Anadromous fish are freshwater fish that migrate to sea then
return to spawn in freshwater. In California, anadromous
fish include coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead. Those in
the Central Valley have experienced significant declines from
Of particular importance is the Chinook salmon as 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, migratory obstacles created by water projects,
unfavorable ocean conditions, pollution and introduced predator
The Anadromous Fish Restoration Program (AFRP), a part of the
Central Valley Project Improvement Act, aims to double the
natural production of fish that migrate between fresh water and
salt water. The goal is to boost the numbers of anadromous fish
to at least twice the levels attained during the period of
Since 1995, AFRP has implemented more than 195 projects through
funding by Congressional appropriations and a surcharge imposed
on Central Valley Project water and power contractors.
The California Fish Passage Forum brings together public and
private groups and agencies working to remove barriers to fish
passage. We get a quick lesson in the projects and progress of
the Forum in an interview with Chair Bob Pagliuco and
Coordinator Alicia Marrs.
Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not
just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to
entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport
nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land
animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey.
New state grants totaling about $8 million will enhance fish
habitat on the Tuolumne River, and better connect west Modesto
residents to the waterway. The grants will continue efforts to
restore spawning areas and floodplains for salmon, trout and
other fish between La Grange and Modesto.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
S. Craig Tucker, consultant to the Karuk Tribe, and Mike
Belchik, senior water policy analyst with the Yurok Tribe,
joins Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel) and Tom Wheeler (EPIC)
for a spirited discussion on the new news about the state of
Almost exactly 25 years after being ordered to stop illegally
pumping water from the Carmel River, the Monterey Peninsula
will have to beg state officials for another extension. On July
20, the board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management
District voted unanimously to send a letter to the State Water
Resources Control Board acknowledging the failure to make
progress on developing a new water supply.
With state and federal administrations fighting in court about
delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year
both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to
avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water
supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water
Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into
question last week when federal regulators refused to let the
current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to
carry out the demolition.
After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the
license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron
Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would
carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the
utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the
While it’s fair to say that salmon and steelhead are dying the
death of a thousand cuts in the Eel River, Scott Dam is by far
the deepest and most damaging of these injuries. Dam removal
efforts from Maine to Washington State to here in California
have shown time and again that restoring access to historical
spawning grounds is key to rebounding fish populations.
Earlier this year, the California Almond Board released a
report regarding the acreage of almond trees that have reached
bearing age and another with totals including young trees.
These reports paint a stark picture of an unsustainable
industry that threatens the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
California’s salmon fishing jobs.
The most apparent observation I had after developing the
comments was the substantial amount of work that has been
undertaken in the Sacramento Valley to complete habitat
projects and advance science for Chinook salmon recovery in the
last 5 years.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman says
she’d like to see more cooperation from California officials as
talks aim to resolve a legal dispute over competing biological
opinions governing the management of their respective water
This legislation will ensure the nation’s water supply is safe
and sustainable. The Water for Tomorrow Act will combine the
water sustainability measures from Sen. Harris’ Water Justice
Act with key measures from the FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act,
led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jared Huffman
The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in
Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late
September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions,
outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or
launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest
Service has announced in a press release.
Less than a week before Christmas in 2016, the State Water
Resources Control Board held a single public hearing in our
community. The topic? Draining our community’s water supply and
sending it to the Bay Delta.
For the past two decades, dams have been falling across the
United States in a bid to reverse a legacy of destruction of
fish and their habitat. … But in southwestern Washington, a
local flood control district is going against the flow by
proposing a major new dam on the Chehalis River. … The
Chehalis is a critical salmon stream and the largest river
system fully contained within the state’s boundaries.
While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic
joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes
expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had
not been adequately heard.
The net pen program allows the young fish to leapfrog what
would be a 250-mile river journey to the ocean, where the
salmon would face thousands of water pumps, reverse currents in
the Delta, and the chance of poor water quality and a
procession of predators…
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $11
million in grants to five projects that will improve the
habitat and chances of survival for native fish species within
the lower San Joaquin River watershed.
Decades of environmental protection is threatened to be undone
by the recent Trump Administration Executive Order to roll back
regulations from the Clean Water Act to speed up energy
projects. The proceeding EPA rule-making procedures make it
easier for owners of hydroelectric dam projects to bypass state
oversight and environmental accountability. Without legislative
protection, our waterways are under threat.
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a
resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin
after meeting with growers, local water officials and other
The Fremont Weir Adult Fish Passage Modification Project, which
began modified operations in January of 2019, successfully
allowed thousands of migrating fish to pass between the
Sacramento River and Yolo Bypass in its first year of
U.S. District Court Judge Dale Drozd of the Eastern District of
California, who is based in Fresno, denied environmental
groups’ request for an injunction that would have required the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the CVP, to reduce
water allocations as needed to manage water temperatures in the
Sacramento River below Shasta Dam. The groups sought more cold
water for spring- and winter-run chinook salmon.
On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of California denied the preliminary
injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and
environmental groups regarding the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s
operations of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and related temperature
management actions on the upper Sacramento River.
After an absence of many decades, Chinook salmon swim up the
Guadalupe River in San José most winters. The fish look for
places to lay eggs and often find them. If there’s enough water
left in the dry season, their offspring swim back down the
river in the spring to head out to sea. Surprisingly, given the
generally heated politics regarding fish in California, little
else is known about these salmon.
The St. Helena City Council awarded a $3.2 million contact
Tuesday to an Arcata firm to remove the Upper York Creek Dam.
McCullough Construction will be charged with notching the dam,
restoring the creek’s aquatic habitat, and removing an illegal
barrier to fish passage that the city first agreed to remove in
The proposed expansion of Pacheco Reservoir in southern Santa
Clara County is not solely a project aimed at improving our
region’s ability to store water for droughts and emergencies. A
collaboration between Valley Water, the San Benito County Water
District and Pacheco Pass Water District, the proposed
expansion will improve the quality of fish habitat downstream
of the dam.
