California’s two primary salmon species, Coho and Chinook, have experienced significant declines from historical populations.
Of particular importance is the Chinook salmon because the species supports commercial fishing and related jobs and economic activities at fish hatcheries.
The decline in salmon numbers is attributed to a variety of manmade and natural factors including drought, habitat destruction, water diversions, migratory obstacles created by local, state and federal water projects, over-fishing, unfavorable ocean conditions, pollution and introduced predator species. Wetlands have also been drained and diked; dams have blocked salmon from reaching historic spawning grounds.
Years of declining populations represent a significant economic loss and have led to federally mandated salmon restoration plans that complicate water diversions and conveyance for agriculture and other uses.
Local tribes’ say critically important dam water releases meant to protect threatened salmon on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic disease outbreaks are being contested by irrigators and water districts in the Klamath Basin as they face drought conditions.
Federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout respond to the rains, which create runoff and are a natural invitation for the fish to begin swimming from the oceans upstream into creeks to spawn in the Lagunitas Creek watershed. In December — a key month for coho migration — just .31 of an inch of rain fell in the county as measured by the Marin Municipal Water District.
While the orcas of Puget Sound are sliding toward extinction, orcas farther north have been expanding their numbers. Their burgeoning hunger for big fish may be causing the killer whales’ main prey, Chinook salmon, to shrink up and down the West Coast.
State and local fishing industry officials and regulators were united on Thursday in bashing the Trump administration’s plans to allow new offshore oil drilling in federal waters, saying it would add to the many threats the state’s fisheries are facing.
A group of Klamath Basin water users Wednesday filed a motion in federal court in San Francisco pushing for at least a delay in the court-ordered injunction to keep 50,000 acre feet held in reserve in Upper Klamath Lake. The water is to be used to flush out the Klamath River in the spring to mitigate the impact of disease on coho salmon.
For the past 80 years life has only gotten worse for winter-run chinook salmon. When Shasta and Keswick dams were built on the Sacramento River, they kept the salmon from getting to their ancestral spawning grounds, while smaller dams and diversions also were constructed on other streams where the salmon once spawned.
Seeking to stave off the extinction of a storied species, state and federal wildlife officials are releasing 200,000 hatchery-raised salmon into a restored High Sierra creek where once-magnificent winter runs were wiped out over the past century.
Alaskan fishing guide Jason Lesmeister stopped fishing for Chinook salmon more than a decade ago. The population, he said, “plummeted” on the Kenai River, his main fishing ground and a watershed renowned for producing enormous Chinooks, also called king salmon. But the fish aren’t just less abundant today. They’re also noticeably smaller.
Anglers hoping to catch Chinook salmon this year along the San Francisco Bay and in the Central Valley’s rivers are likely to see curtailed fishing seasons, due to poor fish numbers linked to California’s historic five-year drought.
After reviewing the Karuk Tribe’s November petition to recognize the spring-run salmon as a separate species from its fall-run counterparts and to list them as an endangered species, the National Marine Fisheries Service this week found the tribe’s request “may be warranted.” The federal agency will now begin a 12-month review before making a final decision on the tribe’s requests.
A third straight year of low king salmon runs is expected to deliver another blow to one of the North Coast’s most iconic and lucrative fisheries, wildlife managers indicated Thursday, as both regulators and fishermen faced the prospect of a federally mandated plan to reverse the trend and rebuild key stocks.
Three Republican U.S. House members are criticizing Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and other lawmakers for opposing their legislation that would prevent the breaching of four dams on the Snake River to restore endangered salmon runs.
Federal fisheries officials said Tuesday they will consider putting the Pacific Northwest’s once-flourishing wild spring-run Chinook salmon on the list of threatened or endangered species. The National Marine Fisheries Services plans a 12-month review on whether to give protected status to the salmon in and around the Klamath River.
A drought year similar to 2015’s dry conditions are anticipated by the Klamath Irrigation District, and without the financial resources available in 2015, as well as at least a week delay in water delivery to Klamath Project irrigators in April, according to Ty Kliewer, board president, on Friday.
As work to restore the San Joaquin River continues, scientists are seeing promising signs that salmon can thrive in the river as hatchery fish reach new milestones. A recent breakthrough came in fall 2017, when spring-run Chinook salmon created their nests, called redds, in the deeper and colder parts of the river below Friant Dam.
