Collaborative Aquatic Landscape Restoration
The Forest Service manages more than 400,000 miles of streams and around 3 million acres of lakes across 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. These waters are vital sources of clean drinking water for millions of Americans. The streams, rivers, ponds and lakes also support vital habitat for native fish and other aquatic organisms, including habitat for more than 140 threatened and endangered aquatic and amphibian species.
The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act establishes the Collaborative Landscape Restoration Program, a remarkable opportunity to fund essential projects and to complete high priority projects on federal and non-federal land to improve water quality or restore passage for fish and other aquatic organisms.
The Forest Service has announced a total of $25.5 million in investments to eleven proposals over the next five years. The eleven proposals have received $5.6 million in FY 2022 and will receive the remaining $19.9 million through FY 26. The eleven proposals include 89 projects that will restore over 600 miles of waterways and improve 28 priority watersheds, address 15,000 acres of soil and water resources improvement needs, and enhance over 500 miles of stream habitat.
The $25.5 million announced in the first phase is an initial investment. In FY 23, the agency will initiate the next phase of solicitation and selection and will identify additional proposals to be funded through FY 26.
News and Announcements
Funded Proposals by State
- Chugach Natl Forest, Alaska, Resurrection Creek Collaborative Aquatic Landscape Restoration Action Plan – FY22: $220,000
Resurrection Creek Collaborative Aquatic Landscape Restoration Action Plan will improve over 14 miles of valuable salmon and trout habitat and 72 acres of riparian forests and floodplains that were severely altered by a century of hydraulic and placer dredge mining, as well as improve access to popular recreational areas, treat invasive plants, and remove hazardous fuels. Resurrection Creek is highly valued by anglers and miners alike and both are interested in seeing this stream restored to a more naturally functioning condition. This restoration plan will create a more naturally functioning stream ecosystem by adding dozens of large log jams and creating a naturally sinuous and functioning watershed. At the same time, riparian forests would be revegetated with native trees and shrubs, and interpretive areas would be created to describe the rich history of the area.
- Coconino National Forest, Oak Creek Watershed Restoration – FY2022: $80,000
Oak Creek is one of the largest tributaries to the Verde River, which provides important water to Phoenix. Increased public use has degraded this perennial stream. Excessive unauthorized trails impair water quality through increased sedimentation. Fecal matter near waterways results in E. coli in surface waters. Poor ground cover and soil conditions affect riparian habitat for listed species.
Implementation of the Oak Creek Watershed Restoration Action Plan includes the removal of unauthorized parking areas, social trails, and roads; development of recreation sites to minimize high-use impacts; and construction of a low-water crossing with aquatic organism passage.
- Cleveland National Forest, Cleveland National Forest Aquatic Organism Passage Project – FY2022: $2,670,000
Since 2010, the Cleveland National Forest has been working on a fish passage project involving six creek systems in three watersheds in Orange and San Diego counties, California. The focus of this project is the restoration of fish passage and enhancement of stream health by replacing 3 concrete fords with bridges, to complete an on-going fish passage project. The project constructs bridges that can better accommodate the larger flood flows that are occurring with climate change. These stream systems represent some of the very few streams without major municipal dams in Southern California, and their restoration is expected to contribute substantially to recovery of the endangered southern steelhead in San Diego and Orange Counties. Other species of concern that are present in these streams include Arroyo Chub, the endangered Arroyo Toad, and California Coast Range Newt.
- Pike-San Isabel National Forest and Cimarron and Comanche National Grassland, Eleven Mile Canyon and Lower Lake George Watershed Health Improvement Program – FY2022: $500,000
The South Park Ranger District has worked with multiple partners to plan for and develop adaptive watershed improvement projects within the South Platte River and Tributary watersheds downstream from Eleven Mile Reservior. These watersheds are identified as high wildfire risks as well as high resource values such as municipal water quality and wild trout waters. Partners include Colorado Springs Utilities, Denver Water, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado State Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Trout Unlimited, as well as other various non-profit organizations, local municipalities, and adjacent private landowners. Projects include the removal of the Lake George Dam, a low-head diversion structure at the mouth of Eleven Mile Canyon, on the mainstem of the South Platte River, restoring approximately 50 miles of fish passage and an estimated 50 miles of water quality improvements.
- Shawnee National Forest, Kinkaid Lake Watershed Restoration Action Plan Projects – FY2022: $56,200.
Kinkaid Lake provides potable drinking water to surrounding communities, serving over 30,000 people, as well as recreation opportunities for nearby residents and visitors. Kinkaid Lake Watershed Restoration Action Plan addresses gully mitigation, shoreline erosion control, and lake riparian habitat enhancement to decrease sedimentation and improve the health of riparian areas. Of major concern in the Kinkaid Lake area is the amount and rate of sediment entering the lake. Since the mid-1990's, partnership efforts have protected several miles of shoreline and stabilized thousands of feet of gullies in the watershed. However, there are still thousands of feet of actively eroding gullies, degraded trails, and degraded riparian habitat in the watershed. Projects are important to climate resilience as more frequent, intense storms increase erosion, sedimentation, nutrient inputs to streams and reservoirs, and risk of algal blooms.