The white lab coats, sterile gloves, and meticulously
controlled laboratories typically associated with genetic
research are a far cry from the muddy, dusty, and utterly
uncontrolled world of the field biologist. … However,
advancements in molecular technology are placing all the power
of a modern genetics lab into the (often slimy) hands of field
Hatcheries operated by the California Department of Fish and
Wildlife in the Central Valley just completed the final release
of young Chinook salmon raised this year. More than 20 million
young salmon, called smolts, raised in four state-run
hatcheries were released in various locations throughout the
Sacramento and San Joaquin River systems, the Delta, San Pablo
Bay and into a coastal net pen.
Last week, on the flanks of Mount Lassen, the partnership of
the Western Rivers Conservancy and the Lassen National Forest
completed a project that protects a crucial 1,150-acre
property, and a significant branch of South Fork Antelope
Creek, a rare stronghold for salmon and steelhead in the
Sacramento River system.
The feasibility study refers to removal of Scott Dam as a
foregone conclusion. The reason being salmon and steelhead are
not able to access spawning grounds above the dam. This area is
a small percentage of the overall spawning habitat of the Eel
River watershed. … A fish ladder around Scott Dam makes much
With a global pandemic, a catastrophic economic recession and
record-high unemployment, one would think the state has enough
issues to tackle. But proponents of a state water grab that I
have been fighting since the day I was sworn into office in
2012 disagree. Where others see turmoil and anguish, they see
opportunity. Apparently, they believe in the adage, “Never let
a crisis go to waste.”
American Indian tribes in California’s Klamath Basin praised
Monday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court not to
hear the Klamath Project irrigators’ Fifth Amendment water
rights case, Baley v. United States. By not hearing the case,
the Supreme Court upheld the Klamath Tribes’ treaty water
rights as the most senior water rights in the Klamath Basin.
These water rights are critical to protect the tribes’
fisheries and traditional way of life.
With dry conditions resulting in low flows and threatening the
survival of coho salmon, the State Water Board today sent
notices of water unavailability to110 junior water right
holders in the Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, urging
them to stop diverting.
The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, plans to begin construction of the Lower
Clear Creek Floodplain and Stream Channel Restoration Project
Phase 3C on the week of June 22. This project is funded through
the Central Valley Project Improvement Act.
In recognition of the immense opportunity for recovery in Elk
River, CalTrout, the North Coast Regional Water Board, and
several project partners joined together to form the Elk River
Watershed Stewardship Program. The purpose is to engage with
the Elk River community to develop a landowner supported
recovery plan to reduce nuisance flooding, address the severe
sediment impairment, and rehabilitate habitat for native
Over the years we have spent a lot of effort helping fish to
spawn on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, yet occasionally a
project comes along that requires us to do exactly the
opposite. … While this may seem a bit odd, considering recent
efforts to bolster salmon populations in the basin, we were
tasked with preventing spawning in a small area of the
Sacramento River in order to facilitate the construction of a
new bridge at Jelly’s Ferry near Red Bluff, California.
If there’s one certainty in these uncertain times, it’s that
nature is resilient, and one needn’t look further than the San
Joaquin River as an example. For a second year in a row, and
for only the second year in over 65 years, spring-run Chinook
salmon have returned from the ocean to spawn in the river and
bring forth the next generation.
The Fish Friendly Farming Certification Program was designed to
improve water quality and to restore and sustain habitat for
federally-listed threatened species like Chinook salmon and
steelhead trout. In a stunning victory for fish, farming and
our environment, Fish Friendly Farming has already certified 90
percent of all Napa grape vineyards.
CalTrout and our partners have been working extensively with
landowners to figure out ways to leave some of their water
instream for the benefit of salmon. Often this means helping
the landowner improve their on-ranch irrigation efficiency to
decrease the amount of water needed maintain their agricultural
Beginning June 11, the Bureau released flows to help sustain
juvenile salmon, but it plans to provide only 16,000 of the
40,000-acre feet promised in the plan developed with the Yurok
Tribe, fishing groups and irrigators in March. And nearly a
month passed without augmented flows when young salmon were
being infected and dying from disease-causing parasites and 1.5
million hatchery fish were released and ready to pass through
the infection zone.
In order for the Chinook and steelhead to rebound in the Eel
River, there should be at least 26,400 fish returning from the
ocean to spawn annually… Although the Eel salmon population
was larger this year than last, Fish and Wildlife’s June 1
report shows the population fell far below the margin for
species recovery. Only 8,263 made the journey, they wrote.
The Sonoma County Water Agency filed a Temporary Urgency Change
Petition with the State Water Resources Control Board to reduce
Russian River minimum in-stream flows this summer. With the
Ukiah region facing its third driest water year on record, Lake
Mendocino’s water supply is projected to reach critically low
levels due to dry conditions and reduced water transfers from
the Potter Valley Project.
San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast, and
in recent years much effort has been put into restoring tidal
marsh habitat in the Bay. … FISHBIO was recently invited to
tour one such project in the North Bay, where we had the
opportunity to use our ARIS sonar camera to examine the fish
community in the restored area.
Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project are breathing a
sigh of relief after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced
Tuesday it will not further reduce this year’s water allotment,
which is already less than half of demand. … On the other
hand, tribal members that depend on ample salmon runs for their
way of life argue the runs will continue to suffer in warm, low
rivers without enough flow for them to migrate and spawn.
To assess the range of pandemic-related issues confronting the
sector, the PPIC Water Policy Center held a series of
conversations with representatives from state and federal
agencies, water utilities, environmental nonprofits, and
businesses that specialize in restoration. The pandemic’s
impact falls into three categories: disruption of monitoring
and research programs, delays to restoration projects, and the
threat posed by the economic downturn to funding for this work.
Here are some key takeaways.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is backpedaling on a plan to
further slash water deliveries to Klamath Basin farmers this
summer, as the agency is reverting to an earlier allocation of
140,000 acre-feet. The bureau in May signaled plans to cut
its allocation to 80,000 acre-feet as part of a three-year
operating plan, initiated under an agreement with the Yurok
Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time
job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of
the year. The work is critical for surveying Clear Creek for
the presence of steelhead, rainbow trout and late-fall Chinook
salmon nests known as redds.
