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Dam Removal Supports Fish Populations, Tribal Traditions

Two years ago, we worked with partners to remove a dam from Hostler Creek in northern California—this summer, we saw fish swimming upstream. The 14-foot-high dam had prevented Chinook, coho, and steelhead from reaching habitat for 75 years. Now, they have access to more than triple the amount of habitat, and they’re putting it to use—we’ve seen young fish rearing upstream.

Hostler Creek has been identified as an important stream for recovery of the coho salmon population. A major barrier on the creek —an irrigation dam and a cascade of boulders—prevented fish from swimming upstream. Contractors removed the barrier and re-graded the stream to create a more natural stream channel and allow fish to access the habitat above the dam. NOAA staff was on hand to help ensure that the dam removal, and design of the new creek, was successful.

This project didn’t just benefit fish—it benefited the members of the Hoopa Valley Tribe, as well. The creek is located on the Hoopa Valley Tribe reservation. They are proud to have taken a significant step in restoring salmon habitat on the Reservation, continuing their historic tradition as a fishing people.

The Tribe used NOAA funding for the project, in partnership with American Rivers. Most of the project supplies and labor were sourced from the Reservation, maximizing economic benefits in the local community, where unemployment rates are very high.

Posted September 8, 2014