Sacramento River Basin Project Update


Written by: Eric Rickstad

For one of our 2010 Conservation Efforts, Orvis teamed with American Rivers to help restore trout-spawning habitat in California’s Sacramento River Basin. Outdated flood and water-management systems have resulted in the loss of important meadow wetlands that purify and store water and the watershed is affected by dams and diversions and over 1,000 miles of levees, resulting in loss of wetland and water quality. Through the use of targeted projects in the tributary floodplains to restore trout spawning habitat, American Rivers, with the help of Orvis customers, is continuing to bring this remarkable riverine ecosystem back to its natural state. Here’s an update from the field.

American Rivers took several actions over the past yearto help restore river health in the Sacramento River basin. On the tributaryDeer Creek, we removed an illegally constructed levee that prevented the creekfrom accessing its floodplain. We discovered an abandoned rail car buriedinside the levee, which we removed and sent to a metal recycler. Now Deer Creekwill be able to freely access its floodplain regularly and provide habitatfor juvenile and adult trout and promote healthy vegetation. 

Our effort to restore the meadows of Bear Valley and thestretch of the Bear River that flows through it reached an important milestonea few months ago with the completion of our restoration design concepts.American Rivers is proposing to undo decades of misuse of the meadow that hasresulted in the stream channel cutting into the meadow more than 10 feet deep.The restoration plan calls for reconnecting the stream to a section of thehistoric, abandoned stream channel that remains at a healthy depth in relationto the meadow surface and is not incised. This would allow the stream to onceagain meander across the meadow surface over time, recreating the healthydynamic nature of meadow streams that trout, birds, and other species thrive on. 

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