Yuba River, CA
The Yuba River watershed is home to some of the first hydropower dams in California, in some cases dating back to structures built during the gold rush era. Today, more than 30 dams, 20 powerhouses and 500 miles of canals sprawl across the Yuba and Bear watersheds. These dams block access for salmon and steelhead and affect more than 250 miles of rivers by reducing stream flow levels, altering habitat, and affecting native amphibians and resident fish. These dams are owned by the Corps of Engineers, Yuba County Water Agency, Nevada Irrigation District, and Pacific Gas & Electric.
All of these dams are going through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing process now. This process is providing an opportunity for American Rivers to push for improved stream flows, river habitat, and recreation, and for the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead into their historic habitat in the upper Yuba basin.
As California continues to experience climate change and considers how to adapt to future climate conditions, fishery managers have come to recognize the importance of reintroducing salmon and steelhead to historic habitat at higher, and thus cooler, elevations to promote their recovery.