Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $14,250
Principal Investigators: Theodore Grantham
Abstract: The proposed study will evaluate the ecological benefits of an innovate streamflow augmentation project, in which stored water will be released into a stream to protect endangered salmon during the low-flow summer season. The study will quantify how increased flows affect fish habitat conditions relative to an upstream control reach on Porter Creek, a tributary to the Russian River in Sonoma County, California. We will specifically assess how flow releases influence the hydrologic connectivity, spatial distribution, quality, and total availability of suitable fish habitat. We will also quantify how effects of flow augmentation change over the course of the dry season, when water inputs from upstream surface- and ground-water sources naturally decline. The proposed study will directly inform operations of the streamflow augmentation project on Porter Creek. By providing resources agencies and key stakeholders with critical information about the relationships between streamflow and fish habitat conditions, the study will also aid in the prioritization, design, and evaluation of other streamflow enhancement projects, inform regional instream flow recommendations, and support strategic planning for emergency drought actions, such as fish relocations. Findings of the study will be made broadly available to the public and salmon recovery partners via a project report, peer-reviewed journal publication, technical meetings and a workshop. Overall, the proposed study will strengthen the scientific foundation guiding the management of summer low-flows, improve the ecological benefits of streamflow enhancement projects, and support the recovery of endangered salmon populations in coastal California.