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

NEW! The Coho HELP Act sunset on December 31, 2017. Moving forward, small Coho Salmon restoration and enhancement projects can be submitted to the CDFW Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Program (HREA).

Thank you to those who participated in Coho Salmon habitat restoration through the Coho HELP Act.

The Coho HELP program went into affect on January 1, 2013. The legislation leading to this 5-year pilot program was in response to the continued decline of Coho Salmon, and the immediate need for stream habitat and passage improvements. Coho HELP was not a grants program. Parties interested in this alternative, permitting pathway were responsible for funding the projects.

The Coho HELP program was managed by Fisheries Branch, with assistance from Regional Fisheries and Habitat Conservation staff. Eighteen projects were completed from 2013 to 2018— two culvert removal projects, two streambank stabilization projects and 14 wood placement projects. All projects are located in CDFW Region One, north of the Gualala River (Figure 1). 

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


Coho HELP projects map

Figure 1: Coho HELP project types and locations. Click image to enlarge.

link opens in new windowComplete Coho Salmon HELP Projects List (PDF)

To learn more about the species, visit the Coho Salmon web page.

Program in Action!

SF Garcia River in Mendocino County was enhanced with large wood using the accelerated recruitment method.

stream devoid of wood

AFTER one winter:
Wood placement effects after first winter