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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

STOCKTON FWO: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners with Stockton East Water District to Improve Fish Passage on the Calaveras River

Region 8, September 7, 2011
Representatives from several of the implementing and supporting entities break ground at the Budiselich Flashboard Dam Fish Passage Improvement Project.
Representatives from several of the implementing and supporting entities break ground at the Budiselich Flashboard Dam Fish Passage Improvement Project. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Donnie Ratcliff, Stockton FWO

On a warm September morning representatives from a multitude of Federal, State, Private and Non-profit entities came together to celebrate the start of an exciting journey that will improve fish passage and aquatic connectivity on the Calaveras River. Ground was symbolically broken at the Budiselich Flashboard Dam Fish Passage Improvement Project on September 7, 2011 and construction activities began in earnest the following Monday.

The project will install seven boulder weirs and a modified rock ramp that will allow adult fish to gradually gain the elevation needed to pass the dam and continue their journey to spawn. This design is also highly preferred to enable the downstream passage of juveniles as they begin their journey to the ocean.

The lower portions of the Calaveras River are a complicated series of nearly 100 potential barriers to passage by aquatic species. A 2005 report by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) identified over 35 of those barriers as high priority and most limiting to opening the river to migratory fish. The Calaveras River Fish Group, an interdisciplinary group of experts seeking to improve fish habitat in the Calaveras River, further refined those results and identified the 4 highest priority barriers for repair or removal. The Budiselich site is the first of those high priority sites to be addressed and experts expect it to be passable by mid-October 2011, assuming flows in the river will be sufficient based on last winter and spring’s large precipitation and runoff events.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) was represented at the event by Paul Cadrett (Stockton FWO Deputy Project Leader), Donnie Ratcliff (Habitat Restoration Coordinator, Anadromous Fish Restoration Program and Region 8 National Fish Passage Program Coordinator) and Kes Benn (Assistant Habitat Restoration Coordinator, Anadromous Fish Restoration Program). 

Cadrett joined speakers from Stockton East Water District (SEWD) and DWR in commending all of the project partners on their efforts to get this important project funded, designed, and implemented.  Ratcliff has participated in all aspects of the project from the inception of the process and facilitates the Calaveras River Fish Group.

The project is funded by the Service, SEWD, DWR, and California Department of Fish and Game. The project will be implemented by SEWD with assistance from DWR’s Fish Passage Improvement Program. Other partners in the project include NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, University of the Pacific, Fisheries Foundation of California, and Friends of the Lower Calaveras River.

For a short video from the event please see:

Contact Info: Ramon Martin, 209-334-2968 ext. 401, ramon_martin@fws.gov