- Ottawa National Forest, Upper East Branch Ontonagon Priority Watershed Restoration – FY2022: $300,000
Upper East Branch Ontonagon Priority Watershed Restoration plan implements projects in three adjacent priority watersheds in the Upper East Branch Ontonagon River. The Ottawa National Forest in partnership with Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy aims to improve connected habitat in this watershed. Changing water temperatures, due to climate change and the conditions of the local watershed, are at risk of no longer supporting native species. The Lower Dam Removal Project will improve stream function and benefit cold-water communities by providing access to 6.8 miles of high-quality habitat. Riparian vegetation enhancement projects will maintain cold-water habitat by planting long-lived conifer species in riparian zones.
- Custer Gallatin National Forest, Shields River Watershed Restoration Project – FY2022: $550,000.
The Shields River and its tributaries form an extensive stream system with historic habitat for native Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout. The approved aquatic organism passage projects will be the final essential projects needed to complete the Watershed Restoration Action Plan and an overall massive restoration effort which will allow native trout and other organisms to access higher elevation reaches and increase resiliency to climate change impacts on stream temperature. Restoration of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout will begin in July of 2022 with expected completion in 2024.
- Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Conservation Strategy for Bull Trout on National Forest System lands
in Western Montana – FY2022: $107,471
The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is partnering with Trout Unlimited and a larger coalition of stakeholders including Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, Montana Natural Resource Damage Program, Butte-Silver Bow County, and private landowners to implement cooperative projects to retrofit and rebuild irrigation and industrial diversion infrastructure to protect native fish including bull trout and Westslope cutthroat trout at five project locations over the next five years. Warm Springs Creek represent the greatest length of stream in the Upper Clark Fork Core Area, including six spawning reaches in five streams, for local populations of Bull trout.
Habitat fragmentation, isolation of local populations from other populations and the presence of hybridizing and competing species are the main limiting factors to bull trout populations. The Warm Springs Creek Fish Passage Restoration Project will reconnect more than 60 miles of Threatened and Endangered Species Act-listed critical bull trout habitat at the headwaters of the Clark Fork River.
- Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Grand Ronde Headwaters Restoration Partnership – FY2022: $579,411
The Grande Ronde Headwaters Restoration Partnership, built upon 30 years of shared stewardship restoration with 18 county, state, federal, tribal and NGO partners, will restore 129 miles of stream, 496 acres of riparian, wet meadow, floodplain, and upland habitat, and restore fish passage to more than 45 miles of habitat. CALR 2022 funds will be used immediately to restore 15.5 miles of Threatened and Endangered Species Act-critical fish habitat identified in recovery plans, including Snake River Basin Spring Chinook, Snake River Bas summer steelhead, and Columbia River bull trout.
- El Yunque National Forest, Ríos Espíritu Santo and Mameyes Restoration Plan – FY2022: $112,418
The Ríos Espíritu Santo and Mameyes Restoration Plan addresses many issues affecting water quality for three adjacent watersheds. Funded activities will complete an inventory of aquatic barriers in the forest and downstream, followed by the removal of barriers and restoration of riparian vegetative habitat. The plan also includes removing invasive plants and plant riparian trees within the riparian buffer zones to decrease sedimentation, improve water quality, and enhance composition. The project will integrate educational efforts to enhance knowledge and modify behaviors of people in local communities regarding their connection to their drinking water. The focus is to improve water quality by having less trash entering streams and decrease the frequency of vehicles driving in streams.
This plan complements an existing Joint Chief project to plant 5,000 rare trees across northeastern Puerto Rico. This plan implements components of the northeastern regional corridor plan for aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, and people. This will be the first corridor to connect ridge to reef, improving environmental justice and drinking water quality.
- Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Upper Bear River Watershed Restoration – FY2022: $472,500
The Upper Bear River Watershed Restoration Plan will restore fish passage on 58 miles of rivers and streams that have culverts and diversion structures that block the passage of aquatic organisms, and address water quality issues on 75 miles of streams by using a combination of low-tech process-based stream restoration techniques, road reconstruction and realignment, and off-channel ponds. These activities will protect, maintain, or improve a total of over 9,500 acres of water or soil resources. The Upper Bear River is an important conservation area for native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout, Northern Leatherside Chub, and Bluehead Sucker.
Project implementation is a collaborative effort between the Forest Service and partners including Trout Unlimited, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, City of Evanston, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Wyoming Department of Game and Fish, Utah State University’s Restoration Consortium, Western Native Trout Initiative, Open Rivers Fund, and numerous private landowners.