The Eel River was once home to one of the largest salmon populations on the West Coast. But for nearly a century, a large share of its flow has been diverted for hydroelectric power and irrigation, helping build Northern California into a world powerhouse of winemaking. … So it should come as no surprise that the prospect of ending those water diversions is stirring concern across the region.
The project is called the Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields Project. It’s part of a greater effort to restore threatened fish species — the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program. The project comes at a key time: A recent UC Davis study suggests that winter run chinook salmon could go extinct if efforts to recover the species aren’t taken up.
The federal government’s top fisheries experts say that three widely used pesticides — including the controversial insecticide chlorpyrifos — are jeopardizing the survival of many species of salmon, as well as orcas that feed on those salmon. It’s a fresh attack on a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency was ready to take off the market a year ago — until the Trump administration changed course.
The U.S. government will temporarily stop killing beavers in Oregon after environmental groups threatened a lawsuit alleging the practice reduces the number of dams that create deep pools that are ideal habitat for young, endangered coho salmon.
In a new study published this week in Biological Conservation, researchers from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, NOAA Fisheries, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used salmon otolith (“earstone”) chemistry to reveal the migration patterns and secret hang out spots used by juvenile winter run on their way to the ocean.
Come with us as we venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
A team of researchers and Marysville rice farmers initiated a study this week in Yuba County to see if introducing fish to a flooded rice field could both reduce methane emissions and allow for a new reliable protein source.
Biologists assumed baby winter-run Chinook salmon hung out in the Sacramento River where they hatched until they grew large enough to make the trip downstream to the Pacific Ocean. A recently released scientific study challenges that assumption – and may have implications in how fisheries agencies manage Sacramento Valley waterways to protect the critically endangered fish.
It could be a record year for salmon on the Mokelumne River, but not without some extraordinary human intervention. More than 15,200 adult salmon had returned to the fish hatchery below Camanche Dam as of last week. … This year’s strong return is good news in part because it shows how changes in hatchery operations can help fish survive the aftermath of a devastating drought.
It appears this is an average year for the number of fall-fun Chinook Salmon returning to spawn in the American River. The numbers were expected to be much lower because of high water temperatures and predators when the fish were juveniles heading to the ocean during the drought.
A fish species rarely seen south of Washington state has turned up more than 700 miles away in Lagunitas Creek, part of what has been dubbed a strange beginning to the spawning season. In recent years attention on the Lagunitas Creek watershed has been focused on federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout, with efforts made to restore habitat to help those fish.
Thousands of salmon make the grueling journey from the Pacific Ocean up the American River each fall. The spawning run ends for many with a whack on the head at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, where salmon eggs are gathered and fertilized.
Salmon and steelhead trout are migrating to the Mokelumne River just east of Lodi in what could be record numbers. … Abundant rainfall last year helped to release more water from Camanche Reservoir to help move the salmon up the river.
Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply. All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. This year, special attention will be paid to the flood event at Oroville Dam and the efforts to repair the dam spillway before the next rainy season.
This 3-day, 2-night tour travels across the Sacramento Valley and follows the river north from Sacramento through Chico to Redding and Lake Shasta, where participants take a houseboat ride.
Last spring, the outlook for California’s 2017 Chinook salmon fishing season was dire. Years of drought had taken a toll on the rivers where salmon spawn, reducing them to lukewarm trickles. As a result, the number of adult fish was seriously depleted, reported scientists with the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
They may not have been salivating, but fishers were definitely savoring the moment Wednesday when 160,000 finger-size baby salmon were poured from a tube out of a tanker truck into a net pen at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay.
Salmon crowded in and around the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery on Thursday, offering leaping and squiggling proof of what so far is a near-record return of the big pinkish delicacies after several years of low breeding numbers. … The Mokelumne, one of California’s major salmon-producing rivers, flows from the Sierra foothills through the Central Valley.
The Klamath River is the site of what could be the largest dam removal project in the nation’s history, but there are still several hurdles to jump before the dams come down and many more if they do. Fortuna resident Neil Palmer was one of more than 40 people who attended an open house at Eureka’s Adorni Center on Thursday evening to learn more about the now 7-year-old project.
The Bristol Bay watershed, in southwest Alaska, comprises 40,000 square miles of bogs and evergreen forests, rimmed by distant mountains and shimmering with rivers and feeder streams. In these waterways, miracles happen. Together they sustain the largest remaining salmon fishery on Earth.
