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2021 Floodplain Science & Management Symposium

The Sacramento River Science Partnership (SRSP) hosted a virtual Floodplain Science and Management Symposium focused on the Sacramento River watershed on October 13-15, 2021. Decision-makers, managers, scientists, and project proponents from across state and federal resource agencies, academic institutions, NGOs, and landowning and growing communities joined over Zoom in conversation about floodplains’ role in salmonid recovery and management questions related to more intensively managed floodplain projects. Other stakeholders and community members interested in listening and learning watched the presentation via livestream.

Scroll down to find links to recordings of the event, presentation slides, and background materials.

The OBJECTIVES of the symposium were to:

  • Share floodplain science research – including work on flood bypasses and agricultural fields as well as more natural floodplains – to build a joint understanding of floodplain ecological function and its relationship with salmonid and green sturgeon recovery;

  • Identify existing gaps in knowledge related to the role of floodplains in successful recovery for salmonids and green sturgeon in the Sacramento River watershed; 

  • Explore lessons learned from existing floodplain habitat projects and recent permitting efforts in the Sacramento watershed, and the tools and methodologies currently used to evaluate benefits and potential risks of management actions to salmonids and green sturgeon; and

  • Inform a management conversation about what additional information and/or metrics for monitoring and evaluation are needed to assess, scale, and adaptively manage more intensively managed floodplain projects to benefit salmonids and green sturgeon at a population scale.

AGENDA: The agenda is linked here.

  • The first portion of the symposium (on October 13 and the morning of October 14)  focused on building a joint understanding of the state of floodplain science in the context of the salmonid life cycle.

  • The remaining portion of the symposium (October 14 and the morning of October 15)  focused on the management context in which this science is being used, including exploring questions resource agencies and other stakeholders have about assessing the benefits and risks of management actions on floodplains to salmonids and green sturgeon, the tools and methodologies currently used to evaluate those benefits and risks, and what has been learned from completed and ongoing floodplain management activities.


  • Recordings of all three days of the event are available on YouTube:

  • The presentation slides are organized according to agenda topic and linked below: 


Floodplain Science Summary

Summary of Ecological and Physical Conditions Characterizing Sacramento River Floodplain Habitats and Importance for Anadromous Fish

This paper summarizes the state of the science regarding the function and role of floodplains in aquatic ecosystems in general, and specifically their role with respect to anadromous salmonids and sturgeon in the Sacramento Valley and portions of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It was drafted by staff at Anchor QEA in collaboration with the Planning Committee.

NMFS White Paper

NMFS’ White Paper on Central Valley Floodplain Management for Salmon:  Considerations for Balancing Food Web Productivity and Fish Viability

First distributed in 2019, NMFS lightly revised and condensed this paper for the Floodplain Symposium. The purpose of this document is to advance the dialogue with scientists, restoration practitioners, other agencies, and stakeholders by summarizing current science, outlining areas of agreement and disagreement, and recommending considerations to help make choices about active versus passive floodplain restoration design.

Managed Floodplain Design Criteria

CDFW and DWR Managed Floodplain Design Criteria and Considerations (September 2020)

This document was referenced in multiple of the Thursday and Friday management-focused talks by NMFS and CDFW staff. The document is a collaborative effort between California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to identify key attributes for optimizing juvenile salmonid rearing habitat in managed agricultural floodplains, while providing for adult passage.

List of Floodplain Science Documents

This is a collaboratively compiled list of published papers germane to Sacramento Valley floodplains (habitat, ecosystem function, use by salmonids, etc.) and not meant to be inclusive of all relevant science. This list is being provided to the community as a tool to facilitate access to peer-reviewed and gray literature on these topics but without endorsement of the contents. We encourage attendees to add any additional relevant papers to the spreadsheet.


California Department of Fish and Wildlife Document Library

This online library contains fish rescue reports for Fremont Weir-Yolo Bypass and Tisdale Weir-Tisdale-Sutter Bypass. 


NMFS Fish Passage Guidelines and Other Related Resources

Please email to be added to the event notification list.

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