SYRCL has been working alongside its partners for a decade to restore the lower Yuba River by creating spawning and rearing habitat for the threatened Chinook salmon. Our newest project is planned for a stretch of the lower Yuba called Rose Bar. We are inviting the public to join us for a tour of the project area on Friday, December 3rd.
You can learn more about the project below and sign up for the tour here.
The main goals of the project are to increase available spawning habitat for spring and fall run Chinook salmon. This project builds on existing restoration projects by working upstream of sites like Upper Long Bar and Lower Long Bar, which both focus on creating rearing habitat. The juvenile salmon that emerge from the redds at Rose Bar will be able to swim downstream to the rearing habitats that will ideally be restored by the time the project is complete.
Creating spawning habitat is especially important in this location for another reason as well. We are encouraging salmon to lay their eggs here, before they encounter Englebright Dam, because the dam is impassable. Salmon that reach the dam are unlikely to swim back downstream to spawn, so making this an attractive spawning ground to stop at before reaching the dam is imperative.
How will the project change the landscape?
There are three parts to the restoration. The first two changes will not be dramatic to the human eye, but spawning salmon should see a difference. Chinook salmon like to lay their eggs just upstream of riffles because doing so helps ensure the water flowing into the redd is oxygenated. This location has an existing riffle, but the rocks are too big for female salmon to make redds. We will be adding a skim coat, or layer of smaller gravel that the salmon prefer, to create that perfect environment (salmon prefer to make their redds in rocks that range from golf ball to softball size).
The second part of the restoration includes creating a new riffle and making certain the rocks there are also just the right size for redds. Salmon are particular about the rocks where they build redds because these rocks are what help to protect the eggs and prevent them from being washed downstream.
The final part of the restoration project involves transforming the steep walls adjacent to the area into lower angle slopes and planting vegetation that will slow erosion. Because these slopes are where we will be getting our spawning gravel, we want to leave them in a better condition than they are now.
Permitting and planning for Rose Bar will be complete by Spring of 2022. SYRCL will then work with project partners and landowners to develop a strategy for construction.
What’s next after Rose Bar?
Rose Bar is part of a larger project pipeline. Rose Bar planning will wrap up just as construction begins at Lower Long Bar. At the same time, permitting and designing will be in process for Upper Long Bar (you can learn more about these projects here).
SYRCL is always looking for new opportunities for future restoration projects. One of the areas we hope to be able to work on is just downstream of Rose Bar. As our Watershed Science Director, Aaron Zettler-Mann, put it, “restoring a section just downstream of Rose Bar would allow us to have the fish nursery and playpen right next to each other.”
Join us to learn more on December 3 (weather permitting) by signing up here.