The California Legislature was the first in the country to
protect rare plants and animals through passage of the California
Endangered Species Act (CESA) in 1970, Congress followed suit in
1973 by passing the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The federal ESA aims to, “protect and recover imperiled species
and the ecosystems upon which they depend.”
The state ESA states that, “all native species of fishes,
amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and plants,
and their habitats, threatened with extinction and those
experiencing a significant decline which, if not halted, would
lead to a threatened or endangered designation, will be protected
Imperiled species are defined as follows: “Endangered” if it is
in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion
of its range and “threatened” if it is likely to become an
endangered species within the foreseeable future.”
As wildfires, heat waves, water scarcity and threats to
wildlife intensify in the West, California’s effort to confront
these environmental crises now has support in Washington, a
stark change from the past four years. Even as former President
Donald Trump spent his final days in office on the sidelines,
lamenting his election loss, his administration continued to
roll back environmental conservation and gut climate
California water issues are notoriously complicated by a
massive diversity of users, ecosystems, applications and
futures. Indeed, water in the Delta has been described as
a “wicked problem” indicating that these problems cannot
be ignored and defy straightforward characterization and
solutions. Below we highlight how a Swiss cheese model might be
applied to vexing long-term declines in native fish populations
The Yurok people have lived in the 15,700 square miles Klamath
River Basin, in what is now called Northern California, for
millennia. They are among the key organizers in a coalition of
Indigenous groups, environmentalists, concerned citizens and
commercial fishers that have joined forces in a decades-long
movement to Un-dam the Klamath.
2020 was a bad year for delta smelt. No smelt were found in the
standard fish sampling programs (fall midwater trawl, summer
townet survey). Surveys designed specifically to catch smelt
… caught just two of them despite many long hours of
sampling. The program to net adult delta smelt for captive
brood stock caught just one smelt in over 151 tries. All signs
point to the Delta smelt as disappearing from the wild this
year, or, perhaps, 2022.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of
its intent to sue outgoing Interior Secretary David Bernhardt
for delaying protection for 11 species that have been
identified as warranting endangered status but placed on a
candidate list instead. The species that have been kept waiting
for protection are the monarch butterfly, eastern gopher
tortoise, Peñasco least chipmunk, longfin smelt, Colorado Delta
clam, three Texas mussels, magnificent ramshorn snail, bracted
twistflower and northern spotted owl.
A winter storm is expected to blow through Northern California,
bringing much-needed rain to the Valley and snow to the Sierra.
Rain coming in waves like it is this week is huge for
fish. To date, we are really behind in precipitation
across most of the state.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt started off 2020 empowering
his most controversial public lands deputy, a move that a
federal judge later deemed “unlawful.” He’s ending the year in
quarantine, having tested positive for COVID-19. In between
these bleak-sounding bookends, the 51-year-old Bernhardt
rewrote how the Interior Department works. While the results
get mixed reviews, and in some cases may get erased by the
incoming Biden administration, 2020 was undeniably
consequential for the department.
A new habitat definition has been finalized by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries
Service. The final rule dictating how a habitat is determined
will be used for identifying critical habitat under the
Endangered Species Act (ESA). The updated definition will go
into effect in 2021. There had previously not been a clear and
decisive definition outlining what is to be considered a
habitat under the ESA.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine
Fisheries Service have finalized a regulatory definition of the
term “habitat” that will be used for designating critical
habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The definition
is part of the efforts of the Trump Administration to balance
effective, science-based conservation with common-sense policy
designed to bring the ESA into the 21st century.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that Endangered
Species Act protections for the Clear Lake hitch, a large
minnow found only in Northern California’s Clear Lake and its
tributaries, are not warranted.
When ecologist Jackie Charbonneau learned that cattle ponds in
the East Bay hills are vital to rare amphibians, it came as a
surprise. Stock ponds can be so muddy and trampled that “they
can look like a bomb hit them,” said Charbonneau… But the
stock ponds dotting East Bay rangelands are in
trouble…. Today Charbonneau is part of a multi-agency
team that restores these unconventional wildlife habitats.
A coalition of conservation groups is working to prevent the
development of a dam in the Del Puerto Canyon. The proposed Del
Puerto Canyon Reservoir [in Stanislaus County] would reportedly
store more than 80,000 acre-feet of water…. In a lawsuit
filed on November 20, the plaintiffs assert that the project
would negatively impact the habitat of several species.
With the realities of climate change looming ever closer,
California transportation officials are now moving a key
stretch of highway more than 350 feet inland — one of the first
major efforts by the state to relocate, or “manage retreat,”
critical infrastructure far enough from the coast to make room
for the next 100 years of sea level rise.
Over the past three years, a team of scientists from
universities, NGOs, and state agencies across California have
been working to provide guidance on how to better manage river
flows for freshwater ecosystems throughout the state. A key
product of this effort is the California Environmental Flows
Framework (Framework), a guidance document and set of tools to
help managers and stakeholders develop environmental flow
recommendations for California’s rivers.
