The Grand Opening of the Largest Salmon Farming Floodplain Habitat Project in California History

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The first ceremonial excavator during Big Notch’s groundbreaking ceremony at the Fremont Weir Wildlife Area in Yolo County.
Credit: DWR

June 24, 2022 – SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Federal and state agencies on Thursday broke ground on a project that will become the largest floodplain salmon farming habitat restoration in California history. The U.S. Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) are partnering with the “Big Notch Project,” a 30,000 fish passage and floodplain habitat restoration project acres in the Yolo Bypass in Yolo County.

The project will expand floodplain rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and improve bypass access for salmon and sturgeon, which is critical to the recovery of these threatened and endangered fish species. .

“As California experiences its third year of dry conditions, the state and federal partners are committed to supporting wildlife during this prolonged drought,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “This project is part of a decades-long plan that has been recognized as essential for the recovery of threatened and endangered salmon.”

“Big Notch is a critical project for the ongoing operations of water projects that are critical to the state,” said Ernest Conant, California-Great Basin Regional Reclamation Manager. “Big Notch is an example of the collaboration needed to implement a complex and expensive project, and everyone came together to make it happen.”

The Big Notch Project is located within the Fremont Weir State Wildlife Refuge in Yolo County. Part of the project includes removing a section of the Fremont Weir, installing three gates, excavating 180,000 cubic yards to create a new salmon path, and constructing a control and monitoring building. a pedestrian bridge.

When the project is complete in late 2023, the closed pass, or notch, will open when the Sacramento River is high enough to flow into the Yolo Bypass floodplain. Water will enter the diversion through the Fremont Weir notch and create shallow water habitat for fish to easily migrate through the area. Juvenile salmon will be able to feed longer in an area rich in food, allowing them to grow faster and improving their chances of survival when they make it to the Pacific Ocean. Adult salmon and sturgeon will benefit from improvements that will reduce stranding and migration delays due to barriers of passage.

The Big Notch Project is implemented in conjunction with the State Water Project and the Federal Central Valley Project. The State Water Project provides water to 27 million Californians, 750,000 acres of farmland and businesses across the state. The Central Valley Project provides an annual average of 5 million acre-feet of water for farms, 600,000 acre-feet of water for municipal and industrial uses, water for wildlife refuges and reduces the risk central valley flood.

Additional Resources:

For more information on the Big Notch Project, visit:

https://water.ca.gov/Programs/Integrated-Science-and-Engineering/Restoration-Mitigation-Compliance/Yolo-Bypass-Projects
Source: CA. DWR


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