Owens River Gorge Watershed

Gorge Rewatering Project

The Owens Gorge Rewatering Project is the Departmentís premier restoration program.  The Owens River through the Gorge is being rebuilt following 50 years of dewatering.  The innovative approaches to restoring ecosystem function in the Gorge have been a gold mine of information and new knowledge of natural processes.  The lessons learned in the Gorge are being translated to the Lower Owens River Project and other stream restoration efforts throughout the Valley.  Today, the Gorge brown trout fishery is without doubt the best trout fishery in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, and probably one of the best trout fisheries in the West.  Riparian habitat and biodiversity have exploded in the Gorge; bird species long absent from the ecosystem are returning to the Gorge in surprising numbers and variation.  

Threatened & Endangered Fish Sanctuary

In the course of the Gorge restoration project, the Department recognized that native fish, particularly the threatened and endangered Owens Tui Chub, must be an integral part of the management effort.  Consequently, the Department designated a reach of the Owens River immediately below Long Valley Dam as a sanctuary for Owens Tui Chub.  The plan is to allow the species to recover in a high quality, predator-free habitat for eventual re-introduction to the Owens Gorge.  The Department is currently working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, and other state and federal agencies in making the Owens Tui Chub sanctuary a reality.