© Thomas Dunklin

Once tremendously abundant, California wild salmon are now on the brink of extinction

The State of Salmon in California

Chinook, coho and steelhead were once tremendously abundant in most of California’s major rivers and streams. As recently as the 1960s, salmon and steelhead were so plentiful in streams that horses would get spooked trying to cross.

Due to water damming and diversions, habitat degradation, climate change and drought, salmon and steelhead populations have declined dramatically. They have even completely disappeared from many streams.

But there is hope. Wildlife and river restoration groups throughout the state are working together to change this trajectory.

The State of Salmon in California presents the problems salmon are facing and their population trends in the state’s major rivers and streams, as well as the transformative solutions that could bring these species back from the edge.

Statewide Status of Salmon and Steelhead

Click on one of the species below to view a statewide map showing where it lives and a graph of how its population numbers have changed over the past decades.

Upper Klamath River © Kevin Arnold
Shasta River © Bridget Besaw
Cosumnes River © Karen Gregg Elliott/TNC
Santa Clara River © Barbara Wampole

Restoration From Headwaters to the Sea

Coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead depend on all aspects of stream health during their lifecycle. From watershed headwaters to river’s mouth, salmon and steelhead rely on stream well-being for survival and reproduction.

Snapshots of our Salmon Rivers

See all Rivers

Click below to view a snapshot of salmon and steelhead populations in one of 55 monitored California rivers and streams. Snapshots include statuses and trends of fish populations, maps of historic and present distribution and the salmon community partnerships and projects restoring the salmon habitat.

Sacramento River (mainstem)

Chinook salmon - spawning male
Late Fall-run Chinook
Year Population Trend
2022 4,766
Chinook salmon - ocean bright female
Winter-run Chinook
Year Population Trend
2022 5,940
Chinook salmon - dark Columbia male
Spring-run Chinook
Year Population Trend
2022 466
Chinook salmon - spawning male
Fall-run Chinook
Year Population Trend
2022 4,680
Steelhead - male
Year Population Trend
2022 unknown
Read more
Sacramento River © The Nature Conservancy

Restoration Partners

See all Partners

The salmon conservation community includes people working in non-profit conservation organizations, federal, state, and local resource agencies, water agencies, tribes, and private entities, such as timber companies. Over 100 organizations around the state are listed below that are involved in salmon recovery and habitat restoration efforts.

Learn which restoration partners are working on each river and how by visiting the Salmon Rivers page.