Transforming the Beaver Valley Headwaters Preserve: A $5 Million Effort to Restore Salmon Habitat

Cover photo from CALTROUT.ORG News

The Beaver Valley Headwaters Preserve located on the East Fork Scott River is a priority for recovery of Coho salmon, Chinook salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey and other native fish species. This project seeks to restore ecological balance to all aspects of the aquatic resources on this 6,000-acre ranch. Source: Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors Presentation by CalTrout, Nov. 14th, 2023

The Beaver Valley Headwaters Preserve is a 6,000 acre ranch purchased in 2021 by The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) along the iconic Klamath River tributary, the Scott River, in Northern California. A coalition of over 15 partners, including TWC, local tribes, government agencies, and non-profits, have come together around a $5 million vision to transform aquatic habitat on the property through a landscape-scale restoration effort focused on reviving struggling salmon populations.

The project, titled “Transforming the Beaver Valley Headwaters Preserve – a Holistic, Community Based Approach to Restoring a Klamath River Salmon Stronghold,” aims to take a holistic approach to enhancing over 6 miles of habitat for threatened coho salmon as well as steelhead, Chinook and Pacific lamprey. Proposed actions include reconnecting floodplains, improving instream flows through water rights dedications, replacing a blocked culvert on Big Mill Creek to open up 1.4 miles of spawning grounds, and engaging with the local community.

With designs 65-100% complete, permits underway, and full owner support, the coalition has shovel-ready plans pending $5 million in construction funding. Estimated costs include:

  • $2.5 million to replace the blocked culvert on Big Mill Creek with a free-spanning bridge, restoring fish passage
  • $1 million to reconstruct stream channels, reconnect historic floodplains and enhance in-stream habitat complexity
  • $500,000 to dedicate water rights instream to improve flow conditions
  • $500,000 for project management, monitoring, community/tribal engagement and education
  • $500,000 contingency

The project represents an exceptional opportunity to boost the recovery of coho salmon populations in the Klamath Basin as well as support the economy of the disadvantaged Scott Valley community through jobs and involvement. With the imminent removal of four dams on the Klamath, improving habitat and fish passage on key tributaries like the Scott River will be critical to ensuring salmon can fully capitalize on coming access to over 300 more miles of spawning grounds. The broad coalition of partners also hopes the project can serve as a model for future holistic, watershed-scale restoration efforts on private lands.

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