Yuba named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers

Salmon at risk if Army Corps doesn't provide passage around dam

May 17th, 2011

Nevada City, CA – Outdated dams are preventing salmon recovery on the only major river draining the Sierra Nevada that still has wild runs. This risk earned the Yuba a spot on the annual list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers™– a report issued by the conservation group American Rivers. 

Best loved for its popular hiking trails, granite swimming holes, and challenging whitewater runs, the Yuba River is one of California’s last refuges for spring-run Chinook salmon. But two outdated Army Corps of Engineers dams block migration of salmon and steelhead to more than 100 miles of historic spawning habitat in the upper Yuba. 
American Rivers, the South Yuba River Citizens League and their partners are calling on the Army Corps to consider all options, including dam removal, for moving fish around the 280-foot high Englebright Dam and 25-foot high Daguerre Point Dam.

“These dams have locked salmon and steelhead at the bottom of the valley for 70 years,” said Steve Rothert, director of the California office of American Rivers. “It’s time for the Army Corps to bring them home. There is enormous potential on the Yuba to recover wild salmon and the time is now to seize the opportunity.”

“For two decades we’ve been working in Congress, the courtroom and the collaborative science table to showcase the salmon restoration potential on the Yuba River.”  Today there is a confluence of federal processes and scientific consensus directed at the Corps’ dams—for the sake of California’s wild salmon, let’s restore Yuba Salmon Now!” said Jason Rainey, Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL).

River flows below the Corps’ Englebright Dam have improved salmon habitat conditions thanks to the 2007 launch of the Lower Yuba River Accord, an agreement between SYRCL and the Yuba County Water Agency and others.  However, The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recognizes that passage above the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Englebright Dam on the Yuba should be the primary reintroduction measure to recover endangered salmon in the Northern Sierra region. American Rivers called on NMFS to mandate fish passage in its forthcoming Biological Opinion.

“Over the last century, we systematically disconnected salmon and steelhead from their spawning grounds while providing vague assurances that hatcheries would not only keep the salmon runs healthy, but even expand them.  For many reasons, this approach has failed, utterly.  Our only choice is to reconnect salmon with their watersheds. ,” said Jeffery Mount, Founding Director of the Center for Watershed Science, UC Davis.

About America’s Most Endangered Rivers

For 26 years, American Rivers has sounded the alarm on 360 rivers through our America’s Most Endangered Rivers report.  The report is not a list of the “worst” or most polluted rivers, but is a call to action for rivers at a crossroads, whose fates will be determined in the coming year. Over the years, the report has helped spur many successes including the removal of outdated dams, the protection of rivers with Wild and Scenic designations, and the prevention of harmful development and pollution.
American Rivers’ staff and scientific advisors review nominations for the following criteria:

  • A major decision that the public can help influence in the coming year
  • The significance of the river to people and wildlife
  • The magnitude of the threat, especially in light of climate change

For the third consecutive year, America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ is sponsored by The Orvis Company, which donates 5% of their pre-tax profits annually to protect nature.


###

About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.