Parks Creek is a critical tributary to the Shasta River in the Mid-Klamath Basin. The Shasta River was historically one of the most productive salmon streams in California. Groundwater from cold, nutrient-rich springs provided nearly ideal aquatic habitat conditions that supported large Chinook and coho salmon populations. But more than a century of aquatic and riparian habitat degradation along the Shasta River and its tributaries—including Parks Creek—has resulted in dramatic declines in wild salmon populations.
CalTrout’s Parks Creek Flow Enhancement and Fish Passage Project is working with the Cardoza Ranch to enhance flows and restore critical spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead throughout the watershed. The project is essential for recovering salmon populations throughout the Mid-Klamath Basin because degraded flows, water quality, and habitat conditions continue to limit spawning and rearing in vital cold-water tributary streams.
With cooperation from the Cardoza Ranch, the Project will result in enhanced flow of a minimum of 2.98 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water instream by moving the point of diversion 2.8 miles downstream, and will also keep water instream due to increased irrigation efficiency by using California Public Resources Code § 1707. Additionally, the Project will remove a major fish passage barrier, providing access for state and federally listed coho salmon to over 14 miles of critical spawning and rearing habitat.
In 2021, CalTrout’s contractors accomplished much of the construction:
In July 2021, our contractor initiated the removal of the outdated water diversion dam that degraded water quality and was an impediment to fish migration for almost a century. A bypass channel was constructed to divert flows around the work area to allow for the removal of the old, undersized culverts that were historically blocked to create the diversion impoundment. The installed sheet pile provides dry working conditions to build the subgrade to specification to support the aluminum span culvert; this will allow for fish passage while maintaining an adequate crossing for cattle and equipment. While the flow enhancement benefits from the project are already being realized, the new fish friendly crossing will be completed by the end of September.
The Parks Creek Flow Enhancement Project resolves water conflict in the Mid-Klamath Basin and Siskiyou County by providing win-win engineering solutions that balance the needs of farmers and fish and wildlife.
This is very good but it is not enough to recover Shasta River Salmon which should be the largest and most robust producer of salmon in the entire Klamath River Basin. To really restore Shasta River salmon we need to take out Dwinnell Reservoir and dam (aka Lake Shastina). That dam and reservoir blocks access to the best salmon habitat and , in particular, the habitat for Spring Chinook salmon. And the reservoir harbors two types of toxic algae.
Cal Trout needs to stop supporting the Safe Harbor Agreement and water right changes for Montague WCD that would lock in Dwinnell dam and reservoir. It’s the right thing to do for salmon. No more bad deals with Ag that hurt salmon.
Obviously restoring original flow by removing shastina dam would be the best way to restore the river. What may not be obvious is who the restoration would benefit, so much of shasta River and klamath river are private property that I would not want my tax dollars to fund increased property value to these landowners just to see the property sold and even more homes being built along an already stressed river. I know I would never enjoy fishing or viewing nature in someone’s back yard.