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Fish Passage Improvement Program (FPIP)

Lower Butte Creek

photo of salmon in creek


Several agencies and water districts have implemented restoration projects in the Butte Creek watershed, with the goals of improving fish passage, increasing natural salmon and steelhead production, and enhancing riparian habitat. Lower Butte Creek encompasses Butte Sink south through the Sutter Bypass. Sutter Bypass restoration activities are coordinated through the Lower Butte Creek Project's Sutter Bypass Eastside Stakeholder Group. Members of the stakeholder group include DWR's Fish Passage Improvement Program, Department of Fish and Game, NOAA Fisheries, Ducks Unlimited, Sutter Bypass Water Users Association, Butte Slough Irrigation Company, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The Group is developing the Sutter Bypass Eastside Channel Cooperative Restoration Approach to assist water users in complying with the Endangered Species Act and California Endangered Species Act.

There are three DWR facilities in the Sutter Bypass, in Sutter County: Weir No. 2, Willow Slough Weir, and the DWR pumping plants. Restoration activities at Weir No. 2 and Willow Slough Weir are discussed below. The Sutter Bypass Pumping Plants Fish Screening Project involves restoration activities at the DWR pumping plants.


Permitting for the Sutter Bypass East Borrow Canal Water Control Structures Project is currently being coordinated by DWR's Fish Passage Improvement Program. Replacement of the culverts and fish ladder at Willow Slough Weir was completed in 2010 and construction on Weir No. 2 is expected to begin in May 2011. The objectives of the Project are to:

  • Replace the existing manually operated Weir No. 2 flashboard structure with a remotely operated gate structure that is safer and more effective to operate.

  • Reconstruct the earthern Willow Slough Weir and replace its culverts to improve flow of water from the East Borrow Canal into Willow Slough.

  • Replace the fish ladders at both weirs to improve passage for migrating Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead (Onchorhynchus mykiss).

On June 16, 2008, FPIP submitted a Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration and Initial Study (MND/IS), pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), for the Sutter Bypass East Borrow Canal Water Control Structures Project to the State Clearinghouse. After the public review period ended, FPIP revised the MND/IS and added Appendix N, which includes comments pertaining to the proposed MND/IS and FPIP's responses to the comments. DWR certified the MND/IS and submitted a Notice of Determination (NOD) to the State Clearinghouse.

In 2009, DWR staff decided to recirculate the Proposed MND/IS for a 30-day public review period to disclose additional impacts and mitigation resulting from project changes. The comment period ended October 12, 2009 and the NOD (64 KB) was submitted to the Clearinghouse on October 19, 2009.

The final MND/IS, including Appendices, is listed below:

Mitigated Negative Declaration and Initial Study (12.8 MB)

    Appendix A.(18.2 MB) Weir 2 Preliminary Engineering Technical Report
    Appendix B. (7.5 MB) Willow Slough Weir Preliminary Technical Report
    Appendix C. (403 KB) Temporary Fish Passage at Willow Slough Weir
    Appendix D. (255 KB) Proposed filling of culvert at Willow Slough Weir
    Appendix E. (229 KB) Conservation Information on Giant Garter Snakes
    Appendix F. (38 KB) Previous Correspondence for the Proposed Project
    Appendix G. (291 KB) MOU Between the DFG and DWR's DFM
    Appendix H. (675 KB) Willow Slough Weir and Weir No. 2 Operations
    Appendix I. (213 KB) USFWS official species list for USGS quadrangles
    Appendix J. (203 KB) Fish Rescue Plan During Dewatering
    Appendix K. (286 KB) USFWS Giant Garter Snake Biological Opinion
    Appendix L. (73 KB) Mitigation and Monitoring Compliance
    Appendix M. (33 KB) Impact Avoidance and Minimization Measures
    Appendix N. (4.2 MB) Response to Comments

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