For decades, gravel and sand have been mined from river deposits in California. This has changed the course of rivers, making them straighter and faster, and leaving giant empty gravel pits near the banks.
Brian Cluer studies river flows for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
CLUER: "We've got several hundred acres of potential aquatic landscape, we've got an important river flowing by it. How might we reshape those several hundred acres, re-contour, move a lot of earth around, to create the optimally ecologically beneficial landscape."
For this project, Cluer is looking at how to smooth out and reincorporate several hundred acres of gravel pits back into the Russian River. That would create bends and wetland areas for salmon.
CLUER: "The reason wetlands are so important is that when they flood up in the winter that becomes an incredibly rich feeding opportunity for juveniles."
Reincorporating gravel pits into rivers has successfully created salmon habitat in parts of Oregon, Washington and Alaska.