Battle Creek Restoration Project

Eastside Region

Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project

  • Location: Battle Creek Watershed, Shasta and Tehama Counties
  • Project Sponsors: CALFED, DFG, PG&E, USBR
  • Cost: $100 million
  • Funding: CALFED, CVPIA, PG&E
  • Project Objectives:
    • Enhance salmon and steelhead passage and spawning habitat in Battle Creek

Upper Battle Creek offers a unique opportunity to restore declining populations of salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento River Basin. The cold, spring-fed waters of Battle Creek historically supported some of the Basin’s largest runs of Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead. In the early 1900s diversion dams were constructed in the watershed for hydroelectric power production. These dams and water diversions caused problems for fish by reducing instream flow and blocking access to habitat in large sections of both North Fork and South Fork Battle Creek. Beginning in 1995, plans were developed to restore naturally spawned anadromous fish populations in Battle Creek. In 1999, public and private partners agreed on a plan to remove five hydroelectric diversion dams, place new screens and ladders on three other dams, and increase instream flows in North and South Fork Battle Creek. The project is the largest restoration effort funded by the California Bay Delta Authority and DFG. After a lengthy period of environmental analysis and permit acquisition, construction began in summer 2010.

When complete, the project will implement the following changes to PG&E facilities and operations: (1) decommissioning five dams (Wildcat, Coleman, South, Lower Ripley, and Soap Creek Feeder Diversion Dams); (2) laddering three diversion dams and screening their associated diversions (Eagle Canyon, North Battle Creek Feeder, and Inskip Diversion Dams); (3) increasing flow releases from all remaining diversion dams in Battle Creek’s anadromous fish reaches; and (4) constructing powerhouse tailrace connectors to eliminate redundant screening requirements and mixing of North and South Fork waters. The project will result in 42 miles of newly accessible anadromous fish habitat and improved water quality for the Coleman National Fish Hatchery. Reclamation will implement the physical modifications and PG&E will implement the operational changes. PG&E’s water rights have been dedicated to fish and wildlife resources pursuant to Water Code Section 1707 for the decommissioned dams, and where possible, also will be for other remaining dams.

Post-project monitoring will continue for at least 10 years, with the most focused monitoring during the first 5 years. Salmon/trout populations, species variation, and distribution will be monitored using a number of techniques, including underwater video and fish trapping. Flow and velocity will be measured at each ladder and spillway, and diversion dam temperature will be monitored at numerous stream locations.