoration Program and the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project.
Reacting to a robust salmon run during the year in Northern California, the Region released additional water from Trinity Reservoir in August and September to supplement flows in the Lower Klamath River to help protect a large run of adult Chinook salmon.
In the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the Region closed the Cross Channel gates near Walnut Grove, Calif., for 10 days in early October 2011 to assist migrating fall-run Chinook salmon. In 2012, the Region released final environmental documents to repeat the closure during the next four years in order to evaluate the effect on the migrating salmon.
In mid-October near Sacramento, the Region joined in a dedication ceremony for the American Basin Fish Screen and Habitat Improvement Project, Phase 1, Sankey Diversion and Canal. A screened diversion for the Natomas Central Mutual Water Co. replaced two existing, unscreened diversions on a canal off the Sacramento River.
Throughout the central and northern portions of California, part of the fisheries program centers on placement of gravel in rivers to restore and build spawning habitat. During 2012, the Region’s placed thousands of tons of gravel in the American, Sacramento, Merced, Trinity and Stanislaus rivers.
The Region’s other accomplishments during FY2012 in the Sacramento River Basin include:
- Removing a road crossing on Antelope Creek in the Tehama Wildlife Area, improving fish passage to more than six miles of spawning and holding habitat.
- Completing the environmental compliance to construct a boulder weir fishway at an agricultural diversion dam on Cow Creek for a project to open 10 miles of historic fish habitat.
- Planting trees on 1.25 acres on Hammon Bar in the Yuba River. The planting area is intended to flood periodically, providing juvenile salmonids with improved rearing habitat.
- Finishing construction of the Bella Vista Fish Screen on the Sacramento River near Redding.
The Region’s other accomplishments during FY2012 in the San Joaquin River River Basin included:
- Beginning outreach, planning and designs for the Merced River floodplain and channel restoration project at Snelling. The project will include improvements to benefit operations and maintenance to an existing diversion.
- Advancing construction activities on the Merced River Ranch Floodplain Enhancement Project. Construction included channel contouring and spawning gravel placement to restore the floodplain and channel. The overall project involves restoration of up to six acres of riparian floodplain and more than a mile of spawning habitat.
- Completing two habitat restoration projects on the Stanislaus River: the Lancaster Road Floodplain and Side-channel Restoration Project (640 feet of riparian side channel habitat); and the Honolulu Bar Floodplain Restoration Project (2.47 acres of riparian floodplain, 0.7 acres of new floodplain, 8,100 cubic yards of spawning gravel, and 485 feet of side-channel habitat).
- Beginning construction of the Yuba City Fish Screen on the Feather River.
The CVPIA goals are to provide certain amounts of two classifications of water to 19 federal, state and private wildlife refuges. The Region was able to achieve the following deliveries through the Refuge Water Conveyance Component of the program during FY2012:
- An estimated 402,454 acre-feet of Level 2 water. The goal is to supply 422,251 acre-feet of Level 2 water to the refuges annually.
- An estimated 55,515 acre-feet of Incremental Level 4 water. The goal is to provide 133,264 acre-feet of Incremental Level 4 water.
The CVPIA requires the Region to acquire water supplies, known as Incremental Level 4, to meet optimal waterfowl habitat management needs at various wildlife areas in the Central Valley. Incremental Level 4 is defined as the difference between historical annual average water deliveries (Level 2) and water supplies needed to achieve optimal waterfowl habitat management (Level 4).
The amount of water the Region can deliver to wildlife refuges depends on several factors, including the availability of water and ability of Reclamation to deliver water to certain refuges. During 2012, Reclamation funded installation of groundwater wells at refuge locations in order to improve the ability to deliver more reliable water supplies.
Other Resource Programs
Other CVPIA resource programs’ goals are to protect and restore terrestrial habitat and the species that depend on them.
In 2012, the Land Retirement Program retired about 300 acres of land from irrigated agricultural production and converted it to native upland habitat at the Atwell Island Land Retirement Demonstration Project site. About 40 acres were removed from irrigation and 260 acres were planted with upland species. Six vernal pool depressions were created, as well.
The Habitat Restoration Program contributed to the protection of 2,333 acres of land through fee title acquisitions of 520 acres of alkali scrub, grassland, and riparian woodland habitats in Fresno County; 1,615 acres of alkali scrub and grassland habitats in Kern and San Luis Obispo counties; and 198 acres of grassland habitat in Tulare County.
In May 2012, Reclamation and other federal, state and private partners celebrated acquisition of 1,603 acres for the Dos Rios Ranch habitat restoration project. Dos Rios Ranch is located at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers in Stanislaus County. The Habitat Restoration Program and the Central Valley Project Conservation Program have contributed funds to acquisition of Dos Rios Ranch.
Dos Rios Ranch
Dos Rio Ranch, acquired in 2012 by a partnership that includes Reclamation, has become the largest land conservation project along the San Joaquin River in more than 15 years.