While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent
step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing
and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions
of a “lame duck federal agency.”
In early November, the Domestic Names Committee of the U.S.
Board of Geographic Names voted unanimously to name a peak in
Nevada’s Amargosa Valley, outside of Death Valley National
Park, for the endangered Devils Hole and the Ash Meadows
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced
Tuesday it’s awarding $10.7 million for fisheries habitat
restoration program projects. Ten out of the 27 projects
selected by the CDFW are in Humboldt County and will receive a
total of nearly $2.7 million of the funding.
It was daybreak and Barron Tsinigine had been fishing for
rainbow trout, until he found out he could earn $25 for landing
a brown trout. That’s when his plan changed. … Tsinigine was
one of the first anglers to participate in Arizona’s
incentivized harvest of brown trout … in hopes of keeping the
predacious trout from moving downstream and endangering native
fish, like the humpback chub.
Karuk Tribe natural resources spokesperson Craig Tucker joined
John Howard to talk about the historic agreement, its impact on
the region’s Salmon fisheries, and the potential for
replication in other places where dams are contested.
Work crews have been busy this week along Twin Cities Road near
Courtland. They are conducting core sampling, the first step in
drafting an environmental impact report for a tunnel plan known
as the Delta Conveyance Project.
The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake
Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental
Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the
Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,
Current estimates of young salmon lost to the south Delta pumps
are based on a smattering of studies from the 1970s and should
be updated, according to a new analysis. “They don’t represent
current operations,” says Ukiah-based consultant Andrew Jahn,
lead author of the analysis reported in the September 2020
issue of San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science.
At its Nov. 18 meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board
approved $19 million in grants to help restore and protect fish
and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 26
projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some
endangered species — while others will provide public access to
important natural resources.
The California Natural Resources Agency recently announced the
investment of almost $50 million in Proposition 68 funding for
projects to promote salmon recovery. More than $220 million in
Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 funds have also been dedicated
for multi-benefit flood protection projects in the past two
years that will benefit salmon.
On Nov. 17, California, Oregon, PacifiCorp, and the Yurok and
Karuk Tribes announced a new agreement with the Klamath River
Renewal Corporation to reaffirm KRRC’s status as dam removal
entity and provide additional funding for the removal of four
hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The agreement is the
latest development in a decade-long effort…
Westlands Water District announced Wednesday that it recently
completed the Lower Yolo Restoration Project, which restored
the habitat for fish and other wildlife species in part of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. … The land had been previously
used for cattle grazing, and now it has transformed into tidal
marsh, riparian and upland buffer habitat.
America’s largest dam removal project has been brought back to
life with a new agreement among California, Oregon, tribes and
a utility owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The decadeslong
effort to remove four dams on the Klamath River in Northern
California that have had a devastating impact on salmon runs
had appeared in danger following an unexpected July regulatory
How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the
United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule
Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the
making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale
of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District and its
partner, the California Department of Parks and Recreation,
Angeles District, are one step closer on a project to restore
Malibu Creek’s ecosystem after receiving support from the
Corps’ top brass.
The Kern County Water Agency board of directors voted
unanimously to approve an agreement with the Department of
Water Resources to pay $14 million over 2021 and 2020 as its
initial share of the early planning and design phase for what’s
now being called the Delta Conveyance Facility.
There really hasn’t been many salmon in Pescadero Creek north
of Santa Cruz for years. On Tuesday, that changed. …
Ranchers, farmers and all manner of public agencies finally got
on the same page and major portions of the creek are now
Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Oregon counterpart signed a landmark
deal Tuesday to take control of four aging dams targeted for
removal on the Lower Klamath River, an agreement designed to
push the controversial $450 million plan over the finish line.
… The agreement “ensures that we have sufficient backing” to
get the four dams demolished, said Chuck Bonham, director of
the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A research team from California State University, Chico will
continue its exceptional work to re-establish juvenile salmon
and salmonid habitats along the Sacramento River, after
learning it would continue to be funded by the United States
Bureau of Reclamation.
The last three administrations have been active in Klamath
Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a
basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and
continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the
House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has
varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm
Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration
could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.
Reported deficiencies in the design and construction of the
water delivery system have resulted in poor water circulation
that has caused algae to overbloom, while cattails and duckweed
are growing like wildfire along pond shores, creating
conditions ripe for mosquitoes. Fairview Park administrator
Cynthia D’Agosta said maintenance costs have ballooned far
beyond the annual $40,000 anticipated at the outset of the
To protect smelt and salmon, there need to be reasonable water
temperature standards in the Delta. The existing water
temperature standard in the lower Sacramento River above the
Delta is 68oF, but managers of the state and federal water
projects pay it almost no heed.
We’ve identified five priorities for the Biden-Harris
administration and Congress in our 2021 Blueprint for Action.
While some of these priorities can be accomplished by the new
administration itself, many will require congressional action.
California’s war with Washington over the environment will soon
come to an end. … President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to
act quickly to restore and strengthen dozens of protections on
public lands, water and wildlife. In addition, California’s
efforts to fight climate change will no longer face hurdles put
up by the White House, which has downplayed the global threat.
