Program Strategy

Fishery managers must address complex biological, economic, social, and technological issues to substantially restore natural production of anadromous fish in the Central Valley. Restoration is costly and requires changing the way aquatic resources and habitats are managed. Because this challenge is great, the AFRP requires solid strategies to select and implement effective restoration actions.

AFRP strategies consist of two components, Implementation Principles and an Implementation Approach. Implementation principles are the tenets guiding prioritization and selection of actions. The implementation approach describes key aspects of how restoration actions will be implemented.

Implementation Principles

To ensure best effort and reasonableness, restoration actions are prioritized and selected based on five tenets of anadromous fish restoration. These principles include:

    the magnitude of the contribution to doubling natural production,
    the status of target species and races
    measures that protect and restore natural channel and riparian habitat values through habitat restoration actions
    modifications to Central Valley Project operations
    implementation of the supporting measures mandated by subsection 3406(b) of the CVPIA.

Section 3406(b)(1)(A) of the CVPIA, directs the AFRP to give first priority to measures:

“which protect and restore natural channel and riparian habitat values through habitat restoration actions, modifications to Central Valley Project operations, and implementation of the supporting measures mandated by this subsection;”

These principles are discussed below.

Contribution to Natural Production

Placing priority on actions that result in large increases in natural production will most efficiently contribute to meeting target production levels.

Species Status

Placing priority on species and races whose abundance is precariously low will help maintain the genetic diversity of anadromous fish in the Central Valley. Maintaining genetic diversity will preserve adaptability and resilience, which are essential if natural production is to be sustainable on a long-term basis.

Winter-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are listed as endangered and spring-run Chinook salmon as threatened under both the federal and state Endangered Species acts. Steelhead (O. mykiss) are listed as threatened under the federal ESA. All other races of Chinook salmon are considered candidates for listing by the National Marine Fisheries Service. White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), green sturgeon (A. medirostris), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), and American shad (Alosa sapidissima) have also suffered significant, long-term declines.

Restoring Natural Habitat Values

Protecting and restoring natural channel and riparian habitat values promotes natural processes that regulate geomorphic characteristics, nutrient dynamics, and production capabilities of streams, rivers, and estuaries. Restoring natural processes is essential to ensure that physical and biological ecosystem components can resist declines and recover after natural and anthropogenic perturbations.

Modifying CVP Operations

Placing priority on actions that modify detrimental CVP operations will directly help minimize impacts on fish, wildlife, and associated habitats; help balance competing demands for the use of CVP water, including the requirements of fish and wildlife.

Implementing Supporting Measures in the CVPIA

Placing priority on implementing the supporting measures mandated by subsection 3406(b) of the CVPIA focuses restoration efforts where the Secretary has the authority to be most effective. In particular, the Secretary is directed to provide flows of suitable quality, quantity, and timing to protect all life stages of anadromous fish.

Together, these implementation principles can be used to prioritize different actions that address a common limiting factor (e.g. a lack of suitable spawning substrate) as well as compare actions that address different limiting factors (e.g. lack of suitable spawning substrate vs. illegal harvest) within each watershed. By applying these principles, the AFRP will best support and give priority to actions that contribute to increasing natural production of anadromous fish through the restoration of natural habitat values before supporting actions that increase production by other means.

Implementation Approach

The AFRP approach to making all reasonable efforts to at least double natural production of anadromous fish requires partnerships, local involvement, public support, adaptive management, and flexibility.


A single entity cannot double natural production of anadromous fish throughout the Central Valley. Partnerships are needed. Voluntary collaborations to achieve mutual goals and objectives accelerate accomplishments, increase available resources, reduce duplication of efforts, encourage innovative solutions, improve communication, and increase public involvement and support through shared authority and ownership of restoration actions. The AFRP is continually seeking partners to facilitate restoration.

Local Involvement

The AFRP actively encourages local citizens and groups to share or take the lead in implementing restoration actions. Influences on anadromous fish production in specific watersheds are often related to local water management and land use, which are typically controlled by local individuals and groups. Local people may have innovative approaches to solving problems, and may be able to implement those solutions most efficiently. This approach is consistent with California Biodiversity Council's "California's Coordinated Regional Strategy to Conserve Biological Diversity" in which 26 state and federal agencies emphasize regional solutions to regional problems.

The AFRP encourages local involvement by joining with existing local restoration groups and supporting the formation of new groups.

Public Support

Public support is both a product and a prerequisite of successful partnerships and local involvement. Public sentiment is an indicator of perceived economic and social effects of restoration actions. Public support for an action facilitates implementation and attracts partners for future actions. The AFRP continually seeks opportunities for the public to assist in planning and implementing restoration actions.

Adaptive Management

The AFRP is employing an adaptive management strategy to increase the effectiveness of restoration actions and to address scientific uncertainty. Adaptive management is an approach that allows resource managers to learn from past experiences through formal experiment or by altering actions based on their measured effectiveness. Monitoring programs are the foundation of the adaptive management approach.


Implementation of restoration actions needs to be flexible so that unforeseen opportunities can be pursued if they meet the intent of the CVPIA. Also, flexibility will help the AFRP address unforeseen factors that arise or problems that may intensify in the future. The AFRP has the flexibility to work with partners to develop actions consistent with the intent of the CVPIA to address specific problems as they arise or intensify. This flexibility facilitates efforts to maximize the effects of restoration efforts and to sustain benefits to fish production that accrue from these restoration efforts and other management activities.

To implement this approach, the USFWS established five Habitat Restoration Coordinator (HRC) positions, each assigned a specific geographic area within the Central Valley. Focused in his or her assigned area, each HRC represents the AFRP, develops and nurtures partnerships, develops projects with partners that contribute to making all reasonable efforts to at least double natural production of anadromous fish, and oversees all aspects of implementation of projects in which the AFRP invests funds. In 1998, the AFRP added three more HRCs from the CDFG to this effort, one from each of the CDFG regions within the Central Valley. Together, the USFWS and CDFG HRCs form an interagency team to coordinate, develop and implement restoration projects consistent with the goal, objectives, strategies, processes and priorities described in the Restoration Plan.

Since 1995, the AFRP has been pursuing program objectives by helping to design, fund and manage restoration actions, technical evaluations, and monitoring activities that focus on solving or better understanding a wide variety of problems faced by wild anadromous fish populations at all stages of their life cycles. Many of these projects stem directly from the list of proposed actions developed during the AFRP planning process; others have developed in response to new ideas proposed by a variety of program partners.

AFRP-funded projects to improve habitat have included removal of artificial barriers to migration, installing or upgrading fish ladders, expanding and/or improving the quality of spawning grounds, improving salmon rearing and riparian habitat, developing and nurturing educational programs, investigating into salmonid natural history, and acquiring permanent easements in floodplains and riparian corridors. To ensure project effectiveness, all projects include a monitoring component to document pre- and post- project conditions. For detailed project descriptions, see Projects.