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Dams to be removed to help salmon get up stream easier

Daily Democrat  03/17/2007

REDDING (AP) - The state will spend $67 million to tear down five small dams along Battle Creek, a tributary to the Sacramento River. The Department of Fish and Game announced the funding Thursday, the final piece of a two-decade effort to make it easier for salmon and steelhead to spawn upstream. The 12- to 15-foot concrete dams run between Manton and the Coleman National Fish Hatchery near Anderson.

"This is really the culmination of 20 years of work," said Mike Berry, staff environmental scientist at the department's Redding office.

Eight dams along Battle Creek were built in the early 1900s and divert water to powerhouses that generate electricity for 15 million Pacific Gas & Electric Co. customers from Eureka to Bakersfield.

PG&E spokeswoman Lisa Randle said the utility will replace the lost power with other sources but will keep three dams in operation.

"As a company, we do think it is the right thing to do," Randle said.

Removing five dams and adding fish ladders to the other three will open 42 miles of spawning and rearing habitat to wild salmon and steelhead, Berry said.

But critics said the project doesn't go far enough because the best fish habitat sits above the dams that will be left in operation.

"We really think the most effective way to do this is to take out all eight of the dams," said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations.

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