Recognizing the recovery of Coho salmon in central California’s
streams and rivers as a high priority, the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife is collaborating with NOAA’s
National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, and other partner agencies and non-governmental
organizations to develop and implement recovery actions. The
tricky part is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to
saving the species.
California and federal water regulators are trying to quickly
resolve their legal dispute over competing biological opinions
governing the management of their respective water projects, a
top state official says. The talks are proceeding after Gov.
Gavin Newsom filed suit in February to nullify new federal
opinions that would ease restrictions on surface water for San
Joaquin Valley growers.
In a stark reminder that drought has once again taken hold on
the North Coast, Sonoma County is preparing to ask state water
regulators for permission to reduce water levels in the Russian
River this summer to conserve water stored in Lake Mendocino
and ensure minimal late-season flows for fish.
By the thousands, they rolled through the Southern Oregon
countryside in tractors, hay trucks, log trucks, pickups and
minivans, their hand-painted signs greeted by supportive
passers-by who agreed with the message of Friday’s “Shut Down
and Fed Up” rally: the water problems that for decades have
plagued the region and its farmers must be resolved.
In 2014, the Cleveland National Forest (CNF) initiated an
effort to restore the migratory corridors for fish and other
aquatic species in the San Juan and Santiago Watersheds by
removing the remnants of small (approximately 2 – 15 ft) dams
constructed by Orange County (California) between 1940-70s.
The Klamath Project, a U.S. government-operated waterworks that
steers runoff from the towering Cascades to more than 200,000
acres of potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, onions and other produce on
both sides of the state line, is running low on supplies. The
local water agencies served by the project say they may not
have water to send to farms beyond next month.
The researchers discovered that salmon survival depends in part
on how long isolated pools spend disconnected from flowing
water: the longer the dry period, the fewer salmon were able to
hang on until the wetter months of fall and winter. And though
fewer salmon overall survived the drought years, the
researchers did find reason for hope. In certain streams and
pools, which the researchers call drought “refuges,” salmon
survival was similar in both drought and non-drought years.
Increased frequency and severity of droughts threatens
California’s endangered salmon population — but pools that
serve as drought refuges could make the difference between life
and death for these vulnerable fish, according to a study by
researchers from UC Berkeley and California Sea Grant…
For Indians, confronting economic uncertainty and food
shortages has been part of life since Europeans arrived in our
lands. … This is why the Yurok Tribe is fighting so hard to
remove Klamath River dams and restore the salmon runs that have
fed our people since the beginning of time.
The Round Valley Indian Tribes, California Trout, Humboldy
County, the Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission and
Sonoma Water have formed a group called the Two-Basin
Partnership and announced the filing of a feasibility report
with FERC on Wednesday.
For decades, sediment buildup in California’s Butano Creek
caused an array of issues for both fish and people. It flooded
roads and local communities, prevented steelhead and coho
salmon from migrating, and contributed to substantial die-offs
of fish. In October 2019, the NOAA Restoration Center and
partners finished a $7 million effort to remove the sediment
and restore the creek.
The conflict over California water, often compared to a war,
rather resembles a geological process. As along an earthquake
fault, surface spasms come and go. The latest twitch is an
injunction momentarily halting some Trump Administration water
plans. But the underlying pressures are a constant. They never
stop exerting themselves.
A partnership of numerous Northern California agencies intends
to file an initial plan to acquire the Potter Valley project
from the Pacific Gas and Electric Co., multiple sources
confirmed. The coalition will submit a document to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission for its consideration. If
approved, the group may be able to form a partnered ownership
of complex water infrastructure dividing the Eel and Russian
A judge issued a preliminary injunction in two lawsuits brought
against the administration by California’s Natural Resources
Agency and Environmental Protection Agency and by a half-dozen
environmental groups. The order bars the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation until May 31 from going ahead with expanding the
amount of water it pumps from the San Joaquin Delta through the
federal Central Valley Project.
Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San
Diego and the University of Tasmania have found that different
hatchery systems for salmon greatly influence the microbial
communities of the fish, which in turn may influence their
overall health. These findings, published April 17 in the
journal Applied Environmental Microbiology, could have impacts
that determine which hatchery methods produce healthier and
greater volumes of salmon.
During the marathon hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dale
Drozd hinted the environmental groups’ requests for a ruling by
May 11 will be a tall task. Not only is the case complex and
involves dozens of parties, he said the chaos caused by the
pandemic is impeding the court’s ability to move swiftly.
For California, the findings could have positive ramifications
for the state’s struggling commercial and recreational salmon
fishing industry. In recent years, state and federal officials
have relied more and more on fish raised in hatcheries that are
hauled downriver via boat or in a truck. The hauling somehow
throws salmon GPS systems out of whack.
In the spring of 2020, Cal Fish PAC sponsored a webinar
covering the 2017 State of the Salmonids report reviewing the
findings and discussing how to improve resiliency in salmonids
moving forward. The webinar presenters were Patrick Samuel,
California Trout’s Bay Area Program Manager, and Dr. Rob
Lusardi, California Trout-UC Davis Wild and Coldwater Fish
Scientist and aquatic research scientist at UC Davis Center for
Watershed Sciences. Both presenters were co-authors of the
report; Dr. Peter Moyle was the lead author.
At the April meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection
Board, Board members heard an informational briefing on the
Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage
Project being planned for the Fremont Weir. Referred to as the
Big Notch, this project will construct a gated notch at Fremont
Weir to create seasonal floodplain habitat for juvenile fish as
well as to improve migration for adult fish.
The California Environmental Quality Act scoping period
concluded on April 17, 2020 after an extended 93-day public
comment period. DWR is reviewing all submitted comments and
will publish a scoping report summarizing the information this
Environmental groups in California on April 29 challenged in
court the state Dept. of Water Resources decision not to
include a proposed 40-mile tunnel in its most recent
environmental assessment needed to reauthorize long-term
operation of the State Water Project—a 700-mile system of dams
and aqueducts that moves water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta to areas in the south.
