Battle Creek Salmon & Steelhead Restoration

In 2009, Syblon Reid was awarded a contract to perform work on North Fork Screens and Ladders phase of the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project near the base of Mt. Lassen.

The purpose of the project was to restore habitat for wildlife and anadromous fish while minimizing the loss of clean renewable energy produced by Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project. The North Fork Screens and Ladders (NFSL) project consisted of work being performed at two separate sites simultaneously: the North Battle Creek Feeder Dam (NBCFD) and the Eagle Canyon Diversion Dam (ECDD). Both sites had difficult access and the work involved significant logistics challenges regarding manpower, equipment, and permanent materials due to the remote locations and distances from staging areas.

Construction at the NBCFD began with the clearing and grubbing of nearly 3 acres of heavily forested and extremely steep terrain. Due to late agency approval and permit time limit requirements, the dense forest land had to be precisely logged with special equipment, including a helicopter, within a narrow 5 day window. After being cleared, the access road was cut through a mass of volcanic rock requiring the removal of 4,000 cubic yards (CY) of material. The road provided access to the site for large equipment and allowed the positioning of a 130-ton all-terrain crane at the base of the newly cut road to hoist materials across the stream channel into the work area.

Work at the ECDD began with the construction of safe access along the existing ¼ mile steep and jagged path that hugged the near vertical canyon walls. Syblon Reid had a specially trained high scale crew suspended by ropes to remove loose rock on the canyon walls and then drill, cable, and anchor the remaining unstable rock outcroppings. Once the canyon walls were stabilized, suitable pedestrian access was established with the installation of elevated walkways that included concrete foundations, handrails, and stairs. All new access structures were placed above and around sensitive environmental areas in the canyon that required protection. All workers had to access the site via the trail with a 275-ton crane supporting all work in the blind 200-foot descent to the canyon floor.

Strict environmental permit conditions required that all in-stream work be completed by November 1st of each year. Resource permit conditions also prohibited contamination of the water by any aspect of the construction process, which required the construction of temporary diversion dams upstream of the work areas to create reservoirs that would support gravity fed bypass systems. Three 30-inch diameter pipes, elevated above the canyon floor, diverted water around the work area at each site on a 24/7 basis. While one pipe returned a predetermined volume of water back into the hydro conveyance system for continued power generation, each bypass also delivered flows downstream of the work areas to maintain stream releases required to support the aquatic habitat in compliance with the regulatory permit conditions.

Once water control systems were established, Syblon Reid began construction of the intricate reinforced concrete structures by breaching the existing dams so one-half of the structures could be removed to allow room for the new facilities. A total of 2,080 CY of rock and sediment material was removed from the two sites to allow for the placement of a total of over 1,750 CY of reinforced concrete. Syblon Reid then constructed concrete fish ladders to enable fish movement upstream of the dams, as well as new concrete structures containing elaborate fish screens designed to prohibit fish from entering the water conveyance systems that lead to several power generation facilities. As required, Syblon Reid completed all in-stream concrete structures and the installation of new diversion gates during the first construction year of 2010 so the sites could be fully operational for hydro generation during the winter months and comply with permit conditions.

Returning in 2011 for the second year, Syblon Reid completed final construction with the installation of the structural steel and mechanical systems; including fish screens with automated brush cleaners, underwater cameras with video monitoring equipment, electric and hydraulic gate actuators, trashracks, hoist and trolley systems, and electrical control panels and instrumentation. In addition, the NBCFD included a 130-foot long pedestrian bridge and a ½-ton jib crane.

SRC completed over 75,000 man-hours of high-hazard work ahead of schedule without a single loss time accident.

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