Butte Creek Watershed

Butte Creek is a tributary to the Sacramento River located primarily in Butte County with smaller portions in Tehama, Glenn, Colusa, and Sutter Counties, California. Butte Creek supports one of three remaining Sacramento River tributaries that harbor self-sustaining (independent) populations of Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon (SRCS). SRCS are listed as threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act. Adult SRCS begin their upstream spawning migration to Butte Creek as early as January and continue through June (depending on the water year). After migration, adults hold within approximately 11 miles of cool deep canyon pools near Chico and Paradise until September when they move to riffle complexes with substrate conducive to redd development and spawning. Spawning habitat is found within an approximate 14.5-mile stretch of Butte Creek from the upstream most barrier at Quartz Bowl Pool downstream to Parrott-Phelan Diversion Dam (PPDD).

The first written record of salmon in Butte Creek was by G. H Clark in 1929 (Clark, 1929).  Clark in referring to Butte Creek stated “… has been known as a very fine salmon stream and as a good spawning ground”.

Huell Howeser with carcass survey crew.
Courtesy of Tracy McReynolds (CDFW)
Spring Run Chinook Salmon Holding in Upper Butte Creek
Photo Credit: Zeke Lunder (Creative Commons)
Spring-run Chinook salmon holding in Quartz Bowl pool
Courtesy of David Little (Chico Enterprise Record)
Spring-run Chinook salmon migrating past Parrott-Phelan diversion dam.
Courtesy of Scott McReynolds (DWR)
Spring-run Chinook yearling.
Courtesy of Tracy McReynolds (CDFW)
  • Monitoring Programs
  • Butte Creek Watershed Map
  • Reports
  • Daily Catch Data