Why are our food producers, including many century-old family
farms with 100-year-old water rights, facing a shortage of
water? Because we drain Oregon’s largest lake to artificially
increase water supply in California.
A declaration suit filed in Superior Court in Sacramento by
attorneys for some of the leading environmental groups in
America accuses the California Department of Water Resources of
trying to prevent anyone in California from filing a court
action challenging … the financing of a single tunnel that
would be built under the Delta for 35 miles.
At the October meeting of the Central Valley Flood Protection
Board, Elizabeth Vasquez, Deputy Program Manager for the San
Joaquin River Restoration Program for the Bureau of Reclamation
and Paul Romero, Supervising Engineer with DWR’s South Central
Region Office, updated the board members on the ongoing
implementation of the program.
Voluntary agreements have been proposed as a collaborative,
modern and holistic alternative to the State Water Resources
Control Board’s staff proposed update to the Bay-Delta Water
Quality Control Plan. … Westlands and other public water
agencies are eager to reengage in the process to finalize the
voluntary agreements, as they offer the best path forward for
The Department of Water Resources has moved one step closer to
starting the Delta’s largest multi-benefit tidal restoration
and flood improvement project… Lookout Slough is in
unincorporated Solano County, near the border of Yolo County.
It is adjacent to additional tidal restoration efforts,
including Yolo Flyway Farms and Lower Yolo Ranch, to create a
contiguous wetland restoration complex spanning 16,000 acres in
the Cache Slough region of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Desertification is dawning on the Central Coast, according to
University of California, Santa Cruz ecology professor Barry
Sinervo, and the impact can be seen in the disappearance of a
uniquely giant and talkative amphibian from a southern Monterey
County site: the Pacific giant salamander.
Using a system of radio tags and electrical fields, the
equipment is expected to give researchers more accurate counts
of coho salmon that will return to Lagunitas Creek to spawn
beginning later this month as well as the young salmon leaving
the creek and entering the ocean in the spring.
Just weeks after the Bobcat fire ravaged the San Gabriel
Mountains, state and federal biologists are racing to salvage
as many federally endangered species as possible before storms
could inundate the animals’ last outposts with mud and debris.
… “This may be the last time in my life that I see wild
mountain yellow-legged frogs in the last best place for them,”
said biologist Robert Fisher…
Should the public have access to documents that show why the
federal government changed its stance on the impact an EPA rule
would have on vulnerable species? That’s the question the
Supreme Court will set out to answer Monday in the case Fish
and Wildlife Service v. Sierra Club, which deals with a Freedom
of Information Act request for documents underpinning a 2014
rule for cooling water intake structures at power plants.
In their statement, the scientists laid out the grim picture
that has emerged from thousands of peer-reviewed studies:
Climate change is inflicting extensive harm to aquatic
ecosystems, both in freshwater and the oceans. The degradation
of these ecosystems, which are among the most threatened on
Earth, is accelerating.
Lobbing another hurdle at California’s $16 billion plan to
tunnel underneath the West Coast’s largest estuary,
environmentalists on Thursday sued to freeze public funding for
the megaproject championed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Led by Sierra
Club and the Center for Biological Diversity, a familiar
coalition of critics claim the cash-strapped state is pursuing
a “blank check” for a project that isn’t fully cooked.
Scientists from several fish and wildlife agencies have
launched a rapid research and response effort for deficiency of
thiamine, or Vitamin B1. This deficiency was recently found to
be increasing juvenile mortality among Chinook salmon in
California’s Central Valley. The magnitude of its effect is not
clear. However, it could be a risk to Chinook stocks, including
endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and the fishery for
fall-run Chinook salmon.
The Bureau of Reclamation announces the selection of four
funding award recipients to implement $40 million in salmon
habitat improvement projects along the Sacramento River. The
restoration projects will enhance and improve spawning and
rearing habitat for salmon at approximately 25 different
locations across 132 river miles.
Protecting the health of California’s rivers, estuaries, and
wetlands has been the grandest—and perhaps thorniest—of the
many challenges facing the state’s water managers. The San
Joaquin River watershed, the state’s third largest and an
important water source for irrigating farmland in the San
Joaquin Valley, epitomizes this challenge. Yet California is
making progress here, bringing a glimmer of hope.
Radically transformed from its ancient origin as a vast
tidal-influenced freshwater marsh, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta ecosystem is in constant flux, influenced by factors
within the estuary itself and the massive watersheds that drain
though it into the Pacific Ocean. Lately, however, scientists
say the rate of change has kicked into overdrive…
At least 700 sub-adult and adult winter-run Chinook salmon
(winter Chinook) returned this year to Battle Creek. …
Establishing another self-sustaining population in a second
watershed (in addition to population in Sacramento River), such
as Battle Creek, is a high priority and a major component of
the Central Valley salmonid recovery plan.
ACWA on Oct. 15 submitted “A Roadmap To Achieving the Voluntary
Agreements” to Gov. Gavin Newsom and top members of his
Administration that calls on the state to take the necessary
steps to re-engage on Voluntary Agreements regarding the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta and its tributaries.