Removing Shasta Dam is the single best action we can take to save California’s wild salmon. Not possible, you say? Then there are two alternatives. One is to provide plenty of cold water and diverse, highly managed habitat below dams. The other is to transport fish to now-inaccessible habitat above dams.
The specter of rain washing potentially toxic ash from thousands of burned homes into sensitive Sonoma County watersheds has injected a new sense of urgency to local fire cleanup efforts, with the immediate focus shifting to erosion control needed to safeguard water quality.
State regulators and fishing officials said at a Eureka hearing on Friday that only by working together can they overcome the trials and uncertainty that several California’s fisheries face today. … The federal government declared a fishery disaster in January for the 2015-2016 California Dungeness crab season and the Yurok Tribe’s 2016 salmon season because of season delays and poor catch.
In Southern California, the mountain yellow-legged frog, of which there were about 400 living in remote, drying streams in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains, could face a hard winter after fires destroyed their habitat.
Over the past several weeks crews have been out on Whiskeytown Lake repairing the temperature curtains in the water near the Visitors Center. … The curtains are an important part of the bureau’s Central Valley Project, which includes Trinity and Lewiston dams and Shasta and Keswick dams.
For many homeowners in Sonoma and Napa counties, nothing could have been more welcome than the splashing of rain that fell on Northern California last Thursday – the first significant precipitation in about five months.
With the California crab season opener approaching and a poor salmon season winding down, a California legislative committee is set to meet in Eureka on Friday to discuss what the future holds for two of the North Coast’s most important fisheries.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration think two main factors caused low numbers of spring-run chinook salmon to return this year: drought and abnormally warm temperatures.
Fisheries officials plan to turn a series of ponds in the Henderson Open Space into a side channel of the Sacramento River that will be used for salmon rearing habitat. The Western Shasta Resource Conservation District plans to excavate the channels and connect them to the river, creating a safe space for young salmon and other fish.
This fall, the number of chinook salmon making their way from the ocean up the Klamath River in the far northwest corner of California is the lowest on record. That’s devastating news for the Yurok tribe, which has lived along and fished the Klamath for centuries.
When Bay Area steelhead were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1997, [Jeff] Miller suddenly had a lot of help realizing his dream of restoring migratory fish in the Bay Area. … Since then, local, state and federal agencies and organizations have collaborated on restoring steelhead in Alameda Creek.
The owners of Don Pedro Reservoir made their pitch Tuesday for how it can serve both people and Tuolumne River fish over the next half-century. The boards of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts each voted 5-0 at separate meetings to submit their final application for a new federal license for the project.
The number of salmon returning to spawn at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson could reach historic lows this year — a legacy of the five-year drought that ended last year. At this time of year dozens of salmon would normally be teeming in the waters of Battle Creek near the hatchery.
Where are all the fish? That’s what hatchery workers are wondering, left scratching their heads after seeing low levels for spring-run Chinook salmon – about a third of the average for this time period.
Scientists at U.C. Davis have found a genetic distinction between Chinook salmon that migrate in spring and fall. That has a Northern California tribe calling to make spring Chinook an endangered species. But some farmers are skeptical.
It’s not every day that logging practices are put to use to restore salmon habitat. But for the past two weeks along the foggy, redwood-strewn banks of San Vicente Creek that’s exactly what has been taking place.
Documents filed with state regulators show that a fish farm that broke apart Aug. 19 in the San Juan Islands released more than 160,000 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into Washington state waters — far more than the original estimate — and that the holding pen for the fish was “due for complete replacement.” … The accident prompted state and Native tribal officials to declare a fish emergency.
The state of Washington is calling all fishermen to catch unlimited farmed Atlantic salmon with no size or weight limits after a net pen broke last week, allowing thousands of the non-native fish to escape into the open ocean.
A coalition of government agencies and advocates for sustainable fisheries came together Tuesday to launch a long-term effort to save California’s beleaguered salmon populations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems. … The partnership deal was signed Tuesday by John Laird, California’s secretary for natural resources.
Investigators have confirmed that a federal water agency misspent $32 million in funds meant to protect fish and wildlife in the Klamath basin of California and Oregon, a finding that Obama-era officials attempted to sideline after whistleblowers first alerted them to it.
