McCloud River Projects

A Trifecta of Issues on a Key Blue Ribbon Water

The McCloud River has been under much scrutiny lately. Three specific initiatives are currently underway: 1) a new flow recommendation related to the McCloud reservoir FERC dam relicensing, 2) a federal agency proposal to reintroduce Chinook salmon above Lake Shasta, and 3) the Bureau of Reclamation’s proposed plan to raise Shasta Dam.

Conservation Goals

  • Protect and enhance the hydrologic and ecological processes to sustain the long-term health of the McCloud River.
  • Protect the quality angling experience.

Recent Accomplishments

  • Commented on State Water Board EIR for McCloud River dam relicensing.
  • Conducted a Water Talk series on proposed effort to reintroduce salmon and steelhead above Shasta Dam.
  • Commented on the Draft EIS for raising Shasta Dam.
  • Completed a trout population survey with DFW.

Dam Relicensing Flows
The relicensing process continues — awaiting a State Water Board permit. Through this process, flows below McCloud dam will be set for the next 40-50 years.

Since 2006, CalTrout has been working to protect spawning rainbow trout and rearing fry from current detrimental dam operations (during the winter and early spring) while also protecting the high-quality angling experience.

We have helped craft a flow proposal that meets our goals and we have reviewed the flows with the guiding community to ensure their understanding and buy-in.

Salmon Reintroduction
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Bureau of Reclamation are conducting feasibility studies for the reintroduction of winter and spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead into the McCloud and/or Upper Sacramento Rivers. This would entail trapping adults in Redding and downstream and trucking fish around Shasta Dam. And that would be the easy part; trapping the downstream out-migrating juveniles before they enter Shasta Lake is difficult and expensive.

Philosophically, CalTrout is not in agreement with trap and haul as a long-term, viable solution to salmon recovery. We are engaged with both NMFS and the Bureau of Reclamation to understand the early study proposals, and will stay engaged in the planning of a three-year pilot study that begins this year in an effort to ensure factors of concern are addressed appropriately.

Shasta Dam Raise
CalTrout continues to oppose Bureau of Reclamation’s on again/off again plans to raise Shasta Dam by 18 feet. CalTrout is concerned because raising the dam would inundate up to three miles of the Upper Sac and McCloud Rivers. The McCloud is protected under the state Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and the federal agency in charge of the fish (NMFS) is not even advocating for the raise.

Trout Population Survey

We did have some fun in the name of science on the McCloud River. In cooperation with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) we conducted a mark-recapture trout population study. Gathering 10 of the best anglers we could find, we fished a 1-mile section of The Nature Conservancy property, marking all the fish we caught. We then went back a month later and repeated the effort. By comparing marked to unmarked fish, we were able to derive an approximate population estimate of 2,400 fish (> 6 inches) per mile. We will be repeating the study in future years to keep a pulse on the amazing wild trout fishery of the McCloud River. For more information on the McCloud fish population study see our video at and blog post on Facebook.

What We Will Accomplish in 2014-15

  • Final comments and advocacy on McCloud-Pit FERC project. To read about our position on flows below McCloud Dam click here.
  • Continue to oppose Shasta Dam raise and protect Wild and Scenic status.
  • Go fishing on this amazing river!

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