A team of scientists from the California Department of Water
Resources are working with federal and state partners to
embrace the challenge of overseeing the implementation of one
of the most complex endangered species permits in California
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey deep into California’s most crucial water and ecological resource – the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The 720,000-acre network of islands and canals support the state’s two major water systems – the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project. The Delta and the connecting San Francisco Bay form the largest freshwater tidal estuary of its kind on the West coast.
The day the gates closed on the Shasta Dam in 1943,
approximately 200 miles of California’s prime salmon and
steelhead spawning habitat disappeared. Although devastating
for all four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon,
the high dam hit the Sacramento winter-run Chinook the hardest.
U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34
million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a
threatened trout species to return to some of its native
spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century.
Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is
a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout
to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake
northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did
before the dam was built in 1905.
Valley Water this week began draining Anderson Reservoir in
preparation for a seismic retrofit of the body’s dam in east
Morgan Hill, but Gov. Gavin Newsom also vetoed a state Assembly
bill that would have expedited the project that the water
district has been planning for more than 10 years.
Biologists and engineers are setting the stage for an
environmental recovery effort in downtown Los Angeles that
could rival the return of the gray wolf, bald eagle and
California condor. This time, the species teetering on the edge
of extinction is the Southern California steelhead trout and
the abused habitat is a 4.8-mile-long stretch of the L.A. River
flood-control channel that most people only glimpse from a
Saving Species Together, a joint project between the California
Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries,
illustrates how resource agencies, private landowners,
non-profits and citizens have come together to help some of
California’s vulnerable species.
Through a partnership with the California Department of Fish
and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division – DWR is able to
provide funding for Luna, a seven-year-old German Shepard who
is trained to protect her handler, apprehend suspects, and
detect various threats to Delta species and environments.
Although droughts may not garner as much attention as acute
extreme events like hurricanes, floods or fires, their
multidimensional effects are vast. … A multi-year drought in
California has seen the number of breeding waterfowl dip 46%
below average as wetlands shrink and dry up.
The Klamath Basin used to be the third most important
salmon-bearing watershed in the Pacific Northwest. Now, only a
fraction of those runs remain. The multiple reasons for their
decline are complex and interconnected, but they all have to do
with how water moves through the system.
In 2012 a team of salmon researchers tried a wild idea: putting
pinky-sized Chinook on a rice field in the Yolo Bypass, a vast
engineered floodplain designed to protect the city of
Sacramento from inundation. … Now, after nearly a decade of
testing fish in fields, a new paper in San Francisco Estuary
and Watershed Science outlines lessons learned as well as next
steps in managing floodplains for salmon.
The Calaveras River Habitat Conservation Plan finalized this
week includes commitments by the Stockton East Water District
to improve conditions in the Calaveras River for steelhead. In
turn, the Water District gets assurances that it can continue
distributing water to irrigators and others without violating
the Endangered Species Act….These changes will be implemented
under the first plan of its kind in the Central Valley of
Floodplains were the historic rearing areas for juvenile
salmon, and the remaining floodplains in California are an
important food-rich habitat as present-day salmon grow and
attempt to survive their trip out to the ocean. We sat down
with Hailey Wright, a Department of Water Resources
environmental scientist, to discuss the salmon lifecycle and
her work designing and implementing projects in the Yolo
President Trump dismissed evidence pointed to by California’s
governor of climate change’s role in the state’s continuing
wildfires during a Fox News interview on Sunday… The
president went on during the interview to attack California
over its water management policies, which he blamed on efforts
to protect the Delta smelt…
After years spent developing this project and making
adjustments to respond to stakeholder concerns, it became
obvious that we needed to take more time to address objections
raised by the community of Marina — namely that our project
would be built in their backyard without them receiving any
benefit from it.
A long-awaited habitat conservation plan for threatened Central
Valley steelhead on the Calaveras River was approved by the
National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) Monday.
Conservation groups say the plan was pushed through with
minimal restrictions on Stockton East Water District (Stockton
East), whose operations on the river have impacted fish
populations for decades.
Through research funded by the Almond Board of California we
are exploring ways to recharge groundwater aquifers, be good
stewards of the water that we all collectively share as a
state, and even helping the salmon industry understand how
agricultural land, like rice fields, could play a role in
supporting salmon health.
The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked
into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in
hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a
simple question: How much water is there? That answer is
complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River
tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the
future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt writes that
a “Grand Bargain” in California water is needed to end the
“political culture of deferral” and allow major water projects
to advance. On the contrary, what’s needed is an adult
regulator that will make hard choices that water users refuse
Poor erosion control on the 258-acre site unleashed soils into
streams of the Russian River watershed and put fish and other
other aquatic wildlife at risk, regulators found, counteracting
millions of dollars spent to improve habitat and restore
imperiled, protected runs of salmon and steelhead…
At the August meeting of the Delta Independent Science Board,
the new members joined with the outgoing members for
reflections and discussion to bring the new members up to speed
on the Delta ISB’s ongoing work.
