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Environmental Services - Habitat Expansion Agreement

Chris Wilkinson,
Program Manager
Ecological Studies Branch

3500 Industrial Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
(916) 376-9704
Email Chris

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001



Habitat Expansion Agreement
hea banner combined logos

California Department of Water Resources and Pacific Gas and Electric Company Sacramento
River Basin Habitat Expansion Agreement for Spring-Run Chinook Salmon and Steelhead

Habitat Expansion Actions
identified, evaluated and recommended
Final Habitat Expansion Plan
developed & submitted
Habitat Expansion Agreement amended
NMFS consults on
Final Habitat Expansion Plan
2007 - 2009

Habitat Expansion Agreement

The original HEA had an effective date of November 20, 2007, when the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) entered into the HEA with the following parties: American Rivers; Arthur G. Baggett, Jr.; California Department of Fish and Game (DFG); U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service; National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS); U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); and State Water Contractors, Inc. Under the agreement, DWR and PG&E had 2 years to jointly identify, evaluate, and select the most promising and cost-effective action (s) to expand spawning, rearing, and adult holding habitat for spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento River Basin, as an alternative to the resource agencies and other parties seeking project-specific fish passage prescriptions or license conditions in the new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses for DWR’s Oroville Facilities Project and for PG&E’s Upper North Fork Feather River Hydroelectric Project and Poe Hydroelectric Project (all of which are located in the Feather River system). More background information on the HEA can be found in the Draft Habitat Expansion Plan (DWR and PG&E 2009) and the Final Habitat Expansion Plan (DWR and PG&E 2010), which are briefly described below.

Draft Habitat Expansion Plan

As required by Section 4.1.3 of the HEA, DWR and PG&E (Licensees) prepared a Draft Habitat Expansion Plan (HEP) and submitted it to the HEA Signatories on November 20, 2009. The Draft HEP described how the first phase of the HEA had been implemented and presented the Licensees’ recommended actions. Recommended actions included detailed descriptions of the estimated contribution to the Habitat Expansion Threshold specified in the HEA, a pre-feasibility cost estimate, a proposed implementation schedule, the responsibilities of each Licensee, and the rationale for selecting the actions. In the Draft HEP, the Licensees identified two groupings of habitat expansion and enhancement actions that each met the goals, terms, and conditions of the HEA: (1) the Lower Yuba River Habitat Expansion Actions (Lower Yuba River Actions); and (2) the Battle Creek, Big Chico Creek, and Antelope Creek Habitat Expansion Actions (Three-Creek Actions). The Licensees proposed to select one of these two groups of actions, as modified in response to comments received, to be included in the Final HEP and, ultimately, implemented under the HEA.

Final Habitat Expansion Plan

As required by Section 4.2 of the HEA, the Licensees prepared the Final HEP and submitted it to NMFS for approval on November 19, 2010. The HEA originally identified a 180-day period for completion of the Final HEP. However, the Licensees received significant comments on the Draft HEP, and NMFS commented that the Draft HEP was deficient and recommended that the Licensees request an extension of 6 months to complete the Final HEP. The Licensees requested and were granted a 6-month extension for the purposes of (1) responding to the comments on the Draft HEP, most significantly to address questions regarding the estimates of the contributions of the recommended actions to the Habitat Expansion Threshold (HET) and the eligibility of some of the actions; (2) further developing the actions presented in the Draft HEP; and (3) re-evaluating potential actions in the Upper Yuba River based on new information provided by NMFS.

The recommended actions in the Final HEP consisted of the following three components, collectively referred to as the Lower Yuba River Actions:

  • Expansion of spawning habitat at Sinoro Bar in the Englebright Dam Reach above the Deer Creek confluence;
  • Expansion of spawning habitat at Narrows Gateway in the Narrows Reach below the Deer Creek confluence; and
  • The option of planning for and installing a seasonally operated segregation weir on the Yuba River below the outlet of the Narrows Pool to segregate spring-run and fall-run Chinook salmon, if deemed necessary by the resource agencies (NMFS, USFWS, and DFG).

The recommended actions were modified since the Draft HEP based on comments and additional information. The Licensees removed the Three-Creek Actions from consideration in the Final HEP based on anticipated full or partial funding for the actions from other sources. The Licensees re-evaluated potential actions in the Upper Yuba River based on additional information provided by NMFS and determined that these actions presented technical, legal, social, and logistical hurdles that preclude their completion in a timely manner. Therefore, the Licensees could not recommend the Upper Yuba River Actions for consideration under the HEA at the time the Final HEP was completed.

The Lower Yuba River Actions, however, would achieve the goals of the HEA by expanding habitat in the Yuba River below Englebright Dam to support spawning, rearing, and adult holding of spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead. This group of actions was estimated to expand the habitat sufficiently to exceed the HET. The actions rated favorably on a number of HEA criteria, including supporting segregation between fall-run and spring-run Chinook salmon and having a high potential to establish another independent, self-sustaining population of spring-run Chinook salmon in the Sacramento River Basin.

HEA & HEP Documents

The following links contain the Final and Draft HEPs, Amended Habitat Expansion Agreement, and material relevant to developing those documents.