NOAA Fisheries announces funding for habitat restoration; Benbow Dam to be removed

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) has announced $1.97 million in funding for habitat restoration projects in California and Hawaii to restore nearly 1,000 acres of habitat, and open more than 100 stream miles for fish passage. These projects will benefit species like threatened populations of steelhead trout, Chinook and coho salmon.

"Without the right habitat, fish struggle to grow and reproduce, and that means smaller fish populations," said Will Stelle, Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Western Region. "These projects will increase fish habitat - providing the important feeding and breeding grounds they need to thrive."

In California, populations of fish like salmon and steelhead are limited by a lack of habitat. NOAA Fisheries is working with partners in the region to restore habitat for these fish by removing barriers to fish passage and improving in-stream conditions. These projects address actions recommended in the recovery plans for Endangered Species Act-listed species. Two are located in the Russian River watershed, which is a habitat focus area under NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint. Projects in Hawaii will address the impacts of marine debris on our coastal habitat and wildlife.

Restoration efforts will include:

o Benbow Dam ($205,500): This project, in partnership with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, will ultimately open more than 100 miles of the South Fork Eel River for fish passage when completed. Removal of the Benbow Dam will benefit threatened populations of coho and Chinook salmon and steelhead.

o Green Valley Creek ($400,000): This project, with the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, will expand scarce winter rearing habitat in one of the few remaining streams in the Russian River watershed with wild juvenile coho.

o Hawaiian Islands ($145,500): Two marine debris removal projects, with the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, will remove debris from several islands and monitor our effectiveness.

o Humboldt Bay ($125,000): Working with the Wiyot Tribe, we will remove marine debris from 62 acres of Indian Island and other areas in Humboldt Bay.

o Lost Coast ($150,000): This project, with Trout Unlimited, will reduce the amount of sediment runoff into streams, and improve habitat for three priority watersheds within the Lost Coast area of Northern California for the recovery of Central California Coast coho salmon.

o Lower Klamath River ($128,000): Working with the Yurok Tribe, this project will restore up to 28 acres of habitat by installing log jams and planting trees. These habitat improvements will benefit threatened Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast coho salmon.