Restoration From Headwaters to the Sea
Coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead depend on all aspects of stream health for survival and reproduction. Below you’ll learn about some key restoration solutions, implemented in targeted stretches of the river and stages of the salmon’s lifecycle. The solutions have the potential to improve salmon health and increase salmon population numbers.
1. Ensure the return of adult salmon
Chinook adult salmon – spawning male. © Joseph Tomelleri
Remove barriers to spawning grounds
Salmon migrate from the ocean back up to their birth watersheds to spawn and lay the next generation of eggs. On many streams, barriers block this migration.
Cool the water for spawning
Salmon and steelehead can swim hundreds of miles from the ocean back to their headwaters, only to find the water is too hot for them to spawn.
Sacramento River at Woodson Bridge © TNC
2. Ensure the survival of salmon eggs
Salmon eggs. © Joseph Tomelleri
Create and restore spawning habitat
To produce the next generation, salmon need gravelly streambeds in which to lay their eggs. Too often and in too many places they simply can’t find these anymore.
Fix roads to abate erosion
Salmon require clean gravel beds in which to lay eggs and have them successfully hatch. They often encounter sediment-laden streambeds where eggs are as likely to suffocate as hatch.
3. Ensure the survival of baby salmon
Chinook parr. © Joseph Tomelleri
Provide shelter from storms
Juvenile salmon need calm waters to grow and survive. Fallen trees and debris slow the water down, while also increasing food availability and providing cover from predators.
Increase summer stream flows
Salmon are in many of California’s streams year-round. Climate change and increased human water use are drying up streams in the summer, depriving salmon of their summer stream habitat.
4. Ensure the survival of young salmon to the sea
Chinook post-smolt. © Joseph Tomelleri
Restore floodplains and estuaries
Young salmon can spend months in floodplains and estuaries, taking advantage of abundant food supplies to grow large before going out to sea – increasing their chances of ocean survival.
Increase flows for outmigration
Young salmon need deep and swift water to help them make it out to sea. Human water use and climate change have changed these critical flows, often making migration impossible.