California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Coho Salmon Habitat Enhancement Leading to Preservation Act
(Coho HELP Act)

Program in Action!

In July 2014, the SF Garcia River was enhanced with wood using the accelerated recruitment method. This method, used on remote timber company land, carefully chooses trees to fell directly into the stream. Wood in the stream provides instant cover for rearing young fish. After high flows, placed wood helps redistribute gravels creating and enhancing pools.


stream devoid of wood


same reach with wood added

AFTER one winter:

Wood placement effects after first winter

In September, 2014 a culvert/flashboard dam was removed and the streambed restored in Parks Creek, tributary to Shasta River. This passage improvement project opened an additional four miles of stream to adult and juvenile salmon and steelhead.

BEFORE (looking downstream):

stream with cement culvert

AFTER (looking upstream):

stream with cement culvert removed

Fish and Game Code Section 6950 et seq.

On January 1, 2013, the Coho Salmon Habitat Enhancement Leading to Preservation Act, or Coho HELP Act, went into effect.  The Coho HELP Act allows persons, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations to request approval from CDFW for a “coho salmon habitat enhancement project,” defined as a restoration project in a region described in an adopted state or federal coho salmon recovery plan with the primary purpose of accomplishing one or more of the following:

  • The removal of a road crossing and/or the replacement of a culvert either of which prevents, impedes, or tends to prevent or impede the passing of fish up and down stream.
  • The restoration of eroded or denuded streambanks using predominantly nonrock bioengineering practices and revegetating stream corridors with native riparian species focused on promoting tree establishment along the active channel and on streambanks for the purposes of bank stabilization, bank development, and live wood complexity.
  • Wood placement that benefits naturally reproducing fish stocks by creating or enhancing fish habitat and/or increasing stream complexity.

Updated instructions
If CDFW approves a project under the act, the project proponent does not need to obtain any CDFW permit, license, or approval for the project, including, but not limited to, an incidental take permit under the California Endangered Species Act (Fish & G. Code, § 2050 et seq.) and a lake or streambed alteration agreement under Fish and Game Code section 1600 et seq.

To request CDFW approval of a project under the act, the project proponent must submit to CDFW a Coho HELP Act Project Request Application (DFW 739) in accordance with the instructions to complete the form, and the applicable project fee.

For more information regarding the Coho HELP Act and CDFW’s review and approval of Coho HELP Act projects, please contact:

Mary Olswang: (916) 445-7633 or
Kevin Shaffer: (916) 327-2241 or