The 1,603-acre former ranch is located on a floodplain at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers in Stanislaus County in Central California. Restoration of the property has the potential to contribute meaningfully to the recovery of wildlife such as the endangered riparian brush rabbit.
Regional Director Don Glaser spoke at a celebration ceremony in May, in part praising partnerships such as the one that is making restoration of the Dos Rios Ranch a reality. The CVPIA Habitat Restoration Program and the CVP Conservation Program contributed funds for Dos Rios Ranch as part of overall San Joaquin River conservation efforts.
Left: Mid-Pacific Regional Director Don Glaser addresses audience at Dos Rio Ranch ceremony.
Right: A partnership is restoring habitat along the San Joaquin River.
|Restoration work is underway on the Truckee River in the McCarran Ranch Reserve.|
Truckee River Restoration
The Region was recognized in May 2012 by The Nature Conservancy for its contributions to restoration work on the lower Truckee River in the McCarran Ranch Preserve.
The Region provided grant funds through its Desert Terminal Lakes Program for the restoration at McCarran Ranch, which is owned by The Nature Conservancy. The DTL Program has provided grant funding through Reclamation for support of five large scale river restoration projects on the Truckee River including McCarran Ranch. Other contributors include neighboring landowners, state agencies and other federal government agencies.
The 305-acre preserve encompasses more than four miles of the lower Truckee River. The restoration, which began a decade ago, has included construction of a new river bend, creation of riffle sections, removal of non-native vegetation, and planting of native vegetation. Due to the restoration, the populations of fish and wildlife species in the area have increased.
|Machinery that sorts gravel into varying sizes.|
During 2012, the Region placed tens of thousands of tons of gravel in northern and central California rivers to meet CVPIA requirements for restoring and replenishing spawning and rearing habitat for fish.
Science-based gravel augmentation programs have proven to be successful in improving habitat for steelhead trout and Chinook salmon. Large rocks and fine sediment in the rivers have reduced the ability for fish to construct redds (nests) and may have reduced the number of eggs surviving and emerging from the redds as juvenile fish.
Gravel was placed in several rivers, including the American, Sacramento, Merced, Mokelumne and Stanislaus.
One of the largest operations occurred on the lower American River in September 2012. The Region, in partnership with other federal, state and local government agencies, placed 14,000 tons of gravel in the lower American River.
The gravel was piled on the north side of the lower American River, downstream of the Sailor Bar Recreation Area in the Sacramento area, and was processed and deposited a mile downstream of the Hazel Avenue Bridge.
Special machinery was used to sort the gravel into small, medium and large sizes. The different sizes were spread in separate areas to test which gravel the fish prefer for nesting and to examine egg-to-fry survival in the varying areas.
Heavy equipment such as bulldozers pushed as far as midstream to distribute the gravel in the river.
In separate operations, 15,000 tons of gravel was placed at the Sacramento River near Keswick Dam near Sacramento; a total of 10,000 tons in four separate locations in Clear Creek in Northern California; and in Central California, 3,000 tons in the Stanislaus River, 3,580 tons in the lower Mokelumne River, and 8,100 tons in the Stanislaus River.
Heavy equipment pushing gravel into the American River.
Trinity River Restoration
|Trinity River Restoration work includes channel rehabilitation.|
The Region’s Trinity River Restoration Program is a long-term, comprehensive effort to restore fish and wildlife populations in and along the Trinity River, below dams that are part of California’s Central Valley Project.
The restoration program includes flow management, channel rehabilitation, sediment control and watershed restoration. The results are monitored and assessed to incorporate experience into future restoration efforts through adaptive management.
The program differs from many other restoration programs in that it employs a riverine approach intended to create a dynamic river capable of building and maintaining sufficient habitat system-wide. The program’s goals are to complete necessary infrastructure modifications to allow implementation of higher peak releases; to create sufficient suitable habitat through achievement of healthy river attributes; and to predict, measure and evaluate progress toward long-term goals that also influence short-term management actions.
Restoration of the river, below Trinity and Lewiston dams, is an important aspect of meeting requirements of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act for fish and wildlife protection and mitigation as the CVP meets its water supply responsibilities. Since the signing of the Trinity River Restoration Record of Decision in 2000, the restoration program has finished Phase 1 of the channel rehabilitation component of the ROD. To date, the program has completed 28 of the originally proposed 47 rehabilitation sites within the 40-mile restoration zone.
During 2012, the program completed two channel rehabilitation projects, Upper Junction City and Lower Steiner Flat, which together encompassed four of the 47 sites listed for rehabilitation in the ROD.
At the Upper Junction City site near Weaverville, Calif., Reclamation, and its partners in the program, removed encroaching riparian vegetation and rehabilitated a floodplain. Rehabilitation and construction work involved an in-river island, a side-channel, a large wood-and-boulder habitat, and in- and off-channel habitat ponds. Similar rehabilitation work at Lower Steiner Flat near Douglas City, Calif., was performed by the Yurok Tribe.
In 2012, the TRRP also:
- Initiated new variable restoration flows that benefitted three riparian species: cottonwood, and narrowleaf and red willow dispersal.
