California state officials announce new plans for salmon habitat restoration

a rendering of a planned fishway along the Yuba River
A rendering of the planned fishway along the Yuba River.
(Via Office of the California Governor)

After this year’s commercial and recreational salmon season was shut down, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced plans to build a fishway that will enable salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and lamprey to get around the Daguerre Point Dam on the Yuba River.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) have announced an agreement to reopen the Yuba River to salmon and sturgeon for the first time in over a century, as part of ongoing watershed recovery efforts in the state. At a news conference last week, Newsom joined state, local and federal officials to announce plans to reopen miles of habitat to multiple native fish species, including Chinook salmon. Recovery plans include building a new fishway that will enable salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and lamprey to get around the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Daguerre Point Dam to reach a healthy spawning habitat. Other efforts include launching a comprehensive reintroduction program aimed at helping restore Chinook salmon to the North Yuba River area.

“California is taking action to restore vital habits and return fish to their historic home, turning the page on outdated water infrastructure that has blocked passage for these fish for over a century,” Newsom said in a release touting the $60 million plan. “Together with historic investments, we’re restoring crucial waterways across our state and laying the groundwork for a salmon resurgence that’s not only good for fish, but a lifeline for the communities and Native peoples who rely on a healthy fish population.”

The Yuba River was formerly a Chinook salmon stronghold, according to CDFW, but two federal dams built to control the impacts of Gold Rush-era mining have prevented native fish species such as salmon and green sturgeon from reaching spawning grounds in the Yuba River watershed.

The agreement comes after California’s salmon commercial and recreational fishing season was shut down for 2023, citing projections of record-low stocks and the need to ensure maintenance of a healthy salmon season.

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