Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields

Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields

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Project Goal:

Bring together farmers, conservationists, universities, and state and federal agencies to demonstrate innovative solutions for reintegrating fish food created in floodplain wetlands back to the river food web where fish can take advantage of it.

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Project Stages

100% Planning, Design, and Permitting


Estimated Completion Date:
October 2022, and Ongoing


Project Funders

Northern California Water Agencies 

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Metropolitan Water District

Water Foundation 

Battery Powered (Past)

Fish Affected:

Project Description

Today, 95% of the Central Valley's historical floodplains are cut off from the river by levees. Built in the early 1900s to combat devastating floods, levees and bypasses were constructed to corral mighty rivers and push water quickly through the system. Even before invasive species, large rim dams, and Delta water export facilities were introduced into the system, salmon populations started to dramatically decline with the construction of levees. Simply put, levees cut off fish in rivers from one of their primary food resources, bugs that grow in floodplain wetlands.

CalTrout launched the Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields (Fish Food) project in 2017, working with farmers and water suppliers to pioneer new practices to help recover fish and wildlife populations in the greater Sacramento Valley by reconnecting floodplain-derived wetland food webs to river. Now having finished five field seasons, the project has shown that this science-based approach to managing California's resources has the potential to boost the depleted food resources in Central Valley rivers and help recover endangered fish populations. All data generated from this project is shared with the Bureau of Reclamation and integrated in their salmon population model for the Sacramento Valley.

In 2021, enough fish food was carried by the 13,000 acre-feet delivered to the river to have doubled the size of one million juvenile salmon. Looking forward to 2022, CalTrout has a 40,000-acre goal for enrollment in the program.

Project Partners:

CA Department of Fish & Wildlife
UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
Northern California Water Agencies
State & Federal Contractors Water Agency
Reclamation District 108
Cal Marsh & Farms Ventures LLC
California Rice Commission
CA Department of Water Resources
Knaggs Ranch
Davis Ranches
Next Generation Foods
San Luis & Delta-Mendoza Water Authority
Montana Farms
Lundberg Rice