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

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. This five year program allows persons, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations to request approval from CDFW for a small coho salmon habitat enhancement project that measures less than 500 linear feet and 5 acres, and is 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 or stablilization of eroded or denuded streambanks using predominantly nonrock bioengineering practices and revegetating stream corridors with native riparian species.
  • Large wood placement that benefits naturally reproducing fish stocks by creating or enhancing fish habitat and/or increasing stream complexity.

If CDFW approves a project under the Coho HELP Act, the project proponent does not need to obtain any additional CDFW permit, license, or approval, including an incidental take permit under the California Endangered Species Act and Lake or Streambed Alteration (LSA). The applicant is responsible for attaining permitting from other state and federal agencies.

CDFW project consultation is highly recommended and encouraged prior to request submittal.

To submit a new project for consideration, please mail the Coho HELP Project Request (DFW 739; PDF) with attachments, along with the applicable fee to: Coho HELP Program; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; 830 S Street; Sacramento, CA 95811. You can also arrange to send your documents electronically.

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

Coho HELP Program

State Resource Documents

Federal Resources


Fisheries Branch
830 S Street, Sacramento, CA 95811 | (916) 327-8840

Program in Action!

SF Garcia River in Mendocino County was enhanced with large wood using the accelerated recruitment method. The addition of large wood increased the frequency of pools and complex cover for juvenile rearing, sorted and collected gravels for spawning, and provided velocity refuges from high flows.

stream devoid of wood

stream devoid of wood

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 before tree plantings):
stream with cement culvert