For us, better science is the only path that can achieve those
two important goals. Unfortunately, as the state completed its
new permitting effort at the end of March, a decade of research
was largely ignored in favor of political objectives that
impose unjustified restrictions on the State Water Project …
While salmon counts are low this year, having accurate
information will better inform our conservation efforts.
CalTrout has been using a Sonar system to estimate abundance of
spawning Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, and steelhead on the
South Fork Eel River with support from the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife Steelhead Report and
Restoration Card Program.
California water agencies yesterday sued the state over
endangered species protections they claim threaten their
ability to provide water to more than 25 million residents and
thousands of acres of farmland. … At issue is water shipped
from California’s water hub, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta east of San Francisco, south via the State Water Project,
a massive system of dams, canals and aqueducts.
From the moment he took office, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he
wanted to bring peace to California’s water wars. But now, more
than a year later, most of the warring factions are united
against his plan for governing the Delta. Three of the most
powerful groups in California water sued the state this week
over Newsom’s two-month-old plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Some Klamath Project water users on Sunday and Monday protested
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s use of water at the Link River
Dam, at one point voicing plans to stay near the dam until
Reclamation followed Oregon water law.
The Sites Project Authority plans to recirculate an
environmental document for the proposed Sites Reservoir after
project leaders modified plans recently to right size the
project proposed for Colusa and Glenn counties. The reservoir
capacity will be reduced from 1.8 million acre feet capacity to
from 1.3 to 1.5 million acre feet.
On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump swung into
California’s agricultural hub and vowed to deliver more water
to the drought-ridden state’s farmers. … Three years into his
administration, Trump is now opening the floodgate to deliver
on that promise, setting up the most intense water war between
the federal government and California in the state’s history.
At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed
the project. Seated on the panel was Richard Roos-Collins, a
principal with the Water and Power Law Group and General
Counsel for the Klamath River Renewal Corporation; Paul
Weiland, lawyer for Siskiyou County; and Mike Belchik, Senior
Fisheries Biologist with the Yurok Tribe.
As expected, irrigators in the Klamath Project are getting less
water than they will likely need this summer thanks to a
combination of dry weather and more water being kept in-stream
to protect threatened coho salmon.
When the Water Forum Agreement was officially signed 20 years
ago, the occasion marked an unprecedented show of regional
cooperation. For years, interests representing business, the
environment, water suppliers and others had sparred over the
water needs of people vs. the environment of the lower American
The Bureau of Reclamation, in coordination with PacifiCorp,
plans to increase flows below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk
of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River. Starting
Wednesday, April 22, flows below Iron Gate Dam will increase
from approximately 1,325 cubic feet per second up to 6,000 cfs.
Today, the Bureau of Reclamation updated the water supply
allocation for Friant Division Central Valley Project contracts
for the 2020 contract year. The Friant Division provides water
for 15,000 family farms and several cities in the Central
Valley. … Given the current hydrologic conditions,
Reclamation is increasing the Class 1 allocation from 40% to
55%; Class 2 remains at 0%.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a motion
Tuesday evening seeking to stop implementation of new Federal
environmental guidelines aimed at boosting water supplies for
the Central Valley and Southern California from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Counts of Chinook salmon in the Eel River were lower during the
2019 – 2020 ocean runs than any previous count conducted by the
Eel River Recovery Project since the organization began
tracking in 2012, according a new report, with estimates the
entire Chinook salmon run below 10,000 fish.
Now, just as the first Earth Day in 1970 gave U.S. policymakers
a chance to chart a fresh course for conservation, this year’s
50th anniversary offers lawmakers an opportunity to act on a
growing body of evidence that free-flowing, well-protected
rivers serve the greater public good.
Two separate letters sent to President Donald Trump and members
of Congress highlight the importance of providing support for
enhancing water management, particularly in light of the
tumultuous conditions created by COVID-19.
Federal and regional operators of Southern California’s
Twitchell Dam lost their bid to dismiss claims the dam causes
unlawful killing of endangered steelhead trout, but they won’t
face an emergency injunction restricting their operations, a
federal judge ruled Friday.
The case was filed in late 2001, the year there was an
announcement that no water would be available for Klamath
Project irrigation from Upper Klamath Lake. The plaintiffs
claim that if the water is taken under the Endangered Species
Act, the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires
payment of compensation for the water right, a form of
property, that has been taken.
The whole San Francisco Bay ecosystem—that enormous estuary
with its maze of bays, rich delta, and associated rivers and
streams—is in the midst of an ecological calamity. Decades of
dam building and water extraction to quench the thirst of
California’s growing population and the needs of its mighty
agriculture industry have starved the state’s waterways, as
well as the bay itself, of crucial freshwater supplies. As a
result, the entire estuary is under enormous stress.
For the last four years, our team at UC Davis has been
conducting scientific studies on reintroduced spring-run
Chinook salmon in the San Joaquin River and we wanted to take a
minute to share some of what we’ve learned. Plus, everyone
loves a good comeback story right?
On March 13, 2020, water users in the Klamath Reclamation
Project (Project) petitioned the United States Supreme Court to
review the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Baley,
et al. v. United States, et al. (Baley). The decision denied
the water users’ takings claims for the 2001 Project water
shutoff on water law grounds.
Yolo Basin Foundation’s Board of Directors announced this week
that Chelsea Martinez has been named the Foundation’s new
executive director. … Martinez joined the Foundation in 2017
as the Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator and has grown
and sustained the Foundation’s volunteer base to over 200
volunteers as well as helped to increase community involvement
in its programs.
Voluntary agreements in California have been touted as an
innovative and flexible way to improve environmental conditions
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the rivers that feed
it. … Yet, no one said it would be easy getting interest
groups with sometimes sharply different views – and some, such
as farmers, with livelihoods heavily dependent on water — to
reach consensus on how to address the water quality and habitat
needs of the Delta watershed.