A study published Wednesday by researchers at UC Davis may have major conservation implications for salmon in California and the Pacific Northwest. The study provides new evidence that “springers” and other salmon that migrate upstream from the ocean to spawn early in the year are genetically different than later migrating populations.
A dismal salmon run in the Klamath River has forced the Yurok Tribe — which normally catches its salmon from the Klamath River — to purchase the fish from an outside source for its annual Salmon Festival on Saturday.
The state Department of Water Resources is beginning to lay the gravel foundation for spawning salmon. This comes as much of the gravel was washed away with high flows from the Oroville Dam spillway this winter.
Congressional appropriation committees are considering whether to provide millions of dollars in disaster relief funds to West Coast fishing fleets as part of the 2018 federal budget. … The disaster declaration made in January by then-U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker includes California’s Dungeness and rock crab fishery as well as the Yurok Tribe’s Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery.
Another troubling sign of the poor state of this year’s Pacific Ocean salmon runs was discovered on one the Klamath River’s tributaries after an annual fish survey counted the second lowest number of spring-run Chinook salmon on record.
The State Water Resources Control Board announced in September that it plans to return the San Joaquin River to 40 percent of its “unimpaired flow.” … The goal, according to the water board, is to rebalance water demand on the state’s second-largest river. … The board plans a similar process for the Sacramento River, the state’s largest river.
With New Zealand’s Southern Alps looming above, about 30 members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe from Northern California sat on the windswept bank of the Rakaia River cradling in their hands dark and wormy salmon fry, a long-lost relative finally found. As they released the salmon into a gurgling rivulet, a couple of Winnemem broke down in tears while others began softly singing a prayer song, barely louder than the breeze.
Under a purple pre-dawn sky, a small group of Northern Californian Indians ventured out onto the wet sand where the mighty Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. They had come to honor and fight for the salmon that have sustained their ancient culture for generations.
From hundreds of fish annually to nearly 9,000 per year, Butte Creek salmon are thriving, thanks to a project begun 20 years ago. That project was celebrated Thursday at Gorrill Ranch on the Midway. … Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior for the Clinton administration, helped bring the players to the negotiating table to get the Butte Creek Salmon Recovery Project, completed in the late 1990s.
The National Park Service has plans to replace aging sewer and water lines in the Muir Woods National Monument that could cause “significant damage” to the environment if they rupture, including to Redwood Creek, home to delicate fish populations.
Quick thinkers who came up with a plan to rescue millions of salmon using fresh water from fire hydrants during the Oroville Dam emergency were recognized for their efforts Sunday by legislators, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and other entities.
This year has brought the mighty river flows that environmental and fishing groups say are vital to salmon. A farmer or city water user might disagree: Yes, the fish need high water at times, but not at the 2017 volume. And we should be adding reservoir space to carry over the excess for dry years ahead.
To no one’s surprise Tuesday, the Turlock Irrigation District board endorsed Tuolumne River fishery improvements that do not involve boosting reservoir releases. Directors voted 5-0 to support a proposal made by San Francisco in response to a state effort to sharply increase flows for salmon and other native fish on this and nearby rivers.
State officials released a strategic plan Friday aimed at reducing risks associated with different stages of migration for salmon and steelhead throughout the Sacramento Valley river system. “These resiliency strategies are an exciting new path for improving conditions for fish and wildlife in the Sacramento Valley,” said David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association.
Pieces of the Feather River Fish Hatchery have been patched back together in time for the return of spring-run chinook salmon. However, the shoveling, shifting and trucking will continue for a while until its smooth swimming for the important fish-rearing station on Table Mountain Boulevard.
The discussion of flows on the lower Tuolumne River will return to the Turlock Irrigation District boardroom Tuesday. Directors will consider endorsing a proposal from San Francisco, another river user, that is an alternative to the major flow increases sought by a state agency for native salmon and steelhead trout.
State and federal agencies have big plans to change the way water flows through Anderson River Park. … The test pits are being dug to prepare for a project that would create a place where young salmon can eat, grow and get ready for their migration out to the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called on the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Thursday to declare a federal fisheries disaster due to this year’s unprecedented low number of ocean salmon, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Four or five Friday nights” of work has paid off for Briana Conners, who recently won $10,000 for her winning entry in a contest seeking proposals to get fish past tall dams like Shasta Dam. … While the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sponsored the contest to solicit ideas for getting fish around tall dams, the agency is specifically interested in finding ways to get young endangered salmon around Shasta Dam.
