About Fish Habitat Enhancement
Since its formation in 1959, Yuba Water Agency has worked with local, state and federal agencies, as well as environmental groups and tribes, to protect wild salmon and steelhead in the lower Yuba River. Although heavily impacted by the effects of hydraulic gold mining and the construction of Englebright Dam, the lower Yuba River supports important fisheries.
Lower Yuba River Accord
The Lower Yuba River Accord, a 2008 settlement agreement, has further improved habitat in the lower Yuba River through higher instream flows. Through the Yuba Accord, Yuba Water Agency has funded $5 million in fishery studies that have paved the way for fish habitat improvements, and continues to fund $500,000 each year for further studies.
Cold Water Assistance
Chinook salmon and steelhead are able to thrive in the lower Yuba River because Yuba Water Agency provides dependably cool water temperatures from New Bullards Bar Dam. Prior to construction of the dam, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found that spring-run Chinook salmon had become virtually extinct from the lower Yuba River. With the advent of cold water releases from New Bullards Bar Dam, spring-run Chinook salmon became re-established in the river and Yuba Water Agency continues to work with local, state and federal agencies, as well as environmental groups, to protect and restore the Yuba River's Chinook salmon and steelhead runs.
Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative
The Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative is working on a program to reintroduce spring-run Chinook salmon to the North Yuba River above New Bullards Bar Dam and to enhance habitat in the lower Yuba River.
Fish Habitat Enhancement Activities
Yuba Water Agency's major projects and programs to improve fish habitat include:
- Managing the Yuba River Development Project to provide up to an additional 170,000 acre-feet of instream flows
- Leading the River Management Team for habitat studies and restoration actions
- Funding for the Cordua and Browns Valley Irrigation District fish screens
- Constructing the $12.5 million Narrows II Powerhouse bypass to ensure adequate fisheries flows in the event of a power outage
- Financing for the annual ‘salmon carcass' study with the California Department of Fish and Game to track fish populations
- Contributing to Yuba County classroom education grants and activities
- Assisting the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in fish passage studies