Reclamation announces a virtual open house website for the
Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental
Environmental Impact Statement. Website visitors will be able
to learn more about the project, review summaries of Draft
Supplemental EIS chapters, and submit comments.
The pending removal of the Upper York Creek Dam has put a stop
to a daily $70 fine that’s been levied against the City of St.
Helena for almost eight years. Thanks to rapid progress on the
long-awaited project, which will improve fish passage and
restore habitat along York Creek, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration has suspended the $70 per day
penalty the city has incurred since November 2012…
In 2010, tribes joined the company that owns the dams and other
stakeholders in an agreement to remove the dams in 2020. The
plan was later delayed to 2022, and now it may stall again
because of a recent decision by federal regulators.
Restoring specific “functional flows” would better support fish
migration and spawning, water quality, dry-season base flows,
and physical conditions that support aquatic species. A panel
of experts, moderated by PPIC senior fellow and study coauthor
Jeff Mount, discussed how to put this approach into practice.
We invite you to watch the event video.
California EcoRestore is an initiative started in 2015 under
the Brown Administration with the ambitious goal of advancing
at least 30,000 acres of critical habitat restoration in the
Delta and Suisun Marsh by 2020. … At the August meeting of
the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Bill Harrell, gave
an update on the Eco Restore program and the progress that has
been made over the past five years.
As the North Bay continues to deal with thick smoke from
still-smoldering wildfires, some experts are already beginning
to wonder about this winter. They’re concerned about endangered
salmon in the Russian River watershed. Ground zero is the Warm
Springs Fish Hatchery just below Lake Sonoma, at the top of the
Dry Creek Valley.
Dams, diversions, and land conversion have substantially
altered California’s rivers and disrupted the processes that
sustain ecosystem health. The result is a crisis for native
fish and wildlife and the loss of many benefits we derive from
The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental
reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects
during the COVID-19 pandemic… Projects targeted for quick
review include highway improvements in South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida and other states; the Lake Powell water pipeline in
Utah; wind farms in New Mexico and off the Massachusetts coast;
and mining projects in Nevada, Idaho, Colorado and Alaska.
A fish rescue has taken place in the South Bay, where the
Anderson Dam retrofit project is about to get underway. Using
nets and buckets, a team with the Valley Water District scooped
up Central California Coast steelhead in upper Coyote Creek to
save the fish and help the species 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
Stakeholders shared their concerns of potential consequences
over a stalled project to remove four hydroelectric dams along
the lower Klamath River during a recent online panel
discussion. Congressman Jared Huffman of California’s Second
Congressional District and chairman of the Water, Oceans and
Wildlife Subcommittee, hosted the discussion.
This week, water suppliers and landowners along the Sacramento
River joined with federal and state agencies in a new science
collaborative designed to inform ongoing efforts to improve
conditions for salmon on the Sacramento River, while also
helping better manage water for cities and rural communities,
farms, refuges and wildlife management areas that depend upon
The Franks Tract Futures Project is asking for additional
comments on the State’s revised concept design.1 The project is
an outgrowth of the State’s 2016 Delta Smelt Resilience
Strategy, which recognized that Franks Tract is a death trap
for state and federally listed Delta smelt.
Simply updating costs to this latest estimate ($15.9 billion in
2020 dollars is equivalent to $15 billion in the 2017$) reduces
the benefit-cost ratio for State Water Project urban agencies
from 1.23 to 0.92, and for agricultural agencies from 1.17 to
0.87. That’s a bad investment, but it is actually much worse
Tunnel proponents say they do not expect to operate the tunnel
at capacity, and it would be in use mainly to draw from the
periodic storms that send more water through the Delta out to
San Francisco Bay. But how much would that be? The usual answer
is: we will leave that to the experts.
After months of relative quiet, Newsom’s administration
released a preliminary cost estimate for the scaled-back
project Friday: $15.9 billion for a single tunnel running
beneath the estuary just south of Sacramento. That’s nearly as
much as the old $16.7 billion price tag put on the larger,
The U.S. Geological Survey has operated mesocosm experiments in
Upper Klamath Lake each summer since 2014, placing groups of
juvenile suckers in netted cages dotted throughout the lake.
… The goal is to figure out what’s killing the young suckers
before they’re able to reach sexual maturity and support their
A single tunnel proposed to take water under the sensitive
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and deliver it to farms and cities
in the south could cost $15.9 billion, give or take, according
to an initial assessment discussed at the Delta Conveyance
Authority meeting on Thursday.
The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle
down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry
of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers,
and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen
would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the
1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our
state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
Land-based seafood firm Nordic Aquafarms has submitted its
first permit application for the construction of its new
land-based salmon farm in Humboldt, California, the company
said on Tuesday. … Discharge from the farm will be sent
through an existing pipe into open waters where effective
dilution is achieved, with no impairment of waters identified,
the company said.
