Graduation Date

Spring 2017

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources: option Environmental Science and Management

Committee Chair Name

Alison O'Dowd

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

James Graham

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Darren Ward

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Science and Management


In Northern California’s Eel River watershed, the two dams that make up the Potter Valley Project (PVP) restrict the distribution and production of anadromous salmonids, and current populations of Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead trout (O. mykiss) in the upper mainstem Eel River are in need of recovery. In anticipation of the upcoming FERC relicensing of the PVP, this project provides an estimation of the extent of potential salmonid habitat and its capacity for steelhead trout and Chinook Salmon in the upper mainstem Eel River watershed above the impassable Scott Dam. Using three fish passage scenarios, potential Chinook Salmon habitat was estimated between 89-127 km (55-79 mi) for spawning and rearing; potential steelhead trout habitat was estimated between 318-463 km (198-288 mi) for spawning and between 179-291 km (111-181 mi) for rearing. Rearing habitat capacity was modeled with the Unit Characteristic Method, which used surrogate fish density values specific to habitat units (i.e. pools, riffles, runs) that were adjusted by measured habitat conditions. Redd capacity was modeled and resulted in up to ten times the number of spawners compared to those recruited from parr capacity estimates using life stage-specific survival rates. Capacity for rearing juveniles was suggested to be most limiting to production for both Chinook Salmon and steelhead trout, although more accurate survival rates for all life stages for each species is needed. Ample potential spawning habitat, however, suggests an opportunity for spawners to saturate the stream seedbank for egg recruits, and as rearing capacity is reached in the streams above Scott Dam, subsequent juveniles may then emigrate to non-natal habitat downstream of Scott Dam.


Original degree title: Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location