Officials tour Battle Creek salmon project
Federal authorities toured the $130.4 million Battle Creek Habitat Restoration project in Tehama County on Tuesday.
Michael L. Connor, commissioner of the US Bureau of Reclamation, said the project is an example of reclamation's and Pacific Gas and Electric's commitment to river restoration.
"The work at Battle Creek underscores the significance of how a broad partnership among numerous interests can make possible these dramatic improvements to one of the most important anadromous fish spawning streams in the Sacramento Valley," Connor said in a statement.
The Battle Creek project is a process of restoring 48 miles of streams and tributaries for salmon and steelhead habitat. Battle Creek, located near Manton in the northeast section of the county, is a major tributary of the Sacramento River.
The habitat restoration project is a three-phase process, which includes modifying the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project, owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric.
The restoration project is funded with federal, state and private sources.
Restoration is being accomplished primarily through the removal of five diversion dams, placement of screens and ladders on three other diversion dams, and increasing instream flows.
Despite the loss of nearly one-third of the hydroelectric output at its Battle Creek hydro facility, PG&E was an early supporter of the project as the company recognized the tremendous environmental benefit the project would have for the anadramous fish - fish that begin life in freshwater creeks and live part of their lives in the ocean.
In 1999, a project agreement with Pacific Gas and Electric, the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and the state Department of Fish and Game was signed.
In addition, many other stakeholders, including the Greater Battle Creek Watershed Working Group and Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy, as well as landowners and funding contributors, have played a role in moving the project forward.
Connor was accompanied on the tour by Randy Livingston, PG&E's vice president of Power Generation. and David Murillo, deputy commissioner for operations with the Bureau of Reclamation.
Livingston said the environmental benefits of the project are clear, and PG&E can maintain a viable hydropower facility that coexists with native fish and habitat.
The project is already realizing benefits of improved numbers of spawning salmon in an area that had previously been very difficult for salmon to access.
Biologists with the US Fish & Wildlife Service identified last year a large number of redds — or salmon nests — upstream from where the Wildcat Diversion Dam once stood on North Fork Battle Creek.
Battle Creek is being restored through the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project.
Project construction began in 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2015.