The Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project, encompassing the Battle Creek Dams, was originally developed to support the power demand of mineral extraction in Shasta County including Iron Mountain Mine near Redding. The drainage was seen as an ideal drainage for hydropower generation due, in part, to its spring-fed water supply. The project included eight low-head dams within anadromous fish reaches, an additional four dams outside of the anadromous habitat, and a complex network of 20 diversion canals and pipelines.
Originally built by Keswick Power Company and now owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)
Battle Creek, tributary to the Sacramento River near Red Bluff, CA
Hydroelectric development began in the early 1900’s. PG&E acquired the facility in 1919 and the fifth and final powerhouse was added in 1980.
12 to 56 ft in height. Water storage capacity totals 3,827 acre feet (range by reservoir 15 to 1,827).
Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA Fisheries, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, PG&E, California Bay-Delta Authority, California State Water Resources Control Board The Nature Conservancy, California Wildlife Conservation Board, and community members.
Historically, Battle Creek was home to a diverse assemblage of anadromous and resident fishes adapted to its specific hydrology and habitats. North Fork Battle Creek is spring-fed with water originating from the flanks of Mt. Lassen and provided ideal spawning, holding and rearing habitats for winter-run Chinook Salmon. This run or ecotype is unique to California and is one of the most endangered salmon. South Fork Battle Creek is storm driven and has deep holding pools that provide habitats for spring-run Chinook Salmon which are listed as threatened on both the state and federal level Federally threatened anadromous Central Valley steelhead trout, Pacific Lamprey and a host of native resident fish species also reside in the drainage. The construction of the Battle Creek Project virtually eliminated access to 42 miles of anadromous habitat as well as connectivity for resident fish populations.
There is new hope on the horizon to provide volitional passage to all historical fish habitats in Battle Creek and to restore its natural hydrograph. Over two decades of planning and restoration efforts are underway to balance the needs of native fishes with hydropower generation. PG&E was in the process of renewing a federal hydropower license before its expiration on July 31st, 2026. However, in 2020, PG&E filed notice of its intent to not file an application for a new license and no other party filed a notice of intent to assume responsibility of the project. This will likely lead to project decommissioning meaning restoration efforts have now pivoted to preparing for project decommissioning and maximizing the benefit for native fishes. CalTrout is a member of a team that is leading the way to restore Battle Creek. In 2021, CalTrout and others completed a project on North Fork Battle Creek to restore access to eight miles of winter-run Chinook Salmon habitat. This project created a foundation for future progress in Battle Creek and other rivers in California. The USFWS Coleman National Fish Hatchery is the largest federal Chinook Salmon production facility in the lower 48 states. The hatchery’s fish production compensates for the loss of production in the Sacramento River caused by extensive hydropower and water delivery infrastructure. The hatchery is currently reliant on water delivery from the Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project. CalTrout, is working together with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and others to find ways to secure the water supply needs of Coleman Hatchery independently from the project, paving the way for improved fisheries in Battle Creek.
Removal of several dams is already underway through the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project, which indicates high likelihood of completely restoring anadromous fish access to the area. The first dam removal occurred in 2010 with the removal of Wildcat Dam on the North Fork which opened miles of fish habitat. Efforts are now in progress to initiate the removal of all dams on the South Fork as well as provide passage beyond the remaining North Fork dams. With PG&E’s announcement to surrender their hydroelectric license, the potential for complete dam removal is promising.
Help Restore Battle Creek: Subscribe to CalTrout’s newsletter to stay up to date on any developments. CalTrout’s expansion into the Battle Creek watershed is funded by our 50th Anniversary Impact Fund. Support this work by donating to the Impact Fund today.Help Us