NOAA Fisheries, Corps complete consultations on Yuba dam operations

Published May 13, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have completed Endangered Species Act consultations for two sediment dams on the Yuba River.

For Englebright Dam, NOAA Fisheries issued a letter finding that discretionary operation and maintenance actions proposed by the Corps are not likely to adversely affect ESA-listed migratory species or their critical habitat.

For Daguerre Point Dam, NOAA Fisheries completed a biological opinion finding that the proposed actions are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or adversely modify their critical habitat.

Operations and maintenance activities considered in the consultations include operation of the fish ladder at Daguerre Point Dam and other actions to assist fish passage and improve habitat as well as maintenance of visitor and recreation facilities at Englebright Dam. Consultations are required for discretionary federal activities that may affect fish listed under the Endangered Species Act.

“This is one step in protecting listed fish and we will continue to work with the Corps and other stakeholders toward long-term species recovery in the Yuba River,” said Maria Rea, assistant regional director of NOAA Fisheries.

Englebright and Daguerre Point dams were built early in the 20th century to control sediment from gold mining and protect navigation on the Sacramento River. The Corps does not operate the dams for flood control or hydropower; and neither dam has spill gates.

The Corps has several ongoing initiatives to improve fish habitat on the Yuba River.  On the lower Yuba River, for example, the Corps has placed spawning gravel and woody material. Surveys by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission found that salmon are using that gravel for their spawning redds, or nests.

“This biological opinion demonstrates that we remain committed to doing everything we can to help fish in the Yuba River,” said Col. Mike Farrell, commander of the Corps’ Sacramento District. “We have also just started a reconnaissance study to further evaluate what else can be done to improve fish and wildlife habitat along the Yuba River.”

A reconnaissance study is a necessary first step because it helps the Corps to identify the scope of a problem, begin to develop possible solutions, and to identify potential cost-share partners who could participate in the more detailed feasibility study and ultimately assist in implementing the solution. Funding to start a feasibility-level study was included in the president’s 2015 fiscal year budget proposal.

Tyler Stalker - USACE
Jim Milbury - NOAA Fisheries

Release no. 14-025