Dominie and Rowdy Creek Fish Passage Improvement

The Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation has been pursuing the removal of a fish passage barrier at the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery since 2014.  To date the following has been completed as precursors to removal of this high priority barrier: Rowdy Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project Final Feasibility Study [February 2015 (funded by CDFW FRGP)], Dominie and Rowdy Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project Final Basis of Design Report [August 2018 (funded by WCB)], and currently (to be completed in June 2022) the environmental and compliance portion of the Rowdy Creek and Dominie Creek Fish Passage Project (funded by CDFW Prop1). PCSRF funding will supplement the TDN Fisheries Program and its current projects by providing the funding necessary for implementation of the Rowdy and Dominie Creek Fish Passage Improvement Project.  The final piece needed for Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation to reach the goal of removal of this high priority fish passage barrier.  This is critical to the goals of TDN to address limiting factors of salmonids in the lower Smith River. The PCSRF funds will provide fish passage for important Tribal trust species to additional spawning and rearing habitat above the Hatchery. It will also improve infrastructure and operations at the Rowdy Creek Fish Hatchery. The Hatchery diversion weir is CDFW’s number one priority fish barrier for removal. The Hatchery infrastructure is dated and inappropriate by today’s standards due to the migrational barrier it creates for anadromous species such as Coho Salmon, Coastal Cutthroat Trout, Steelhead, and Chinook Salmon (collectively termed “salmonids”) and Pacific Lamprey. 

 The existing diversion weir on Rowdy Creek is considered a partial barrier to adult fish passage and is comprised of the Hatchery diversion weir (known as the picket fence) which is connected to a large concrete slab. A deep pool has formed downstream of the diversion weir due to the absence of sediment input because of the concrete slab and flow. 

 On Dominie Creek, the following existing infrastructure components have been identified as partial barriers to adult fish passage: concrete entrance apron (at the confluence), water diversion screening facility and associated diversion dam and fish ladder (in the upper portion of Dominie Creek under the Hatchery Access Road bridge). Regarding juvenile salmonids, the hydraulic conditions created by the concrete apron at Dominie Creek and the diversion weir on Rowdy Creek are complete barriers. The diversion weir across Rowdy Creek is one of the most substantial anadromous fish barriers remaining in coastal California outside of major dams.

 The predominant access barrier on Rowdy Creek is caused by the diversion weir/picket fence and the deep tailwater pool that has formed immediately downstream of the diversion weir due to blockage of upstream sediment that would have contributed sediment into the pool, and hydraulic drop. Currently the weir on Rowdy Creek is perched approximately three feet above the pool. Even when the picket fence is out of operation, the jump that salmonids would need to make from the pool over the diversion weir is a major obstacle to volitional passage. The diversion weir is a complete barrier for juvenile salmonids, and a mostly complete barrier for adult salmonids. Only at the highest flows can fish pass over the picket fence exclusion fencing. Due to these barriers, approximately 11.5 miles of habitat on Rowdy Creek and 1.6 miles of habitat on Dominie Creek are either fully or partially inaccessible to salmonids and lamprey (depending on life stage and flow).