Already faced with unprecedented low numbers of returning salmon and drastically reduced fishing allowances, California’s fishing fleets and communities are not expected to find any relief in the next few years, according to testimony by a host of experts and regulators at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
Before dams were built on the upper Sacramento River, flood water regularly carried woody debris that was an important part of the aquatic habitat.
Deprived of this refuge, salmon in the lower parts of the upper Sacramento River have had a difficult time surviving and making it down the river and out to the ocean. Seeing this, a group of people, including water users, decided to lend a hand with an unprecedented pilot project that saw massive walnut tree trunks affixed to 12,000-pound boulders and deposited into the deepest part of the Sacramento River near Redding to provide shelter for young salmon and steelhead migrating downstream.
With one report saying the state is facing an unprecedented loss of fish species, a local group has won $158,000 to look at how water released from Kent Lake affects local coho salmon and steelhead trout. The Marin Municipal Water District — the agency that operates the Kent Lake reservoir — is under a 1995 state Water Resources Control Board order to release water periodically to aid federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout.
Before dams were built on the upper Sacramento River, flood water regularly carried woody debris that was an important part of the aquatic habitat. Deprived of this refuge, salmon in the lower parts of the upper Sacramento River have had a difficult time surviving and making it down the river and out to the ocean.
A harrowing report released by the environmental nonprofit organization California Trout and the University of California Davis on Tuesday states that nearly 75 percent of the state’s 31 salmon, steelhead and trout species are likely to become extinct within the next century if current trends continue.
Researchers have issued a dire warning for California’s native trout and salmon: Three-quarters of them will be extinct in the next 100 years unless urgent action is taken. This bleak assessment came Tuesday from biologists at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and from California Trout, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has pulled the plug on plans to release a quarter-million hatchery-born Chinook salmon into Bodega Bay after several North Bay conservation groups demanded the agency first conduct a full environmental review.
The two bills written by [Congressman Jared] Huffman and [Congresswoman Jackie] Speier would provide nearly $22.5 million in relief funds to the Yurok Tribe to aid salmon fishing communities and salmon restoration and monitoring projects. The bills would also provide more than $117 million for California Dungeness crab and rock crab fishermen affected by the delayed 2015-16 season.
Then-Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries disasters for nine West Coast fisheries in January, including for the 2015-16 crab season in California and the 2016 salmon season for the Yurok Tribe. California 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) was one of 17 members of Congress who drafted a bipartisan letter to congressional party leaders in early April urging that they include the disaster funds in the new spending bill.
For anyone who wants to get out on the Sacramento River and fish the section of water from Keswick Dam to Highway 44, time is running out. The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday approved permanently closing that section of the river to all fishing from the beginning of April to the end of July every year.
[California 2nd District Congressman Jared] Huffman and a bipartisan group of 16 other legislators are urging congressional appropriation committees to include fisheries disaster funding in the spending bill for fishing fleets in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, which includes the California crab fleet and the Yurok Tribe salmon fishing fleet.
The fall-run Chinook fishery on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers will be closed in 2017. On Thursday, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to close both rivers to the take of any size Chinook salmon after the fall seasons begin — Aug. 15 on the Klamath and Aug. 31 on the Trinity.
Native American communities are bracing for a public health crisis this year in California’s misty, rugged northwestern corner. In the Pacific Ocean off the mouth of the Klamath River, record-low numbers of fall-run adult Chinook salmon are ready to make their annual migration up the river and its primary tributary, the Trinity River, to spawn.
The top West Coast fishery council has recommended the full closure of the sport and commercial Chinook salmon fisheries near the Klamath River for the 2017-18 season. The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s recommendation Tuesday was expected after it forecast the lowest return of Klamath River Chinook salmon on record, with about 12,000 fish expected to return.
For the first time in its history, the Karuk Tribe will be limiting ceremonial salmon harvests for tribal members because of the record low forecast for returning Chinook salmon on the Klamath River. … The tribe’s announcement came as the Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Sacramento to discuss catch limitations for this year’s salmon season.
