Chinook Salmon Return to Restored Battle Creek

Large numbers of threatened Chinook salmon have returned to spawn in a newly restored stretch of Battle Creek, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced this week.

Monitoring by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed a four-fold increase in the number of spring-run Chinook salmon redds counted in a stretch recently opened by removal of the Wildcat Diversion Dam on the north fork of Battle Creek. In past years, an average of 7% of redds were upstream of the dam. This year, 33% of reds are upstream of the former dam site.

Removal of the diversion dam near Manton in 2010 improved fish passage upstream into the restored area, where stream conditions are better for nesting and survival. Battle Creek, a tributary to the Sacramento River, is being restored through a cooperative effort to increase threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout populations by restoring approximately 42 miles of habitat in Battle Creek and an additional six miles of habitat in its tributaries, while maintaining renewable energy production at the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project, owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

The restoration is being accomplished primarily through the removal of five diversion dams, placement of screens and ladders on three other diversion dams and an increase in stream flows.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has asked PG&E to modify operations to increase flows in North Fork Battle Creek. PG&E responded by voluntarily diverting less water for hydroelectric generation and has agreed to maintain increased flows throughout the spawning season.

More on the project is available here