About the Project

Project History

The Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project (Restoration Project) has a long history that includes research by various organizations and collaboration among many resource agencies and public interest groups. View a timeline of important Restoration Project milestones (PDF - 62 KB). For current schedule see Project Status.

non interactive photo of North Fork Battle CreekIn early 1999, a cooperative effort among the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) led to the signing of an Agreement in Principle to pursue a restoration project for Battle Creek. In mid-1999, the parties signed a detailed, formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (PDF - 736 KB) in conformance with the Agreement in Principle, allowing the release of $28 million in California Bay-Delta Authority (CBDA) funding for the agencies' responsibilities in the partnership. non interactive photo of North Fork Battle Creek below

The MOU called for contributions from PG&E in the form of forgone energygeneration, pursuit of an amendment to the Hydroelectric Project's FERC license, transfers of certain water rights to DFG, and a variety of other requirements. Flow determinations for the Restoration Project used in the MOU were initially developed by the Battle Creek Working Group biological technical team. The MOU also provided for the partial funding of adaptive management, which included development of an Adaptive Management Plan (PDF - 2.18 MB), through a separate third-party funding agreement for an additional $3 million. The restoration activities discussed in the MOU are the Proposed Action for the Restoration Project, which is evaluated along with other action alternatives in the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Since the signing of the MOU in 1999, costs for the Restoration Project have increased due primarily to:

  1. Provisions with the 1999 MOU and the conservative design philosophies established pursuant to the provisions of the MOU;
  2. A more detailed understanding of site conditions;
  3. Development of environmental documentation and project designs; and
  4. CBDA independent technical review findings and recommendations.

The Restoration Project is being accomplished through the modification of Hydroelectric Project facilities and operations, including instream flow releases.

Project Purpose and Need and Project Objectives

Purpose and Need

The purpose of the Restoration Project is to restore approximately 42 miles of habitat in Battle Creek and an additional 6 miles of habitat in its tributaries while minimizing the loss of clean and renewable energy produced by the Hydroelectric Project.

The Restoration Project would be accomplished through the modification of Hydroelectric Project facilities and operations, including instream flow releases. Habitat restoration would enable safe passage for naturally produced salmonids and would facilitate their population growth and recovery in the Sacramento River and its tributaries. These salmonids include Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, state- and federally listed as threatened; Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, state- and federally listed as endangered; and Central Valley steelhead, federally listed as threatened.

non interactive photo of South Fork Battle Creek belowWithin the past century, anadromous salmonid fish species in the Sacramento River system have declined because of a number of factors, including the loss and degradation of spawning habitat as a result of changes in hydrologic regimes caused by water management for flood control, irrigation, and hydropower production. In order to preserve and enhance current salmonid populations within the Sacramento River system, habitat restoration efforts are needed. An opportunity to restore uniquely valuable habitat exists in Battle Creek, a tributary to the Sacramento River.

The restoration of a drought-resistant, spring-fed system like Battle Creek is especially important to species such as winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead, which are dependent on cool water stream habitats. Winter-run Chinook salmon are dependent upon habitats like Battle Creek that have stream reaches that are kept cool year-round by natural springs. Historically, winter-run Chinook salmon populations occurred in Battle Creek, but at present, the only significant population of winter-run Chinook salmon occurs in the mainstem of the Sacramento River below Shasta Dam (Yoshiyama et al. 1998). This section is kept cool by releases from Shasta Lake, the reservoir above Shasta Dam. However, periods of extended drought could exhaust the reservoir's coldwater reserve, leaving the fish susceptible to reproductive failure. Because it is inevitable that serious drought conditions will affect Shasta Lake, it is necessary to have drought-resistant refugia available in the upper Sacramento River system for populations like winter-run and spring-run Chinook salmon that are sensitive to drought conditions.