For the second year in a row, California officials are likely to shorten the chinook salmon season, making the local specialty costly and hard to find throughout the summer and possibly beyond. … The low numbers are due to lingering effects of the drought, because impacts on the population are felt about three or four years behind years with little rain.
California tribes and fishermen stated Thursday they will be calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a fisheries disaster because of the dismal forecast for this year’s salmon season. … These statements came exactly a year after top state, federal and tribal officials gathered at the mouth of the Klamath River to sign a renewed agreement to remove four dams from the river.
A bipartisan group of congressional representatives sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to include disaster relief funds for nine West Coast crab and salmon fisheries in a government spending bill this month.
A dearth of endangered coho salmon in Muir Woods has prompted the National Park Service to develop a plan to remove 1930s-era walls, put logs into Redwood Creek and replace foot bridges to improve fish habitat at the national monument.
For the past two years fisheries officials — concerned about the plummeting numbers of winter-run chinook salmon — have gone to the state Fish and Game Commission to get an emergency closure of a section of the Sacramento River in Redding.
Speaking at California’s 44th annual “state of the fisheries” forum at the State Capitol on Wednesday, North Coast Sen. Mike McGuire and other state officials conveyed a dire future as the state experiences its lowest forecast salmon return on record and continuing poor ocean conditions.
Both sport and commercial salmon fishing near the Klamath River could be completely closed this year as a result of what the Pacific Fishery Management Council is projecting to be the lowest return of spawning Chinook salmon on record.
About one million endangered fish flooded into a stretch of the Feather River near Yuba City Monday, transported out of the Thermalito annex of the Feather River Fish Hatchery by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service.
California’s chinook salmon — or some of them — are in trouble again. And under a set of proposed rules approved Monday, that’s likely to mean a very restricted salmon season for both commercial fishers and recreational anglers alike.
Crews worked Tuesday to clean up dirt and debris from the base of Oroville Dam and biologists rush to save stranded fish after state officials shut off the flow of water from a damaged spillway at the Northern California lake.
When California state biologists crested a sandbar along the Feather River on Tuesday morning, they expected to find at least some of the water that just a day before had raged through the channel, too deep to stand in – and plenty of fish needing to be rescued.
The federal government can redirect water from a Northern California dam to prevent mass die-offs of salmon in drought years, water that otherwise would be shipped to Central Valley farmers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
Days before nearly 200,000 people downstream of Lake Oroville were ordered to evacuate because of problems with two spillways at the dam, there were millions of other evacuees – residents of the Feather River Fish Hatchery. … Why all the trouble for some fish? Spring-run Chinook salmon and steelhead are both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Protecting and restoring California’s populations of threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and steelhead trout have been a big part of the state’s water management picture for more than 20 years. Significant resources have been dedicated to helping the various runs of the iconic fish, with successes and setbacks. In a landscape dramatically altered from its natural setting, finding a balance between the competing demands for water is challenging.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation ramped up flows on the lower Klamath River on Friday morning in an attempt to reduce the risk of threatened fish from contracting a deadly parasite as had occurred in years past. The move came just over a day after a federal judge found that the bureau’s past dam operations had caused harm to threatened juvenile Coho salmon in 2014 and 2015.
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries disaster for nine salmon and crab fisheries in Alaska, Washington and California in January. Of the nine fisheries, the two in California include the Dungeness and rock crab fishery and the Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery.
A federal judge is set to issue an order in the coming weeks for two federal agencies and a group of local tribes and environmental organizations to work together to develop a new water flow plan for the lower Klamath River.
A new study concludes that salmon have not benefited much from autumn water releases into the lower Stanislaus River. The research by the Fishbio consulting firm backs up claims by the Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts that the October releases are wasting water from New Melones Reservoir.
The final hearing on the state’s river flow plan Tuesday dealt in part with how long salmon stay in the streams each year. The State Water Resources Control Board proposes to roughly double, from February through June, the volume of the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers.
More than 900 people packed a Modesto hearing on boosting river flows Tuesday, most of them determined to stop the state’s plan. … The round of hearings started Nov. 29 in Sacramento and will finish there Jan. 3.
New Melones Reservoir would hold virtually nothing in about one in seven years if the state’s river flow plan goes through, water managers said Friday. They spoke at a State Water Resources Control Board hearing that also drew support for boosting the lower Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers to help fish.
California farmers and Southern California cities were aghast last winter when much of the heavy rainfall that fell in Northern California washed through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea.
