HRE Act Celebration: Fish Passage Clears Way for Steelhead, Chinook, Coho

Photo: Mendocino County RCD

In 2020, we’re celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the Habitat Restoration and Enhancement (HRE) Act by spotlighting all of the amazing habitat- and species-boosting work restorationists have done around California.

What: Bridge Installation/Fish Passage Improvement
Who: Mendocino County Resource Conservation District
Where: Rancheria Creek, a tributary of the Navarro River

Pre-construction look at the culvert and concrete debris. Photo: Mendocino County RCD.

A lot of what we do as human beings to tame our waterways and make them more habitable for us doesn’t add up to improvements for fish and other species that make streams and rivers their home. One of the most common instances of this are culvert installations, which can block salmon access to their upstream spawning grounds. They’re so common we might not even register them at times, but they have a significant impact on fish populations, as well as other environmental factors.

To that end, Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (RCD) and a private landowner replaced an undersized culvert with a 50-foot-long single span pedestrian bridge. The results? Access for salmon to 1.3 miles of spawning and rearing habitat upstream. This means Steelhead trout, Coho and Chinook salmon returning from their long journeys to the ocean can lay eggs and complete their life cycles. The project also removed sediment and improved the stream by removing large chunks of concrete.

Boosted fish populations, better pedestrian access and better riparian habitat – a triple win thanks to Mendocino RCD and the landowner! Restoration isn’t always dramatic, but the effects definitely add up for imperiled species and for our own well-being.

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