Project Objectives

The primary objective of the Restoration Project is to restore the ecological processes that would allow the recovery of steelhead and Chinook salmon populations in Battle Creek while minimizing the loss of clean and renewable hydroelectric power through modifications to the Hydroelectric Project. Specific project objectives were developed to expand on the purposes of the Restoration Project and to help develop project alternatives for analysis in the Final EIS/EIR. These objectives include:

  • non interactive photo of Lower Ripley Creek FeederRestoring self-sustaining populations of Chinook salmon and steelhead by restoring their habitat in the Battle Creekwatershed and access to it through a voluntary partnership with state and federal agencies, a third party donor(s), and PG&E;
  • Establishing instream flow releases that restore self-sustaining populations of Chinook salmon and steelhead;
  • Removing selected dams at key locations in the watershed where the hydroelectric values were marginal as a result of increased instream flow;
  • Dedicating water diversion rights for instream purposes at dam removal sites;
  • Constructing tailrace connectors and installing failsafe fish screens and fish ladders to increase certainty about restoration components;
  • Restoring stream function by structural improvements in the transbasin diversion to provide a stable habitat and guard against false attraction of anadromous fish away from their migratory destinations;
  • Avoiding Restoration Project impacts on species of wildlife and native plants and their habitats to the extent practicable, minimizing impacts that are unavoidable, and mitigating or compensating for impacts;
  • Minimizing loss of clean and renewable energy produced by the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project;
  • Implementing restoration activities in a timely manner;
  • Developing and implementing a long-term adaptive management plan with dedicated funding sources to ensure the continued success of restoration efforts; and
  • Avoiding impacts on other established water users/third parties.


Yoshiyama, R.M., F. Fisher, and P. Moyle. 1998. Historic abundance and decline of Chinook salmon in the Central Valley region of California. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 18:487-520.

Project Description

non interactive photo of Wildcat Diversion DamThe Restoration Project area (PDF - 2.19 MB) consists of the portion of the Hydroelectric Project below the natural fish barriers onNorthFork and South Fork Battle Creek, and above the confluence of the Coleman Powerhouse tailrace channel and the mainstem of Battle Creek. The upper project limit on North Fork Battle Creek is the absolute natural fish barrier above North Battle Creek Feeder Diversion Dam, 14 miles upstream of the confluence. The upper project limit on South Fork Battle Creek is the natural fish barrier above South Diversion Dam.

The Restoration Project includes the following modifications to the Hydroelectric Project to achieve the restoration of ecological processes important to anadromous fish:

  • Modification of Hydroelectric Project facilities, such as fish ladders, fish screens and bypass facilities, diversion dams, and canals and powerhouse discharge facilities;
  • Adjustments to Hydroelectric Project operations, including allowing cold spring water to reach natural stream channels, decreasing the amount of water diverted from streams, and decreasing the rate at which water is withdrawn from the stream and returned to the canals and powerhouses following outages; and
  • Changes in the approach used to manage the Hydroelectric Project to balance hydroelectric energy production with habitat needs, using ecosystem-based management that protects and enhances fish and wildlife resources and other environmental values using adaptive management (PDF - 2.18 MB), reliable facilities, and water rights transfers, among other strategies.

For more information, see Chapter 3 of the Final EIS/EIR.

Special-Status Fish Species

Special-status fish species present in the Sacramento River and its tributaries include Chinook salmon and steelhead and are listed below. These species receive additional protection from the California Endangered Species Act and federal Endangered Species Act based on scientific findings for their particular Evolutionarily Significant Units (ESUs).

Special-Status Fish Species Present in the Sacramento River
Species Evoluntionary Significant Unit (ESU) State Listing Critical Habitat Designations Federal Listing
Chinook salmon Sacramento River winter-run Endangered Yes Endangered
Chinook salmon Central Valley spring-run Threatened Under development Threatened
Chinook salmon Central Valley fall-/late fall-run None Not applicable Candidate/not warranted
Steelhead Central Valley None Under development Threatened

For more information on Chinook Salmon and steelhead, visit the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) Web site for marine and anadromous fish.

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Last Updated: 11/4/20