Both California senators took to the floor Friday to take opposite sides in a debate over provisions of a national water resources bill that allows more water to be pumped south to Central Valley agriculture at the expense of the salmon industry.
Tuesday, I visited a couple of projects in the Sacramento Valley that are aimed at helping salmon on both ends of the life cycle. They are collaborations between farmers and environmentalists, two groups that are often at each other’s throats in the never-ending battle over who is entitled to California’s precious water supply.
Two federal agencies are the target of a second lawsuit alleging they violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing up to 90 percent of juvenile Klamath River coho salmon to become infected by an intestinal parasite in 2014 and 2015.
River restoration on the Trinity River, the largest tributary for the Klamath River, was not walk through the park. Instead it was restoring what used to be labeled a dumping zone and transforming it into salmon habitat by creating a separate channel for the river.
Asking the public to listen carefully to their controversial plan, state water officials began a series of hearings Tuesday on permanently shifting a share of water away from farms and cities and reallocating it to wildlife on streams feeding the San Joaquin River.
Fishing and environmental groups will get the first say Tuesday about how much water should run down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. The session in Sacramento will be the first of five before the State Water Resources Control Board, which is considering a major boost in the flows.
Year after year, volunteers return to tributaries of the Klamath River, just like the fish they’re trying to help do the same thing. Jimmy Peterson, a fisheries project coordinator for the Mid-Klamath Watershed Council, places rocks and stones to make fish passages in Fort Goff Creek, 60 miles up from the river’s mouth on California’s North Coast.
Restoring salmon in the Russian River and protecting the North Coast from oil rigs — two long-standing campaigns with broad public support — are among the goals likely to be challenged if not stifled by the sharp right turn of Donald Trump’s administration, environmental advocates and Democratic lawmakers said.
Excavators, loaders and dump trucks began moving earth around the Sacramento River this week as part of the latest effort to help endangered chinook salmon. … Money for the project comes from the federal Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
The picture has brightened slightly for endangered winter-run Chinook salmon after two disastrous spawning seasons. The number of juveniles migrating downstream this fall is roughly twice what it was last year, thanks to better temperature conditions in the Sacramento River.
For the past two years state fisheries officials have asked the state Fish and Game Commission to close on an emergency basis a 51/2-mile section of the river to fishing from April 1 to July 31 to protect spawning winter-run chinook salmon.
A massive concrete structure, built to withstand floods and earthquakes beside the Russian River near Forestville, is the latest step toward restoring the river’s beleaguered salmon and steelhead populations.
Four hydroelectric dams may soon be demolished along the Klamath, near the California-Oregon border. … What’s made this possible is compromise, forged over years of negotiation, among upriver and downriver interests, in California and Oregon, farmers and tribes and fishery advocates.
A decade ago, environmentalists and the federal government agreed to revive a 150-mile stretch of California’s second-longest river, an ambitious effort aimed at allowing salmon again to swim up to the Sierra Nevada foothills to spawn.
Water users in San Francisco and its suburbs face a day of reckoning as state regulators move to leave more water in California’s two biggest rivers in an effort to halt a collapse in the native ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay and its estuary, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
For well over a decade, federal officials have failed to fix a mechanical flaw in the water outflow system of Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River that fishery and river advocates say has caused millions of fertilized salmon eggs and juvenile fish to die in lethally warm river water.
Signaling a cutback in water supplies for farming and cities, California regulators on Wednesday issued a new scientific analysis that proposes overhauling the management of the Sacramento River and devoting more water to Northern California’s dwindling fish populations. … The proposal comes a month after the water board called for people to take far less water out of the San Joaquin River system.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell penned a letter this week to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging it to approve a plan to remove four dams from the Klamath River to protect the interests of fish and farmers.
Four dams on the Klamath River in California and Oregon are a step closer to being taken down. In an October 17 letter to federal dam regulators, the Department of the Interior signaled its approval of a multi-party agreement that would result in dismantling the Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2, Iron Gate, and J.C. Boyle dams, which stand along a 30-mile stretch of the Klamath.
A project to rebuild the Wallace Weir, a century-old levee northwest of Sacramento, could help both farmers and salmon. Bringing together a coalition of unlikely allies, it promises a more sophisticated approach to water management.
