The course is held at Sagehen Creek Field Station, combining a beautiful natural setting with excellent research facilities, such as an outdoor classroom, stream table to demonstrate channel adjustments, on-site laboratory, and Sagehen Creek, with its rich history of research in fluvial geomorphology and ecology.  Instructors are drawn from multiple disciplines, and from both research and practice.

Our five-day introductory course emphasizes understanding geomorphic and ecological process as a sound basis for planning and designing river restoration. It covers general principles and case studies from a wide range of environments. Incorporating insights from recent research in fluvial geomorphology and ecology, the course emphasizes developing predictive connections between objectives and actions, learning from built restoration projects, and developing restoration strategies and innovative management approaches to address underlying causes of channel or ecosystem change, rather than prescriptive approaches.

Registration: Please see link below for details and to register.

Instructors | Registration, fees, travel | Text & Materials | Agenda

Read about the Sagehen Field Station near Lake Tahoe, CA

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Watch the following 1-minute video to get a flavor for the course.

The course integrates perspectives from leading academic researchers and consulting practitioners in river restoration. Lectures, exercises, field trips and case studies cover a range of restoration approaches from state-of-the-art hydraulics and sediment transport, to historical analysis and context-specific considerations ranging from urban infrastructure to natural resources. In addition to field data collection techniques, the course uses spreadsheet models to calculate sediment transport and channel design, map and aerial photo analysis, and sequential problem solving in approaching restoration of fluvial processes. The course includes field trips to the Truckee River and streams in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and workshops on restoration problems faced by participants for discussion where we develop ideas on analytical approaches and recommend resources.

This course emphasizes integration of hydrology, hydraulics, sediment transport, geomorphology, aquatic ecology, fisheries, and riparian ecology, and includes field measurements, mapping, and interpretation.

This course is brought to you by RiverLab at the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.

For a more specialized course intended for those who wish to understand and apply the principles of sediment transport to alluvial channel assessment and design, we recommend the short course on Sediment Transport in Stream Assessment and Design taught at Utah State University, Logan. Principles of open channel flow and sediment transport are combined with watershed-scale, hydrologic and sediment source analysis to place channel assessment and design in the appropriate context. This course builds upon the principles of river geomorphology taught in the Sagehen course.  Its lead instructor (Peter Wilcock) is co-instructor of the Sagehen course.

COVID-19 considerations:  Based on improving vaccination trends, we plan to offer the course again in 2023, in person. Requirements will be determined by public health guidelines in effect in August 2023, but may include wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, limiting how many people stay in cabins overnight or use the bathrooms at the same time, and mandatory vaccination prior to attending the course. Virtually all activities are already held outdoors anyway, but to minimize the possibility of virus spreading, we may limit the number of people occupying each cabin, and ask others to pitch tents on the station grounds (about half of the participants each year pitch tents anyway, as it is a very nice environment for camping).

Cancellations, Refunds, and Substitutions: A cancellation by June 15 will receive a full refund minus $500.  A cancellation after June 15 will receive a full refund minus $500 if a replacement student can be found, but no refund if no replacement is found. Most years we have a waiting list, so replacements can usually be found given sufficient notice. Substitutions are accepted and encouraged.

In the unfortunate event that the course must be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances, including but not limited to wildfire, smoke, COVID or other public health concerns, participants have the option to ‘roll over’ their registration to the next year’s course at no charge. (Please confirm your intention to “roll over” registration by December 31 of the course year.)  We hope we don’t have to cancel the course, and if we do, we hope you can simply “roll over” to the following year.  If you do not wish to roll over your registration to the following year, you can receive a refund minus an administrative fee of $500, which is unfortunately necessary due to the high administrative costs of processing refunds – which requires establishing you as a ‘vendor’ in the system and multiple approvals.


The Sagehen River Restoration Shortcourse and the College of Environmental Design of UC Berkeley more broadly are committed to attracting talented students with diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences and perspectives. We strive to cultivate an inclusive environment for our faculty and students that respect and reflect the diverse communities in which we live and work.
The intellectual exchange of ideas, learning to interact effectively with each other, and developing attitudes of responsibility for leadership in society and decision-making, are enhanced through a student community that respects and values the insights gained from various points of view. We welcome all participants to the Sagehen River Restoration Shortcourse and welcome you to join our community!