DWR Studies Ease of Returning Chinook Salmon to Historic Habitat


Using an Innovative Approach, DWR is studying the Feasibility of Returning Chinook Salmon to their Historic Habitat Along the Feather River.
Along the North Fork of the Feather River, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is conducting an innovative reintroduction feasibility study for Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon. The study would help boost the salmon population and potentially return the species to its historic habitat.

Historically, spring-run Chinook salmon had access to spawning and rearing habitat areas above Lake Almanor. However, numerous dams built since the 1920s have prevented Central Valley salmon from accessing that habitat.

The study tests two methods of salmon egg placement. One is an egg box method, which is normally used for reintroduction programs. The second method is direct injection into the gravel, which closely mimics what happens in nature. The two methods of egg placement are used so scientists can compare how each method performed in that environment and have more control over how those eggs emerge.
The selected group of eggs is incubated separately from the other production eggs at the hatchery. The separation allows scientists to sterilize the eggs since these fish are only meant for study purposes. After that incubation, those eggs were brought to the study location, placed into the egg boxes, or injected directly into the river gravel.

The process took place from November 2023 through March 2024. DWR scientists and partners plan to survey the river over the summer to see if some juveniles are growing and maturing in the North Fork Feather River and Warner Creek.

Over the next year, scientists will incorporate lessons learned from the first year of this study while repeating certain elements. The ultimate goal is to determine the feasibility of a long-term, successful reintroduction program.