Ted Grantham is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at UC
Berkeley and the CalTrout Ecosystem Fellow with the Public
Policy Institute of California. … In this presentation, Dr.
Grantham discussed environmental flows and the policy context
in California in which environmental flows are managed and how
that has evolved over time.
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s plans to remove four
dams on the Klamath River in the US has taken a major step
forward with the issuance of key documents from the California
State Water Board. The plan – the largest dam removal project
in the US – would re-open 360 miles of the Klamath River and
its tributaries to salmon.
A rare, wild green sturgeon was found on the San Joaquin River
upriver from the confluence of the Merced this past weekend by
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation crews checking salmon traps at Hills
Ferry. The discovery caused some excitement as this endangered
fish had not been seen that far up the San Joaquin in many
years, according to National Marine Fisheries Service staff.
How critical are Sacramento Valley floodplains for a vibrant
fishery? A California Fish and Game Bulletin from 1930 gives us
a clue. The report documents the Sacramento River commercial
salmon catch declining from 6 million pounds in 1918 to less
than 1 million pounds by 1927.
The state recently got a new permit for water delivery
operations from its wildlife agency. In the past, that kind of
authority came from adhering to federal rules. Now, with a
dispute between the state and federal government over water
management and endangered species act protections, the state
issued its own permit. Critics of the state’s move say they
plan to file lawsuits.
Lower Battle Creek in Tehama County is one of the 19 waterways
to be part of the Wildlife Conservation Board $24.3 million
grant program set to help enhance flows in streams throughout
California. … The project will dedicate water rights to
instream flow in the lower 7.3 miles of Battle Creek to restore
dwindling Chinook salmon and steelhead
Several Congressional leaders sent a letter to Governor Gavin
Newsom expressing disappointment in the decision to issue an
incidental take permit for long-term operations of the State
Water Project. … The letter was signed by Representatives
Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Tom McClintock, Doug
LaMalfa, and Paul Cook.
The largest dam removal project in U.S. history came one step
closer to fruition this week, as California issued permits for
breaching the four dams on the Klamath River. The State Water
Resources Control Board issued a Clean Water Act certification
and environmental assessment for the proposal to remove three
dams in Northern California and one in southern Oregon.
Big Chico Creek is an ideal stream to monitor fish populations
for a number of reasons. For one, the creek’s flow patterns,
especially in the area we surveyed, have hardly been altered
from their natural state, as there are no dams or large
diversions. As such, data from Big Chico Creek can provide
insights on how populations of threatened fish fare under
Southern Resident killer whales have long pursued the biggest
and most nourishing Chinook salmon from coastal Pacific waters.
Chinook salmon fishing is also a mainstay of the West Coast
economy, generating nearly $72 million in income last year. Is
there room for both? The answer is yes, with safeguards.
At the 2020 California Water Law Symposium, a panel discussed
the history of the project. Speaking on the panel was Chief
Caleen Sisk with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, Doug Obegi with the
Natural Resources Defense Council, and Darcie Houck who is
currently General Counsel with California Energy Commission,
but formerly represented the Winnemem Wintu Tribe when she was
in private practice.
The State Water Board today issued key documents that move the
Klamath River Renewal Corporation significantly closer to
removing four dams and re-opening 360 miles of the Klamath
River and its tributaries to imperiled salmon.
Taking advantage of recently approved rules, the federal
government is quickly following through on President Donald
Trump’s promise to quiet environmentalists and “open up the
water” to California farmers. … The pumps in the south of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aren’t just whizzing during
what will likely end up being classified a “critically dry”
hydrological year, they are churning — and killing — endangered
salmon during a critical migration period.
Unprecedented efforts by leaders at the state and national
level have led to the kind of cooperation that will provide
valuable benefits to water users and the environment. I know
because that’s what we’ve been doing in the Sacramento Valley
for many years. The kinds of success we’ve achieved can be
replicated in other parts of the state.
A new set of water regulations aimed at protecting California’s
native fish came down from the state earlier this week to near
universal condemnation from both agricultural and environmental
water folks. The regulations are contained in a 143-page
“incidental take permit” issued by the state Department of Fish
and Wildlife …
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has issued a new three-year
operating plan for the Klamath River, dedicating more water for
endangered salmon while avoiding a “worst case scenario” for
farmers and ranchers. In exchange, a local tribe and fishing
groups agreed to suspend a lawsuit filed against the agency in
The rules take the form of a state Fish and Wildlife Department
permit that will govern State Water Project deliveries from the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta… But the permit does not
explicitly control the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Central
Valley Project, which exports Delta water to San Joaquin Valley
farms. That means the two big government pumping operations
will likely adhere to different standards — possibly allowing
the federal project to boost deliveries at the expense of the
The Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources …
have successfully obtained a new three-year plan from the
Bureau of Reclamation for operating the Klamath Irrigation
Project to increase springtime flows in the Klamath River.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s
refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water
District and the Bureau of Reclamation. … The contract would
have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually to
Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity
River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time
The second-largest river in California has sustained Native
American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided
upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and
served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its
banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has
come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly
precious water resources of the U.S. West…
Winter-flooded rice fields already provide essential habitat
for migratory birds, but could they also provide benefits to
help the state’s salmon populations? Scientists at the
University of California, Davis, are finalizing their fieldwork
on an experiment to find out what management practices farmers
might adopt in their fields to maximize fish survival.
The COVID-19 virus outbreak is affecting us all, whether we
live in a big city or rural Siskiyou County. The economy is
grinding to a halt and governments are planning a massive
response to keep money flowing to small businesses and
employees – the lifeblood of the entire economy. It is through
this lens that I encourage Klamath Basin residents to
view Klamath River Renewal Corp.’s dam removal and river
restoration project as an economic bright spot.
During a week full of COVID-19-related uncertainty, a pair of
new lawsuits are a reminder of one constant: disputes over
Klamath Basin water. This past week, PacifiCorp and Klamath
Water Users Association each filed petitions for review of
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for temperature in the Upper
Klamath and Lost River subbasins.
