Work on the Rio Vista Side Channel Habitat Project in Red Bluff has been completed, marking another milestone for the Upper Sacramento River Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Program, with immediate results observed, reports the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Within one week of opening the side channel, endangered winter‐run Chinook juveniles were observed making use of it. 

The program is part of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act  – a federal program of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The project converted a seasonal side channel on the Sacramento River into nearly one acre of new aquatic habitat by excavating down an average of five feet to allow the river’s waters to flow around ‘Ski Island’, as some of the locals call it, year‐round. 

Fish and Wildlife said the project habitat will be a refuge for juvenile salmonids before they migrate out to the ocean, alongwith providing protective cover, slower flows, and sources of food. The project also includes native riparian planting and other habitat features. 

The Rio Vista Side Channel is the fourth side channel project to be completed through the Improvement Act’s Upper Sacramento River Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Program in the last four years, and continues the work of improving spawning and rearing habitat for salmonids in the Sacramento River below Keswick Dam. 

Funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the project had a wide variety of partners including the California Department of Water Resources, Resource Conservation District of Tehama County, Sacramento River Forum, Geographical Information Center - Chico State University, water districts from the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (Reclamation District 108, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Provident Irrigation District, Princeton-Codora-Glenn Irrigation District, Sutter Mutual Water Company, River Garden Farms, Natomas Mutual Water Company), Tehama Colusa Canal Authority, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and a cooperative private landowner. 

For more information about the project or the Improvement Act’s Upper Sacramento River Anadromous Fish Habitat Restoration Program and its partners, contact Harmony Gugino at 529-7383 or harmony@riverforum.org 

For more information about the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program, contact Cynde Davis at 934-8881 or cdavis@gcid.net.

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