Army Corps Starts $3 million Yuba River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study

Photo: Thomas Dunklin
Photo: Thomas Dunklin

The US Army Corps of Engineers announced July 1st that they have started work on the long anticipated “Yuba River ecosystem restoration feasibility study,” which will analyze fish passage options at Daguerre Point and Englebright Dams on the lower Yuba River.

According to the Corp’s press release, “the study will be conducted in a risk-informed framework with the first step being a charette, a collaborative design and planning session to determine the project’s scope. This session will also open a formal public comment period and is expected to take place in Fall of 2015.”

“SYRCL welcomes the opportunity to address the scope of this study, which must include a full technical analysis of both dam removal and design for dam modifications such as lowering the height of Englebright Dam sufficiently to accommodate a fish ladder for wild salmon to use on their way to their native spawning ground in the upper Yuba River – also called ‘notch and ladder,’” said Caleb Dardick, SYRCL’s Executive Director.

SYRCL urges the Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative (YSPI) to not to prematurely rush towards implementation of a “trap and haul” program to transport salmon to and from the North Yuba River in trucks for the next fifty years when there are still so many unanswered questions about alternative ways to restore a self-sustaining wild salmon population in the Yuba River watershed.

“Some assert that it’s not feasible to pass fish into the Upper Yuba watershed above Englebright Dam except by an elaborate system of trapping and hauling fish to and from the North Yuba River,” Gary Reedy, SYRCL’s Senior River Scientist, told the Appeal-Democrat this week. “We’d like to see this feasibility study thoroughly address remaining questions about providing fish passage to habitat upstream of Englebright Dam, as well as removal of Daguerre Point Dam and habitat restoration opportunities for the Lower Yuba River.”

SYRCL sent a memo in May to the YSPI parties that urged them “to pursue a plan to restore Yuba salmon that the watershed community might support, rather than focus on developing a settlement agreement that might bind us in conflict.” The memo listed SYRCL’s requests that the YSPI take four interim actions that would allow for collaborative resolution, and highlighted the feasibility study as opportunity to identify more self-sustaining fish passage options other than “trap and haul”.

Links:

Army Corps July 1 Announcement

Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative (YSPI)

$3M Yuba River study begins, Appeal-Democrat (7/9/15)

SYRCL’s May 12th Memo to YSPI Agencies (5/12/15)

 

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