Coho salmon are getting a boost from the California Department
of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) strategic plan to prioritize salmon
restoration and habitat improvement projects in coastal
watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties. In most of
these watersheds, coho salmon are in severe decline or locally
extinct due to human alterations to land and water resources.
Two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s
authorization of plans to increase water pumping from the
Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds will be moved from the
Northern District of California to the Eastern District of
California, a federal judge ruled.
In February 2017, damage to the Oroville Dam’s spillways
prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living
downstream along the Feather River. The raging muddy waters
also triggered an emergency decision to relocate millions of
young salmon from the Feather River Hatchery to the Thermalito
Annex Hatchery to be raised and held until river water
conditions improved. … Those fish survived and were later
released to the wild – helping fuel a record class salmon
harvest in the ocean two years later.
Vallee and his team are here to maintain an array of
hydrophones used to track migrating native fish. The work is
part of a multi-agency effort to provide more timely and
detailed information about the movements of salmon, steelhead,
and sturgeon in the Central Valley. Deploying hundreds of
listening stations across the watershed, the program lets
scientists follow thousands of tagged fish as they navigate
from hatcheries and headwater streams toward the Pacific Ocean.
The return of rainbow trout to Calaveras Creek marks a
milestone in an ongoing, multi-agency restora-tion of Alameda
Creek, which drains more than 600 square miles of the East Bay.
Much of the watershed is heavily developed and modified,
especially the northern reaches in and around Pleasanton and
The nature of Butte County’s concerns over Gov. Gavin Newsom’s
scaled back Delta tunnel project was made clear last Tuesday,
when Supervisor Debra Lucero questioned a staffer from the
state Department of Water Resources.
This past fall, CalTrout, and the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation
conducted water quality sampling at several locations on Santa
Paula Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River. Work that
allowed us to glimpse a better understanding of the potential
source of bacterial contamination observed by downstream
The falling cost of renewable energy and continued decline of
manufacturing renders many of these structures unnecessary.
Others require expensive maintenance. Seven in 10 are more than
50 years old and many are falling into disrepair, according to
the American Society of Civil Engineers…
The case, titled Baley v. United States, was filed 19 years ago
when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation re-allocated Klamath River
irrigation water to threatened and endangered species. A
favorable outcome would mean upwards of $30 million
collectively in compensation for irrigators named in the case.
As discussed below, in the case of west coast salmon, the
scientific evidence is clear that the replacement assumption
has proven faulty as the total abundance of salmon declined at
the same time the propagation and release of hatchery salmon
The new rules allow the federal Central Valley Project to kill
100 percent of baby winter run Chinook salmon below Shasta Dam
for three years running. Chinook salmon live for three
years, so authorizing the Bureau of Reclamation to kill every
endangered winter run for three years amounts to an extinction
plan for this species.
The 2020 ocean abundance projection for Sacramento River fall
Chinook, the driver of West Coast salmon fisheries, is
estimated at 473,200 adult salmon, higher than the 2019
forecast. However, the Klamath River fall Chinook abundance
forecast of 186,600 adult salmon is lower than the 2019
forecast and will likely result in reduced fishing opportunity
in the areas north of Pt. Arena…
In a Feb. 28 filing, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation,
formed to shepherd the removal of four hydroelectric dams from
the Klamath River in Northeern California and Southern Oregon,
submitted key budget information to the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission. … This filing is another concrete step
toward implementing the amended Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement (KHSA), removing the dams and restoring a
free-flowing Klamath River, KRRC officials said.
If you live in Southern California or Silicon Valley, you might
be surprised to learn that your local water district (a member
agency of the State Water Contractors) is siding with the Trump
Administration, and defending Trump’s plan to increase water
diversions, despite the widespread acknowledgement that this
plan is likely to drive salmon and Delta smelt extinct.
On Thursday, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation delivered its own
salvo to the Newsom administration – it was pushing forward
pre-construction work on raising Shasta Dam. … A push to
raise the dam was made possible by the same law that delivered
new biological opinions – the Water Infrastructure Improvements
for the Nation (WIIN) Act, approved in the waning days of the
The state is projecting lower numbers of adult full-run Chinook
salmon in the Klamath River this year, a discouraging sign for
the Yurok Tribe, whose fisheries have been devastated by
reduced fish counts in recent years.
An official at the Interior Department embarked on a campaign
that has inserted misleading language about climate change —
including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere is beneficial — into the agency’s scientific
reports, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.
… The misleading language appears in environmental studies
and impact statements affecting major watersheds including the
Klamath and Upper Deschutes river basins in California and
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) continued progress
toward implementing the Amended Klamath Hydroelectric
Settlement Agreement (KHSA) to remove the Klamath dams and
restore a free-flowing Klamath River by selecting McMillen
Jacobs Associates to provide owner’s representation services,
according to a news release.
California’s complaint challenges the biological opinions
issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National
Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
as well as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s EIS and record of
decision completed pursuant to the National Environmental
Scientists say climate change will bring more unpredictable
weather, warmer winters and less snowpack in the mountains.
These challenges and some ideas for remedies are outlined in a
new plan, called the California Water Resilience Portfolio,
released by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January to a mix of praise and
disappointment. Below, an explanation of the state’s water
development — as well as the challenges, today and tomorrow, of
providing water for California’s people, places and things.
A Simon Fraser University-led research team has found
significant evidence that human activity in estuaries is
impacting juvenile Pacific and Atlantic salmon. The team’s
review of 167 peer-reviewed studies (from an initial search of
13,000) identified negative impacts from several stressors,
including the effects of flood-protecting tidal gates,
pollution and habitat modification.
A day after President Trump visited the Central Valley to
celebrate a boost in water for California farms, state
officials sued to block the additional water deliveries.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a lawsuit filed Thursday,
maintains that new federal rules designed to increase pumping
from the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta fail to protect
salmon and other endangered fish in the delta estuary.