After the state entered into its sixth year of drought on Saturday, Humboldt County walked away with its best rainfall total in the last five years. … A year ago at this time, the Eel River was approaching record low flow levels with salmon showing alarming signs of blindness and lethargy as they waited for heavy rains.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Shasta County has been tracing the journey that follows the spawning route of the winter-run chinook salmon to raise public awareness of the fish’s plight, said Caleen Sisk, the Winemmem’s chief and spiritual leader.
Salmon are struggling to survive all along the West Coast, where runs that historically numbered in the millions of fish have dwindled into the thousands or even dozens. Environmental laws that have been put in place to see that these fish remain healthy and plentiful are not working in many places.
The owner of four dams on the Klamath River and the nonprofit corporation created to take responsibility for their destruction recently filed long-awaited applications with federal regulators to remove the dams.
At this point in the Sacramento River restoration game, one big fix will not change the outlook for endangered and threatened salmon. However, fish scientist Dave Vogel hopes that a series of smaller fixes will make a big difference.
Five years of drought have severely taxed California’s rivers, reservoirs and groundwater. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta – the hub of California’s water supply, an agricultural center and a crucial ecological resource – hasn’t been immune from the impacts of the prolonged drought.
At this free one-day briefing in Stockton on Oct. 25, keynote speaker Jay Lund, Director of the UC Center for Watershed Sciences, and other experts will discuss the drought’s effects on the Delta.
Other confirmed speakers include Delta Watermaster Michael Patrick George, Michelle Banonis, Manager of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Bay-Delta Office, Michael Dettinger, senior scientist and research hydrologist at USGS, and Peter Moyle, one of the foremost experts on California’s freshwater fish.
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Less than 50 miles northeast of Chico, California, begins the 93-mile Butte Creek – a tributary of the Sacramento River. It is named after Butte County, which was in turn named for the nearby volcanic plateaus, or “buttes,” and travels through a massive canyon on its way southwest to the Sacramento Valley.
As a watershed, it drains about 800 square miles, both for agricultural and residential use. The upper watershed is dominated by forests, while the lower watershed is primarily agricultural.
The Bureau of Reclamation released water from the Trinity Reservoir early Thursday morning to the lower Klamath River to help prevent the spread a parasitic fish disease, within Chinook salmon. Supplemental flows from the Lewiston Dam will also extend into late September to protect the fall salmon run.
To prevent an outbreak of a deadly fish-killing disease, federal officials plan to begin tripling the amount of water flowing out of Lewiston Dam and into the Trinity River. … The Trinity River flows into the Klamath River and the higher flows in the Trinity are meant to aid salmon and trout in the Klamath.
As you grunt up the path in the depths of Deer Creek Canyon, the incongruous sound of a large piece of gasoline-driven machinery becomes audible over the rhythmic rumbling of the creek. … But it’s one of those things where a temporary intrusion into the wild may end up enhancing the wild for the long term.
After nearly a month in port, local fishermen are once again heading out to sea in search of the highly prized king salmon. Also known as Chinook, it’s a sleek, silver fish that boasts a high oil content, sweet flavor and a deep orange color due to its fat-laden diet of krill, anchovies and squid.
From a Hoopa Valley Tribe press release: Today, the Hoopa Valley Tribe (HVT) filed its lawsuit against the federal government for violations of Endangered Species Act (ESA) regarding its management actions on the Klamath River, California’s second largest river system.
As Operation Yurok — which the Yurok Tribe carries out each summer with help from local, state and national agencies — continues this week, Yurok Tribe Chairman Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr. said Wednesday the tribe may carry out similar raids later this year. … Illegal diversion of water from stream and creeks lead to less water for the Yurok people and the salmon that live and spawn in the rivers.
While conditions on the Klamath River are looking more favorable for fish compared to recent years of drought and disease, North Coast researchers and tribes are not expecting fall-run salmon to have an easy journey.
Two federal agencies could face a third legal challenge over alleged Endangered Species Act violations on the Klamath River after a group of environmental and fishing organizations filed a notice of intent to sue this week.
Whether the temperature management of the runoff of Northern California water reservoirs, including Shasta Dam, results in improved survivability of endangered fish or uncertainty for human water users was debated at a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
A bill passed by U.S. House of Representatives seeks to limit predator fish, such as striped bass, in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to aid struggling salmon populations. But scientists say the strategy won’t work.