Washington, DC – California’s rivers and fisheries will benefit from $150,000 in grants announced today by American Rivers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Restoration Center. The funding will advance the effort to remove outdated dams and restore streams in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. American Rivers has dubbed 2011 The Year of the River because the nation will soon reach a significant milestone of 1000 dams removed, including the tallest dam in history.
Grants available through the partnership between American Rivers and the NOAA Restoration Center totaling more than $860,000 were awarded to projects in nine states to improve river health, restore fisheries, improve public safety and reduce flood risks.
“If we want healthy communities we need to invest in healthy rivers,” said Serena McClain, director of river restoration for American Rivers. “Getting rid of outdated dams and restoring free-flowing rivers will pay dividends far into the future in the form of improved clean water, wildlife habitat, public safety and stronger local economies.”
Recent studies out of the Mid-Atlantic and Pacific Northwest indicate that aquatic ecosystem restoration results in 15-30 jobs for every million spent, more than other industrial sectors, including road construction, utility maintenance and construction and defense contractors. Being able to provide this critical combination of economic stimulus and habitat restoration makes programs like NOAA’s Open Rivers Initiative, the genesis of the funding being provided, indispensable.
“NOAA’s work with American Rivers and other organizations to restore fish habitat represents a lasting investment in the health of coastal and river communities,” said Eric Schwaab, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “These projects create immediate jobs restoring habitat and make long-term improvements to the health of fisheries and the jobs, recreation and tourism that healthy habitat supports.”
The Arroyo Sequit Creek Steelhead Barrier Removal Project, located outside of Malibu, will receive $75,000. California State Parks will remove or modify all fish passage barriers located within the Arroyo Sequit watershed in order to provide Southern California steelhead immediate access to 4.5 miles of important habitat. Removing these barriers not only improves access but will improve overall quality of the habitat as well by eliminating erosion caused by the blockages.
This erosion has led to the loss of five adjacent campsites and threatens septic system lines within the park. Two of the barriers are also road crossings that have recently flooded, restricting public, State Park, and emergency personnel access. Replacing these structures with bridges will eliminate that problem.
The Ojai Valley Trail Fish Barrier Removal Project in Ventura County will also receive $75,000. The Ventura County Parks Department will remove the Ojai Valley Trail dry weather crossing at San Antonio Creek and replace it with a single-span bridge that will be able to pass 100-year floods. The project will facilitate passage of migrating Southern California steelhead trout to an estimated 15 miles of streams within the 25 square mile San Antonio Creek watershed. Because this is such a popular trail, it will also provide the opportunity for outreach and education to the community on the importance of healthy rivers and river restoration.
There is tremendous support nationwide for healthy rivers, and American Rivers is celebrating 2011 as The Year of the River. The nation will mark a major milestone when the thousandth dam is removed this year. And we will witness the removal of the tallest dam in September on Washington’s Elwha River. Deconstruction plans for big dams on other rivers including Washington’s White Salmon and Maine’s Penobscot are underway. American Rivers has been instrumental in making the idea of dam removal a solution embraced by hundreds of communities nationwide to restore river health and improve public safety.
Since 2001, American Rivers and the NOAA Community-based Restoration Program have provided financial and technical assistance for more than 144 river restoration projects benefiting fish populations and habitats. Funding is provided through the NOAA Open Rivers Initiative which seeks to enable environmental and economic renewal in local communities through the removal of stream barriers and restoration of fish that live in both marine and freshwater habitats.
Clean, healthy rivers are the lifeblood of our communities and are vital to our health, safety, and quality of life. Most Americans live within a mile of a river or stream, and all of our drinking water comes directly or indirectly from rivers and streams. By protecting and restoring rivers, we are protecting clean drinking water, creating jobs and recreation opportunities that benefit our economy, and revitalizing our natural heritage for future generations.
American Rivers is the nation’s leading voice fighting for clean water and healthy rivers. For almost 40 years we have protected and restored rivers, scoring victories for communities, fish and wildlife, and future generations. American Rivers has offices in Washington, DC and nationwide, and more than 100,000 supporters and volunteers. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.