The latest phase of a project to restore salmon spawning areas in the American River begins today near River Bend Park in Sacramento.
The project involves spreading gravel in the riverbed so migrating wild Chinook salmon have more room to create "redds", or nests for their eggs. The goal is to replenish gravel that would have naturally washed downstream, but has been blocked for decades by Folsom and Nimbus dams.
Led by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the dams, the project is in its sixth year and has already proven successful by increasing the number of documented redds.
About 6,000 tons of gravel will be added to the lower American River during this year's phase of the project. Some 5,500 square yards of improved spawning habitat will be created. This year's work is estimated to cost $400,000.
Work hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. All work is located immediately downstream from the pedestrian bridge at River Bend Park. The work is expected to be finished by Friday, Sept. 27.
The gravel will be placed in the river using front-end loaders and bulldozers. People recreating and traveling in the area are advised to pay attention to signs posted in the work area, at boat ramps and attached to the bridge at River Bend Park.
The project is required by the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, a 1992 federal law that reformed federal water operations in California to improve fisheries and aquatic habitat. Partners in the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sacramento Water Forum, California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Sacramento County Regional Parks.
Contact The Bee's Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.