Eel River, CA

Benbow Dam sits on the Wild and Scenic South Fork of the Eel River in Humboldt County, CA. It is a 15 foot tall flashboard dam that seasonally blocks passage for salmon species.  Historically salmon utilized the Eel River and South Fork of the Eel River. Currently, salmon can only access the South Fork when there are sufficient streamflows, which is only during parts of the year. Salmon species in the Eel River system include California Chinook and Coho salmon, Northern California winter steelhead and lamprey eel. The dam is also a heat source for the river as monitoring studies have found that the reservoir created by the dam, Benbow Lake, may be increasing downstream water temperatures for up 2.2 miles which is a concern for cold water species like salmon.

American Rivers is providing funding to California State Parks through our National Partnership with the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program to look at the possibility of dam removal and river restoration to open up over 60 miles of river to salmon. Dam removal would mean there would be no more barriers to salmon on the South Fork of the Eel River. The dam is also a liability and cost to California State Parks and California taxpayers so there would also be financial benefits to removal.