Lower Mad River Road Decommissioning and Fish Passage Barrier Removal

Stream crossing culvert set too high in the fill, creating a fish passage barrier
Stream crossing culvert set too high in the fill, creating a fish passage barrier

2011 North Coast Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat Restoration Projects:
Lower Mad River – A Case Example

Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife, and Wetlands Restoration Association
Near Blue Lake, CA.
Project Lead (s): 
Randy Lew

Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Restoration Association (PCFWWRA), Pacific Watershed Associates (PWA), Green Diamond Resource Company (GDRCo) and California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) have collaborated on multiple fisheries enhancement projects throughout our North Coast watersheds. Many of these projects have been funded through the CDFG Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP) and with matching dollars from the landowner, GDRCo. These projects are intended to provide a direct benefit to coastal anadromous fisheries while also contributing to sustainable jobs and economic development within the North Coast of California.

One such project example occurred in the lower Mad River watershed, where Vincent Creek, a cold water tributary to the Mad River, had been blocked near its confluence with the Mad River since the early 1900s. Additionally, two other culverted stream crossings within the project area were impeding fish passage and large quantities of sediment threatened to deliver directly to Vincent Creek if not remediated. This project entailed hydrologic decommissioning of several miles of unneeded road network which included the removal of the 3 separate fish barriers. The primary barrier at the mouth of Vincent Creek was a culverted stream crossing with an outlet drop of over 5 vertical feet, which completely impeded all life stages of fish passage. Just before the project commenced over 50 juvenile steelhead were identified below the culvert outlet in Vincent Creek and none were identified above.

By the end of October 2011 all project work was completed, which included the hydrologic decommissioning of 2.3 miles of streamside road. This remediated over 11,000 yds3 of potential sediment delivery to Vincent Creek in addition to the removal of 3 barriers to fish passage, which potentially support over 6,400 ft of suitable spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead and coho salmon. This project employed skilled heavy equipment contractors including excavator, bulldozer and dump truck operators, as well as geologic technical design and contractor oversight staff. Also, local business were supported through the purchases of materials such as straw mulch, culverts, rock, fuel, etc. The project will be monitored over the coming years to quantify anadromous fish utilization and benefit for the Mad River.

This is just one case example of an ongoing multi-million dollar fisheries restoration program occurring throughout the North Coast. These projects provide a direct benefit to our anadromous fisheries while also providing sustainable employment that supports skilled workers and local businesses.  

For any questions regarding this project or related fisheries restoration issues feel free to contact:

Randy Lew, Geologist (PWA)                                   707-839-5130

Mitch Farro, Projects Manager (PCFWWRA)             707-839-5664

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