North Coast elected officials rang alarm bells Tuesday around
what the region’s congressional representative called a
“slow-walk” on the removal of four Klamath River dams that have
threatened fish populations and led to pollution.
The San Diego fairy shrimp, a miniscule, puddle-dwelling
crustacean that provides food for migrating birds, is nearing
extinction as humans continue to encroach on its wetlands
habitat. But a new approach to tracking the shrimp’s population
numbers may give conservationists a boost in protecting the
North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman hosted a forum of the
Water, Oceans and Wildlife Subcommittee he chairs Tuesday
afternoon, orchestrating a two-hour panel discussion focused on
the stalled agreement to remove four hydroelectric dams from
the ailing Klamath River.
One survival bottleneck that needs opening for salmon and
steelhead in the Central Valley is predation by non-native
fish. There is a long list of non-native and native predators
from which native fish need protection. The best protection is
to minimize native-nonnative habitat interactions. That can
best come from adequate physical-geographical habitat and
habitat water quality for natives while minimizing non-native
It should not take pleas to Warren Buffett, the billionaire
leader of the Berkshire Hathaway holding company, to save the
wobbling deal to take down four obsolete dams on the Klamath
River. But that is what the state of California and the
Klamath’s Yurok and Karuk tribes are left with…
The hopes of seeing those dams removed, hopes that burned so
bright four years ago when hundreds gathered in Requa near the
river’s mouth to announce a new removal agreement, have dimmed
considerably since a July 16 ruling by the Federal Energy
The San Francisco Estuary is a dynamic and altered estuary that
supports a high diversity of fishes, both native and
non-native. … Since the 1950s, various agencies and UC Davis
have established long-term surveys to track the status of fish
populations. These surveys help scientists understand how
fishes are responding to natural- and human-caused changes to
The well-written and informative article concerning Upper
Klamath Lake elevations and sucker populations omits a harsh
reality: For nearly 30 years, Klamath Project irrigators have
been presumed guilty and punished, even though there is no
evidence their use of water has anything to do with endangered
CDFW’s drone program got its start in the early 2010s as GIS
Program Manager Steve Goldman and others saw the technology
becoming more affordable and useful. In 2014, Goldman put
together a dedicated team to research policy and best
practices. The program officially launched in 2016 when it
received Federal Aviation Administration authorization…
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum
that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes,
fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on
Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit to block the
U.S. Department of Interior from signing a water delivery
contract with an agribusiness in the Central Valley, an
agreement which would divert water out of the Trinity River
basin 400 miles away.
Valley Water biologists will be rescuing federally threatened
Central California Coast Steelhead and other sensitive fish
from Coyote Creek next week and relocating them to a more
suitable environment in the Coyote watershed.
At the July meeting of the Delta Stewardship Council,
councilmembers heard briefings on the activities of the Delta
Protection Commission and the Delta Conservancy, and an update
on the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan.
The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout
was re-established by the Legislature in 1983 in response to
public concern about declining populations of salmon and
steelhead. … At the July meeting, committee members received
an update on the Klamath dams, Matilija Dam, and the Potter
Valley Project dam removal projects.
If built, it would … pump groundwater into four new
reservoirs … Tribal members and environmentalists say the
project would flood several miles of canyons sacred to the
Navajo; risk damaging cultural sites for several tribes; draw
vast amounts of critical groundwater; potentially harm habitats
for plants and animals, including some endangered species; and
risk adverse effects for waterways leading into the Grand
As vehicular travel of any kind is prohibited, the wilderness
in Imperial County is visited by only a few hikers and an
occasional Border Patrol officer. However, the construction of
the border wall has brought a flurry of activity that could
lead to profound and irreversible environmental changes to the
area. …this border wall construction could exacerbate
the problem of limited access to water.
Regional San’s landmark recycled water program—previously known
as the South County Ag Program—has been rebranded. Now known as
Harvest Water, the program will be one of the largest water
recycling projects in California and will deliver up to
50,000-acre feet per year of tertiary-treated recycled water to
an estimated 16,000 acres of farm and habitat lands in southern
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
Signal crayfish are displacing Shasta crayfish. Believed to
have already forced the sooty crayfish (Pacifastacus
nigrescens) to extinction, signal crayfish have outcompeted
their Shasta cousins to near extinction. However, a growing
trend of environmental monitoring, typically referred to as
eDNA, is helping scientists isolate the scarce species in an
effort to save it.
The COVID-109 pandemic isn’t slowing work aimed at moving
arguably the most cantankerous water project ever proposed in
California since voters overwhelmingly rejected the Peripheral
Canal in 1982 — the Delta Tunnel Project. … The State
Department of Water Resources is currently preparing an
environmental impact report on the project. At the same time
they are also seeking all required state and federal approvals.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
Earlier this year, Reclamation released water from Upper
Klamath Lake — impounded by the Link River Dam in Klamath Falls
— to boost streamflows for coho salmon in the lower Klamath
River. But the Klamath Irrigation District sued, claiming the
bureau does not have an established right from the Oregon Water
Resources Department to use the stored water.