- Began scientific review of all Phase 1 rehabilitation projects in order to use the findings for the benefit of future projects.
- Conducted five cooperative watershed projects, keeping 30,000 cubic yards of fine sediment from entering the Trinity River. Fine sediment blankets spawning beds and can smother developing fish eggs.
- Carried out monitoring and assessment of factors such as sediment transport; smolt migration, population, and timing; adult spawning escapement, separated by natural and hatchery, sport and tribal harvest; system-wide habitat assessment; and system-wide bird abundance.
Future of Recreation at Berryessa
The Region held public meetings in December 2012 on the future of recreation services at Lake Berryessa, a reservoir in the greater San Francisco Bay area that provides water and flood control to nearby cities.
Regional Director Don Glaser outlined his decision to terminate a concession contract with a company that was to have led construction of new recreational facilities at the lake.
At the meetings, Glaser discussed plans for services during the 2013 season, over the next five years, and in the long-term. The regional director introduced plans to create a forum to provide for public involvement regarding recreation and land use activities at the lake and to promote effective communication, consideration of interests and the resolution of problems.
In mid-December 2012, the regional director was reassigned to a new position -- special assistant to the commissioner of Reclamation -- in the agency’s office in Denver, Colo., but continues to oversee development and implementation of recreation management efforts and the community forum at Lake Berryessa.
Lake Berryessa is managed by Reclamation as part of the Solano Project.
Pleasure Cove Marina, operated by Forever Resorts, continues to offer recreation opportunities for the visiting public, and John C. Frazier III continues to operate the Markley Cove concession area under an interim contract. Reclamation manages several recreation facilities at the lake, including the visitor center and water education center, a boat launch ramp at Capell Cove, a hand-launch ramp at Eticuera Day Use Area, and picnicking, fishing and swimming at Oak Shores and Smittle Creek Day-Use Areas.
|The size of Chinook salmon runs are increasing in the Klamath River.|
Supplemental Flows in Lower Klamath River Protect Salmon
The Region released supplemental flows from Trinity Reservoir into the lower Klamath River in August and September 2012 to help protect a substantial run of adult Chinook salmon.
Fish biologists had estimated that there would be one of the best runs of salmon in recent times. Biologists were concerned about the large size of the run, combined with dry conditions in the upper Klamath Basin and expected low flows in the Klamath River during late summer. Warmer water temperatures cause fish to be more vulnerable to disease.
Reclamation augmented flows from mid-August to the third week in September, a period that encompassed most of the fall Chinook run. The action has been credited with contributing to a successful run, with diseases less prevalent than in previous years.
The fish runs of 2012 created a challenge for the TRRP because increased flows in later summer raised river levels in the Trinity River during the time when in-channel restoration activities are permitted to take place. But workers were able to complete in-channel work despite higher flows.
Truckee River Operating Agreement
In 2012, the California State Water Resources Control Board approved petitions for water rights changes and water appropriation applications for implementation of the Truckee River Operating Agreement.
TROA would modify the operations of Truckee River reservoirs upstream of Reno, Nev., and enhance the flexibility and coordination of those operations while meeting flood control and dam safety requirements. With the implementation of TROA, interstate water allocations would also take effect between California and Nevada in the Lake Tahoe, Truckee River, and Carson River basins.
TROA parties have existing water rights permits and licenses in Independence Lake, Boca, Prosser and Stampede reservoirs. In October 2012, the petitions and applications the state board approved included:
- Addition of common points of diversion among existing water rights in Independence Lake and Stampede and Boca reservoirs.
- Redistribution of storage among those three reservoirs.
- Addition of common points of distribution.
- Expansion and combination of the area for the beneficial use of the water rights.
- Conditions that the water rights changes and appropriations would not become operative until TROA is approved by the Federal Orr Ditch Court.
TROA was signed by the Secretary of the Interior and many other parties in September 2008. Several contingencies are required to be met before TROA can be implemented. Remaining contingencies include modification to the Orr Ditch Decree and resolution of litigation concerning the Environmental Impact Statement, Record of Decision, and Federal Rule. The Orr Ditch Decree (1944) adjudicated all water rights in the Truckee River establishing individual water rights, amounts, place of use, and priority. The Orr Ditch Court is the federal court having jurisdiction over the Orr Ditch Decree.
Left: The American Basin Fish Screen and Habitat Improvement Project, Phase 1, Sankey Diversion and Canal, was completed in 2012. The project provides a screened diversion for the Natomas Central Mutual Water Co. near Sacramento, replacing two existing, unscreened diversions on a canal off the Sacramento River. The Region and its partners joined in an October dedication ceremony. Half of the $36 million project was completed with federal funds. The project advances the CVPIA’s Anadromous Fish Screen Program to develop and implement measures to avoid losses of juvenile fish resulting from unscreened or inadequately screened diversions on the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, their tributaries and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Right: The Region is working with partners to implement an agreement regarding the Truckee River.
February 22, 2013