Woody debris in Caspar Creek © USFS, Pacific Southwest Research Station

Restoration Solutions

Restoration From Headwaters to the Sea

Restoration groups across the state are helping salmon and steelhead populations tremendously by implementing restoration solutions that improve stream health. Follow the graphic below to learn about key restoration solutions that, if implemented in targeted stretches of the river and stages of a salmon’s lifecycle, help more salmon survive and reproduce successfully. If solutions like these are implemented in enough salmon rivers across the state, salmon can be brought back from the brink.

Headwaters Tributaries River channel Tributaries River channel Floodplain Estuary River mouth
Mountains

1. Ensure the return of adult salmon

Chinook salmon - spawning maleChinook 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 © The Nature Conservancy

2. Ensure the survival of salmon eggs

Salmon eggsSalmon 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 parrChinook 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-smoltChinook 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.

Porter Creek Streamflow Enhancement ProjectPorter Creek Streamflow Enhancement Project © Sonoma Resource Conservation District