Among the projects, the bureau promises to update a 20-year-old
assessment of streamflows in the lower Klamath River for Coho
salmon and re-evaluate how water levels in Upper Klamath Lake
are affecting the survival of endangered sucker fish. Farmers
in the Klamath Project have long argued that flawed or outdated
science is chipping away at the amount of water they receive
each year to irrigate crops.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta is among the most intensively
studied ecosystems in the world. Numerous long-term fisheries
monitoring programs have been conducted there since the late
1950s, but differences in the methods, scope, spatial coverage,
and timing of these surveys make it difficult to compare and
combine the data collected.
With a new water supply delayed by state regulatory agencies
and political infighting, the Monterey Peninsula Water
Management District board has asked the state water board not
to impose Carmel River water reductions due to an inevitable
violation of an approaching river cutback order milestone…
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
When species are endangered, the Endangered Species Act
requires the government to set aside habitat deemed critical
for its recovery. But environmental groups say the new
definition being proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will
allow the agency to block setting aside any land that isn’t
currently habitat but might be needed in the future,
particularly as the climate changes.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed directly to investor Warren
Buffett to support demolishing four hydroelectric dams on a
river along the Oregon-California border to save salmon
populations that have dwindled to almost nothing.
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
The Delta Plan Interagency Implementation Committee is
comprised of high-ranking members of 18 state, federal, and
regional agencies… At the July 2020 committee meeting,
members heard presentations on the Central Valley Project
Improvement Act and the state’s new Incidental Take Permit and
how those programs utilize principles of ecosystem-based
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
Nearly 230 wildlife species depend on Sacramento Valley rice
fields for food and a resting place, including the giant
gartersnake, a threatened species. Although it has “giant” in
its name, this creature is, at most, five-feet long. These
snakes are heavily dependent on rice fields for their survival;
having lost most of their earlier habitat – traditional
On July 16, 2020, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
published its highly anticipated final rule to improve its
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The
update, which largely mirrors the proposed rule, is the first
comprehensive amendment to the regulations since their original
publication in 1978.
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.
Zone 7 Water Agency directors authorized General Manager
Valerie Pryor to negotiate an agreement with Napa County’s
water division to buy some of its surplus water this year — a
move that could open doors for similar deals in the future. A
need to meet local water demand for the next few years prompted
Zone 7 to act at its regular meeting July 16.
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
A century ago, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was a massive
wetland habitat. The construction of levees over the past 100
years has dried out these wetlands and converted them into
farmland, eliminating 95 percent of this important aquatic
habitat for fish. But scientists are finding out that given the
right conditions, nature can reclaim itself.
Ben Ewing is an environmental scientist for CDFW’s North
Central Region. Based out of the region headquarters office in
Rancho Cordova, Sacramento County, Ben serves as the district
fisheries biologist for Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and Lake
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
A five-year battle over plans to log in the remote Gualala
River flood plain has taken a big step up with a powerhouse
environmental group’s declaration to take the case to federal
court, alleging the commercial tree harvest would harm
protected fish, frogs and birds.
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
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
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.
In five decades of public service Phil Isenberg has served as
mayor of Sacramento, a member of the Assembly, a lobbyist,
chairs of the Marine Life Protection Blue Ribbon Task Force,
the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force, and, until 2016, the
Delta Stewardship Council. … In a two-part oral history with
Chris Austin, editor of Maven’s Notebook, Isenberg details the
myths and complexities of California water politics.
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
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.
Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time,
several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has
become central to an ecosystem science program with
implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado
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.
Today, the Yaqui catfish, a whiskery-looking creature that
evolved at least 2 million years ago and was once common enough
for people to catch for food, is functionally extinct in the
United States. There may be a few still hidden in Arizona’s
ponds, but not enough to keep a population alive.
For more than a decade, California’s governors have pushed for
“voluntary agreements” to establish rules for water diversions
by major urban and agricultural water districts, and to redress
their environmental impacts. Voluntary agreements crumbled
recently, after the state’s largest water districts walked away
from the table.
The project — managed jointly by California Division of Fish
and Wildlife, the Department of Water Resources and the
Department of Parks and Recreation — seeks to make changes in
Franks Tract with the goal of improving water quality,
providing enhanced recreational opportunities and improving the
ecology for the benefit of native and desirable wildlife.
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 American Southwest provides a last stronghold for the
yellow-billed cuckoo, which was officially listed under the
Endangered Species Act as threatened in 2014. This February,
the US Fish and Wildlife Service published a list of proposed
protected areas that trace the curls and curves of rivers and
streams in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Texas, and
After being docked for three months due to COVID-19
restrictions, the Department of Water Resources relaunched its
research vessel monitoring program, the Sentinel. It was the
first time since the 1970s that DWR didn’t have a monitoring
vessel taking field samples in the waters of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Estuaries.
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.”
Living in cold streams fed by underground springs, the Shasta
crayfish is California’s last native crayfish. Listed as
endangered in 1988, the once prolific crayfish have declined
over the past 20 years to the point where only about 500
individuals remain. But a project jointly developed by the
Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Spring
Rivers Ecological Sciences, and the Pacific Gas and Electric
Company could change the fate of the crayfish.