Following a promising 2018 fall Chinook salmon season on the
Klamath that saw the run size trending upwards, the 2019
returns fell significantly short of expectations. Looking at
the numbers presented in the PFMC “Review of 2019 Ocean Salmon
Fisheries” document, it’s likely we’ll have some severe
restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity
rivers in 2020.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a pre-emptive strike against President
Donald Trump, said Wednesday he plans to sue Trump’s
administration to block a controversial plan to increase water
deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley. Newsom’s office said he
“will file legal action in the coming days … to protect
highly imperiled fish species close to extinction.”
In the latest update, the cost of implementing the voluntary
agreements has soared by over $4 billion to a whopping $5.3
billion. Governor Newsom failed to mention the enormous and
growing costs in his oped praising the voluntary agreement
During President Trump’s visit to California this week, the
commander in chief who campaigned on a pledge of shipping more
water to Central Valley farms plans to stop in Bakersfield to
boast about a promise kept. … But what confounds some who are
worried that Trump’s water plan could undermine the environment
is how little the state has done to stop Washington.
Hoisting the spoils of victories in California’s hard-fought
water wars, President Donald Trump is directing more of the
state’s precious water to wealthy farmers and other agriculture
interests when he visits their Republican Central Valley
It’s time for Gov. Gavin Newsom to own up on water policy. He
can either play nice with a roughshod plan from President Trump
to divert crucial water flows or craft his own blueprint that
balances both wildlife and California’s economy.
Though the process leading to removal of the Klamath Dams
continues to march forward, numerous citizens in Siskiyou
County have continued fighting to keep the dams in place. Many
of those dam advocates are members of the Siskiyou County Water
Users Association, which in January hosted a presentation about
an alternative fish passage technology the association believes
could “make it possible” for the dams to remain.
Lamprey may tread the line between ugly and downright
frightening, but these underappreciated fish play similar
ecological roles as the salmon that always seem to capture the
freshwater fish spotlight.
Reps. Jim Costa (D–Fresno) and TJ Cox (D–Fresno) joined fellow
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee to grant
wide-ranging subpoena power to the committee’s chair, Raul
Grijalva (D–Ariz.)… A key inquiry likely to be explored by
Grijalva … is to dig into the Trump administration’s issuance
of new biological opinions governing the Central Valley
The Department of Water Resources has partnered with the UC
Davis J. Amorocho Hydraulics Laboratory to find innovative ways
to investigate fish-protection technology within California’s
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta estuary.
In the coming weeks and months, the Newsom administration,
water users and conservation groups will continue to refine a
framework for potential voluntary agreements intended to
benefit salmon and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
The local steelhead run is at the height of its roughly
four-month window, when adult fish raised from eggs at the Don
Clausen Hatchery return from the ocean, swimming up the Russian
River and Dry Creek. Returning salmon — including wild and
hatchery raised chinook and coho — make similar journeys
through the watershed, but their spawning seasons are a bit
The group called Water Audit California has used lawsuits to
pry water releases from local reservoirs for fish and has
threatened a groundwater-related lawsuit against Napa County.
The group last week co-sponsored a forum to suggest another
“In many ways, summer steelhead are the most extreme athletes
of the steelhead, allowing them to get up to habitats higher in
the watersheds like the Middle Fork Eel River in the Yolla
Bolly Wilderness, their southernmost stronghold where they have
unimpeded access,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
biologist Damon Goodman. “Having clear routes of passage to be
able to make it up and express their life history is critical
to their survival.”
The Ventura City Council announced Monday that it may request a
six-month extension from the court for the thousands who were
sent legal notices or served with a court summons in the case.
… The litigation dates back to 2014 when Santa Barbara
Channelkeeper filed a lawsuit alleging the city of Ventura
was taking too much water from the Ventura River,
hurting habitat for steelhead trout and other wildlife.
The governor’s newest proposal signals Newsom may be softening
his fight against Trump, but opening another battle. Newsom may
have traded a court fight with Trump for a legal battle with
the very environmentalists the Democratic administration has
seen as allies.
From an ecologist’s perspective, river habitat and species
population sizes and life histories were shaped by unimpaired
flow patterns (including volume and natural variability) across
seasons and years. Science from across the world, other regions
in the US, and right here in California suggests that we can
take some of that flow for other uses, but must preserve
adequate volume and natural patterns of variation if we want
native species to survive.
To inform our conservation work on the Eel, CalTrout has teamed
up with partners on this new project – The Adult Salmonid Sonar
Monitoring Program – to tally the annual spawning run of
Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead on the South Fork
Eel River with a Sound Metrics Dual Frequency Identification
One of the major questions fish biologists are often asked is
“how much water do fish need?” In 2016, a group of scientists
from California Trout, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, The Nature
Conservancy, Utah State University and the Southern California
Coastal Water Research Project, with funding in partnership
from the State Water Board, began to delve into this question
Current research shows 11 of the remaining 21 anadromous
salmonids in California are at critical risk of extinction in
the next 50 years under present trends. Estuaries are
especially important to the survival of juvenile salmonids
given their important role, helping to increase the number of
adult salmonids that survive to adulthood and return to spawn.
The multi-year, multi-agency effort to transform the lower
landscape of the Carmel River into a natural floodplain took a
massive step forward Jan. 28 when the Monterey County Board of
Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the project’s final
environmental impact report.
Ken W. Davis, an aquatic biologist and wildlife photographer,
prefers the more isolated ambiance of nature’s waterways – and
the quiet of his lab – and has been studying aquatic
invertebrates for 30 years. Much of his work now is dedicated
to the health of Putah Creek, and its tributaries, and has an
ultimate goal of seeing an ecosystem that includes elements
that existed prior to the construction of the Monticello Dam in
Nearly a year after construction was halted a second time at a
large resort project at the north end of Healdsburg when
water-quality regulators allegedly found millions of gallons of
sediment-filled stormwater running off into Russian River
tributaries, the agency announced it is pursuing a $4.9 million
fine against the developer.
