December 22, 2017

DWR and Reclamation release environmental documents for the proposed Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project for public review and comment

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation took steps toward improving fish passage and rearing habitat in the Yolo Bypass with the release of the draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for the proposed Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project. This represents an important milestone for the California EcoRestore initiative. These documents have been made available for public review and comment. Public comments may be provided in person at public meetings in January or by mail/email (details below). Comments must be received by February 15, 2018.

Copies of the draft EIS/EIR, are available at:

The proposed project aims to 1) increase the availability of floodplain fisheries rearing habitat for juvenile Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead; and 2) reduce fish passage migratory delays and loss of fish at Fremont Weir and other structures in the Yolo Bypass for salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. The project would implement the objectives of Reasonable and Prudent Alternative actions I.6.1 and I.7, as described in the existing biological opinion from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service.

The draft EIS/EIR identifies methods to improve fish passage and increase floodplain rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids in the Yolo Bypass. The alternatives considered would benefit Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, and Southern Distinct Population Segment North American green sturgeon.

The draft EIS/EIR analyzes the effects of no action and six alternative actions. The alternatives considered consist of one or more gated notches in the Fremont Weir, at the northern end of the Yolo Bypass. The goal of the increased volume of water entering the Yolo Bypass would be to pull more fish onto the bypass and create a larger floodplain area. This would allow juvenile salmon to feed in a food-rich area for a longer time where they can rapidly grow to a large size, thus improving their survival to the ocean. The project would also reduce migratory delays for adults returning to their spawning grounds. Analysis under CEQA indicates the potential for significant impacts to water quality, fisheries, agricultural resources, air quality, and noise caused by the construction and/or operation of some of the alternatives under consideration.

Two public meetings have been scheduled to receive oral or written comments on the draft EIS/EIR:

  • Wednesday, January 17, 2018, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Woodland Community and Senior Center, 2001 East Street, Woodland, CA 95776.
  • Thursday, January 18, 2018, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., West Sacramento Community Center, 1075 West Capitol Ave, West Sacramento, CA 95691.

Written comments must be received by close of business Thursday, February 15, 2018. Please submit written comments to either:

  • Karen Enstrom, California Department of Water Resources, 3500 Industrial Blvd., West Sacramento, CA 95691 or Karen.Enstrom@water.ca.gov
  • Ben Nelson, Bureau of Reclamation, Bay-Delta Office, 801 I St., Suite 140, Sacramento, CA 95814 or bcnelson@usbr.gov.

For further information, please contact Karen Enstrom at (916) 376-9778 or Karen.Enstrom@water.ca.gov or Ben Nelson at (916) 414-2424 (TTY 800-877-8339) or bcnelson@usbr.gov.