California officials have parried federal moves with actions of
their own — a state law enshrining protection for migratory
birds and a new state regulation setting definitions that
expand protection to smaller wetlands and seasonal waterways.
California’s responses are yet another maneuver in the feud
between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
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.
Burrowing owl homes maintained by the Otay Water District
received a modern makeover this year. As part of its ongoing
environmental mitigation efforts, the District managed
construction of new nesting burrows to encourage breeding. Ten
acres of the 240-acre, District-owned San Miguel Habitat
Management Area reserve and mitigation bank in eastern Chula
Vista is a dedicated native grasslands area where the new
artificial burrows are located.
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.
A smidge over 200 acres, the Wright Wetland Preserve is easily
the largest in the trust’s portfolio. Its terrain ranges from
lake to valley oak woodland with everything from native
wetland, freshwater marsh and upland pasture included. The
property is partially bordered by Manning Creek, an important
breeding ground for an endemic and threatened fish species, the
Clear Lake hitch.
Roland Knapp, research biologist at the University of
California Sierra Nevada Aquatic Laboratory, explained that a
fish-less habitat along with increased resistance to chytrid
fungus can allow populations to rebound and increase. Knapp’s
research findings have shown the frogs being able to adapt to
the disease over time. … “I have a lot of hope. I wouldn’t
have said that 10 years ago.”
Nevada restricted groundwater pumping Tuesday in an area north
of Las Vegas, potentially killing a real estate project that
threatens an endangered fish clinging to existence in a handful
of spring-fed desert pools…
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.
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.
The Solano County Water Agency has filed an appeal with the
Delta Stewardship Council regarding the consistency
determination submitted by Westlands Water District for the
Lower Yolo Ranch Restoration Project. The letter points out
that there are numerous existing agricultural and municipal
water supply intakes in the Yolo Bypass Cache Slough Complex
that will be impacted…
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.
This spring marked the fifth anniversary of the California
EcoRestore initiative, a coordinated effort across state
agencies to deliver 30,000 acres of restored fish and wildlife
habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, an immensely
important landscape that five years ago only had 5 percent of
its native habitat remaining.
Amid a public health crisis that has crashed the economy,
President Trump last week ordered his administration to
accelerate permitting for major projects — sparking blowback
from critics who say it will inflict damage on communities of
color he’s accused of ignoring as thousands protest across the
country against police brutality and injustice.
The first slide of Daybreak Power’s first-ever presentation to
potential investors quotes Paul Allen, the legendary co-founder
of Microsoft, asking what he calls the most exciting question
imaginable: “What should exist? … What do we need that we don’t
have?”. The answer I reached in the years leading up to
co-founding Daybreak in 2018 is this: A bunch of big-honkin’
pumped storage hydropower projects
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday
calling on federal agencies to use emergency powers to
“accelerate” infrastructure projects on federal lands as a
response to the coronavirus pandemic. The order urges the
Interior, Agriculture, and Defense departments to use emergency
powers under the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and
National Environmental Policy Act to speed projects through the
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.
When most people think of sea otters, they picture these
charismatic creatures wrapped in kelp as they float on their
backs in the ocean. But this iconic image is only part of the
story. Sea otters also once abounded in the San Francisco Bay
and other coastal estuaries. Now, a team of sea otter experts
is raising the idea of bringing sea otters back to our bay.
After only 6 months post-construction completion and levee
breach at the Tule Red Tidal Restoration Project, longfin smelt
have returned. The 420-acre restoration site converted wetlands
managed primarily for waterfowl to tidal wetlands for the
benefit of dwindling native fish populations including Delta
smelt, longfin smelt, Chinook salmon and the food web that
A scientist within the Department of Water Resources’ Division
of Environmental Services has found a way to use gene-editing
technology, most recently used for COVID-19 diagnostic testing,
for ecological monitoring of threatened 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 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.
At its May quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board
approved approximately $36.2 million in grants to help restore
and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California.
Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife
— including some endangered species — while others will provide
public access to important natural resources.
Two factors are believed to weigh heavily on the Delta smelt’s
fate. The biggest is the reduction in fresh water in the Delta
since water started flowing southward via the California
Aqueduct in the 1960s. … The other threat to Delta smelt are
larger fish particularly non-native striped bass and largemouth
bass that were introduced to the Delta by man.
The latest dustup In California’s water wars, as noted in Dan
Walters’ commentary, revolves principally around the federal
government’s efforts to increase the amount of water supplied
to farms and cities by the Central Valley Project, and a
breakdown in cooperation between the state and federal
government. It seems like everyone is suing each other. But
what are they really fighting over?
The gene-editing technology CRISPR has been used for a variety
of agricultural and public health purposes — from growing
disease-resistant crops to, more recently, a diagnostic test
for the virus that causes COVID-19. Now a study involving fish
that look nearly identical to the endangered Delta smelt finds
that CRISPR can be a conservation and resource management tool,
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.