Rowdy Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project Completed Feasibility Study

In February 2015, a Feasibility Study was completed to identify alternatives to improve fish passage at the hatchery on both Rowdy and Dominie Creeks. This study was led by Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation and completed by GHD Inc. and Michael Love and Associates Inc. The Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery (Hatchery) operates its broodstock collection facility on Rowdy Creek at the Dominie Creek confluence in Del Norte County. The Hatchery is a non-profit organization. A Feasibility Study to evaluate and identify options to improve the in-channel passage environment for aquatic species, especially coho salmon, a State and Federally listed species. Coho salmon extend throughout Rowdy Creek and the majority of lower tributaries of the Smith River. The Smith River population of coho salmon is listed as having high extinction risk. Habitat for coho salmon is listed as threatened across Northern California. Rowdy Creek also supports Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, and lamprey in addition to many other aquatic species. The Study was funded under the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW’s) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). Other funding contributors to this Study include the Five Counties Salmonid Conservation Program (5C Program) in coordination with the State Coastal Conservancy and the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation. Many different stakeholders also participated in the Study. The goal of the Feasibility Study was to develop the framework necessary for project stakeholders to assess and select a preferred alternative that can then be developed further during the next phase of design and ultimately construction. The objectives of the Study were to work with stakeholders to identify project parameters such as: project goals, project objectives, project constraints, and project criteria. The Study also provided background information necessary to understand the past and present geomorphic conditions, developed and clearly described feasible alternatives that meet the project parameters, worked with stakeholders to select an apparent best alternative, and worked with stakeholders to select the preferred alternative. Stakeholders included:

The stakeholder participation culminated with a ranking of the developed alternatives as they compared to the developed project criteria. This process produced the apparent best alternative. The Tolowa Dee-Ni’ Nation then selected the preferred alternative: Alternative D. Alternative D includes the reconstruction of Rowdy Creek with a new roughened channel, the reconfiguration of in-channel Rowdy Creek Hatchery (Hatchery) infrastructure, and modification of the in- channel Hatchery infrastructure on Dominie Creek, and some Dominie channel reconstruction. With the completion of the Feasibility Study Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation, GHD Inc., and Michael Love and Associates Inc. have now entered the Design Phase of planning.

Dominie and Rowdy Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project Design

Dominie Creek is a tributary of Rowdy Creek and Rowdy Creek is a tributary of the Smith River. The Smith River is an important watershed. The Smith River is considered the “crown jewel” of California by the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership. The Smith River supports several populations of salmonids including Chinook and coho salmon and steelhead and cutthroat trout. Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) within the Smith River watershed are a listed under the Federal and California Endangered Species Acts. The Smith River watershed is also important for Pacific Lamprey as well as other aquatic and terrestrial species. The Dominie and Rowdy Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project focuses on improving fish passage conditions at the confluence of these two creeks to benefit salmonids, Pacific lamprey, and other aquatic species while also improving in channel and fish collection infrastructure for the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery. The Project is located in Smith River, California. The Design Report (GHD Inc. and Michael Love and Associates Inc.) is currently at 30% completion and provides a summary of the existing conditions and describes the proposed improvements. The most recent report identifies the project goals, objectives, design criteria and decisions, description of the existing conditions, description of the proposed project, proposed project’s anticipated fish passage conditions, anticipated monitoring and maintenance, and limitations and uncertainties associated with implementation and project performance. The anticipated completion date of the full report is June 2018. Future funding is still needed for permitting and construction. Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation is currently looking into funding for the next steps of the project.

Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery Infrastructure and Operations Report

With the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation (TDN) owning the hatchery facilities, they have taken a lead in securing funds for maintenance improvements. To identify and prioritize those improvements for enhance operational standards, the TDN secured DJ Warren and Associates to conduct an assessment for the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery (RCFH).

The intent was to investigate the most feasible and cost effective way to maintain the infrastructure of the RCFH to meet current state and federal regulations and to determine the feasibility of continued operations that meet the goals of the TDN and the Hatchery Board. This assessment provides a baseline planning document, organized by key operational and facilities planning issues and phases, with recommendations and risk considerations to help inform TDN and the Hatchery Board about decisions and investments that should lead to a longer term sustainable and flexible program.

Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan for Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery

The primary goal of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation’s (TDN) partnership with the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery (RCFH) is to produce Chinook salmon and steelhead to support sustainable tribal, recreational and commercial fisheries in a manner that minimizes negative impacts to natural fish populations. To this end, the TDN initiated a preliminary investigation of the legal, operational, design and production requirements of the RCFH. The results of that investigation are informing the development of Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans (HGMP) for the RCFH. DJ Warren and Associates were hired as the consultants for the project as they were the previous consultants to the preliminary investigation and have a large amount of experience in developing HGMPs. The documents created will enable the RCFH to meet the federal requirement to have HGMPs in place by January 2019. The production of the document will include working closely with Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation, state, and federal agencies, to gather data and information needed to develop comprehensive and complete HGMPs. Initial work involved in developing the HGMPs will involve identifying conservation and harvest goals, scientific defensibility, required monitoring, maintenance and cost-effective operating plans. The RCFH program evaluation DJ Warren and Associates will be doing for the TDN will provide much of the information needed to develop HGMPs in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Two HGMPs will be prepared, one for the Chinook program and a separate HGMP document for the steelhead program. The consultant for this project is working closely with the current RCFH Manager, as well as the TDN Natural Resources Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and NOAA Fisheries, to complete the HGMP(s). The consultants are working with the Tribe and its partners to identify the issues most critical to achieving their goals for the RCFH. The developed HGMPs will meet NOAA Fisheries requirements and allow the RCFH to operate in a safe and scientifically sound manner well into the future.