The City Council passed a resolution to make a formal request
of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District that it
allocate additional water to develop affordable housing. …
Most of the Peninsula is under a moratorium for additional
water hook-ups following the cease-and-desist order instituted
in 1995 when the State Water Resources Control Board ordered
California American Water to stop over-pumping the Carmel
Santa Barbara County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have
issued notices of violation to Southern California Edison for
its dumping of debris and rocks into Mission Creek near the
Inspiration Point hiking trail. … Mission Creek is Santa
Barbara’s largest creek, flowing from the hills of Mission
Canyon through the heart of downtown and to the Westside. It is
home to steelhead trout among other wildlife.
At a panel discussion hosted by California Natural Resources
Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the panelists discussed how by
spreading out and slowing down water across the landscape can
provide multiple benefits year-round by allowing farmers to
cultivate the land during the spring and summer, and provide
habitat for fish and wildlife in the fall and winter months.
Since July, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and State
Water Contractors have engaged in fruitless negotiations over
how to pay for a single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Facility. On
December 23, right before the holidays, DWR made their 6th
proposal to the State WaterContractors with a major shift in
The main focus of the program are the barriers to fish passage
for salmon from Friant Dam to the ocean and back again. There
are three key barriers: the East Side Bypass Control Structure
which is in the flood bypass; Sack Dam, which is the intake for
Arroyo Canal for Henry Miller irrigation system; and Mendota
Dam which controls Mendota Pool. The program also needs to
ensure enough habitat for the fish when they return to complete
their life cycle,
The Sonoma Index-Tribune recently published a couple of
articles about beavers and otters in Sonoma Creek… It’s a
good sign, not just because it’s nice to know that Sonoma
Valley’s main waterway is actually clean enough to support
wildlife, but also because beavers can actually improve life
for other critters, including my favorite, rainbow trout.
Now Trump’s team is set to impose new environmentally damaging
Bay-Delta water diversion and pumping rules. … These new
rules would wipe out salmon and other wildlife by allowing
wholesale siphoning of water from Northern California rivers to
a few agriculture operators in the western San Joaquin
The number of Coho salmon in Northern California’s Shasta and
Scott rivers in 2019 was too low to sustain a viable
population. That’s according to a just-released report from the
California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The most recent
count identified only 334 Coho on the Scott, and 61 on the
The territory encompassed by the 5th State Senate District has
been a battleground for California’s complex water politics. So
it’s not surprising the two Democrats and three Republicans
running to succeed Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, who is
terming out this year, might tap dance around questions
regarding Tuolumne and Stanislaus river flows and water quality
in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
In the early days, these pot farms were small and scattered.
But in recent years the industry has intensified. A wave of
newcomers planted larger farms, using greenhouses and
artificial lights to extend the growing season and yield up to
three marijuana crops in a single year. The cannabis boom has
polluted waters with fertilizers, fuels and pesticides,
triggered erosion that buries the rocky habitats where salmon
and trout spawn and grow, and drained streams of water in the
The Central Valley fall-run population is a fraction of its
historic size and continues to face challenges as a result of
factors that range from loss of habitat and changing ocean
conditions to pressures from predation and harvest in
freshwater and the ocean. Even under good environmental
conditions, fall-run Chinook face a slew of challenges over the
course of their lives.
At the December meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
Caitlin Sweeney, Director of the San Francisco Estuary
Partnership, briefed the Council on the 2019 update to the
State of the Estuary report. She began with some background on
With virtually no public notice, state officials quietly gave
away a significant portion of Southern California’s water
supply to farmers in the Central Valley as part of a deal with
the Trump administration in December 2018. One year later, it
remains unclear why the California Department of Water
Resources signed the agreement…
West Marin ranchers and a local conservation group are teaming
up to plan habitat restoration projects along Walker Creek to
restore the once bountiful, but now diminished, runs of coho
salmon and steelhead trout. The California Department of Fish
and Wildlife awarded the Point Reyes Station-based Marin
Resource Conservation District a nearly $350,000 grant this
As they walked to the river’s edge holding baby salmon in cups,
second graders warned the tiny fish of predators before gently
setting them free into the water. Two classes from Oakdale
Heights Elementary School took part in a salmon study that came
to a close Friday at Riverbend Park in Oroville.
Yes, aggregate mining on the San Joaquin has been going on for
more than a century. But with production tapering off and newer
operations opening on the nearby Kings River, it was generally
assumed the poor San Joaquin would finally be given a break…
Unfortunately, a proposal by Cemex threatens to dash those
hopes while ensuring another century of heavy industry on
California’s second-longest river…
Biologists, heavy equipment operators, government agencies, and
non-profits all working together. Hopefully, they’re major
steps toward restoring the endangered chinook salmon winter run
in the Sacramento River.
What started as a plan for a fun trip down the Sacramento Rver
turned into a storytelling mission for Mitch Dion and his
friend Tom Bartels, who set out to interview farmers,
politicians and others who were impacted by the river.
Every year since 2014, I have petitioned the State Water
Resources Control Board to end the widespread practice of
irrigation, especially of cattle pastures, outside the legal
irrigation season. So far, however, State Water Board staff
have not taken effective action to end the illegal water use
and the resulting degradation of Scott River stream
Since 2015, the state’s commercial fishermen have reported
nearly record-low catches. Fish hatcheries produce most of the
salmon caught in California today, and with much of their
inland habitat badly degraded, truly wild salmon are scarce.
But a small circle of biologists and fishermen believe they can
revive California’s legendary Chinook to something resembling
its historic glory.
These changes will be substantial, multi-faceted, and often
rapid. Some changes will be irreversible. Many changes are
inevitable. Some will say today’s Delta is doomed. It will be
important for California to develop a scientific program that
can help guide difficult policy and management discussions and
decision-making through these challenges.
Federal agency representatives on Friday night kept the
conversation going with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley about continued
efforts to save two Klamath Basin sucker species from
extinction. … Merkley has delivered $23.5 million to the
Basin since 2013 to find a way toward a solution. He recently
secured $11 million for sucker recovery efforts, including $5.1
million for the Klamath River.