The Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund was established as part of an agreement for fisheries mitigation during the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) re-licensing of the Kern River Number 3 Hydroelectric Plant, which is located on the Upper Kern River near Kernville. It was established with an initial contribution of $2.5 million by Southern California Edison (SCE), and has grown to nearly $3.3 million while distributing more than $1.5 million in grants benefiting the Upper Kern River Basin.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was entered into between SCE and the State and Federal Resource Agencies that have an interest in the Upper Kern Basin: namely, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (previously the California Department of Fish and Game), the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These four signatories to the MOU constitute the Voting Members of the Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund Committee.
You can click on the following link to access the Upper Kern Basin Fishery Resource Enhancement Measures Implementation Memorandum of Understanding (Issued Sept. 27, 1995, and Amended Nov. 9, 2005).
As outlined in the MOU, the specific purpose of the Fund is to grant dollars to projects that support three priorities:
- Implementation of the Upper Kern Basin Fishery Management Plan;
- Restoration of the native Kern River rainbow trout;
- Other enhancements of fisheries resources in the Upper Kern Basin upstream from Isabella Lake in Kern and Tulare Counties
Grants to support these projects have totaled over $1.5 million since the Fund’s inception. Read about funded projects below:
Impact of Our Grantmaking
Some examples of the impact the Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund grants are making is evident in the reports and other information submitted by various grantees:
- U.S. Forest Service – Upper Kern Sanitation Improvements
- Kern River Conservancy – Return of the Kern – The production of an educational film called “Chasing Rainbows,” that aims to document the return of native trout to the Kern River, and that is part of this project, is unfortunately delayed due to the COVID-19 Crisis. We look forward to sharing the film in this space once it is complete, along with a Final Project Report. In the meantime, here is a teaser type trailer.
- California Trout – Why Meadows Matter Infographic
- California Trout – Meadow Restoration Habitat Impacts
- California Trout – Prioritizing Meadow Restoration for Kern River Rainbow Trout Recovery – Final Report Packet – Dec 2018
- Plumas Corporation – Fish Creek Bridge Channel Design Final Report Packet – Apr 2018
- California Trout – Restoring Kern River Rainbow Trout and Amphibian Habitat in Osa Creek and Meadow Final Report Packet – Dec 2017
- Trout Unlimited – Sequoia Prioritized Meadows Restoration Project Final Report Packet – Nov 2017
How to Apply for Funding
The period to apply for a Fall 2020 Grant from the Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund is closed. The period for applying for Spring 2021 funding will be from Dec. 1, 2020 through Jan. 15, 2021. Projects submitted for the Spring 2021 grant application round will be voted on in a meeting of the Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund Committee (“Committee”) to be held on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Meetings are open to the public and are usually held at the offices of Kern Community Foundation in Bakersfield; however, during the COVID-19 crisis, they are held virtually via Zoom and telephone. Anyone interested in attending may contact Louis@kernfoundation.org. Projects approved for funding by the Committee are submitted to the Board of Directors of Kern Community Foundation for final approval.
You can access the grant application through Kern Community Foundation’s Online Grants Platform. Projects that meet the following criteria will be eligible to apply for funding:
- Improve the status of the Kern River rainbow trout to avoid any need to list it as a sensitive, endangered, or threatened species at either the State or federal level;
- Contribute to meeting one or more of the objectives of the “Upper Kern Basin Fishery Management Plan.” The priority for accomplishing the objectives will be determined by the voting members of the Committee. These objectives include, but are not limited to:
– Hatchery development, maintenance, operations, and staffing specifically for the production of Kern River rainbow trout;
– Kern River rainbow trout genetic stock determinations and development;
– Habitat improvement for the Kern River rainbow trout;
– Stocking associated with the Kern River rainbow trout;
– Monitoring of Kern River rainbow trout and other native fish species populations; and,
– Monitoring of fish ladder closure impacts on pikeminnow and trout populations;
- Contribute to restoration or improvement of trout habitat in the Upper Kern Basin;
- Contribute to the improvement of the quality of the Upper Kern Basin water including the attainment and maintenance of water quality regulatory standards such as fecal coliform levels; and
- Other activities mutually approved by the Committee voting members.
Vision for the Future
Restoration of the Kern River rainbow trout to the Kern River to conserve species and support fishing.
- Updated Upper Kern Fisheries Management Plan and Conservation Strategy for Kern River rainbow trout.
- Information and education for the public regarding native trout and conservation ethics.
- Collection of and development of Kern River rainbow trout brood stock.
- Enhancement of the spawning and rearing habitat in the North Fork Kern and Kern River Restoration and enhancement of watershed and streams, improvement of water quality.
- Restoration of pure native Kern River rainbow trout to protected streams in the upper Kern and North Fork Kern by 2020.