California’s two primary salmon species, Coho and Chinook, have experienced significant declines from historical populations.
Of particular importance is the Chinook salmon because the species supports commercial fishing and related jobs and economic activities at fish hatcheries.
The decline in salmon numbers is attributed to a variety of manmade and natural factors including drought, habitat destruction, water diversions, migratory obstacles created by local, state and federal water projects, over-fishing, unfavorable ocean conditions, pollution and introduced predator species. Wetlands have also been drained and diked; dams have blocked salmon from reaching historic spawning grounds.
Years of declining populations represent a significant economic loss and have led to federally mandated salmon restoration plans that complicate water diversions and conveyance for agriculture and other uses.
Near record numbers of chinook salmon are surging up the Mokelumne River, marking the second large spawning year in a row and signaling to fisheries biologists that habitat improvements in recent years are paying off for fish and the people who eat the pinkish delicacies. … Steelhead numbers are also up for the third consecutive year.
Despite being evacuated nearly two weeks ago from their homes in the wake of spreading wildfires, residents of the town of Butte Creek Canyon — a few miles east of Chico — plan to join forces Wednesday to save the local salmon population. … Now, the fish face a new danger, as rains threaten to wash toxic debris from the nearby wildfires into the creek.
Fish biologists bringing back salmon runs on the San Joaquin River say a record number of fish nests have been found in the river below Friant Dam east of Fresno. The number of nests, called redds, created by spring-run Chinook salmon reached 41 this year, compared to just 13 last year. … Several fish biologists, lawyers and members of the public recently toured the river with the Water Education Foundation, based in Sacramento.
Venture through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
Most signs point to the State Water Board approving a much-disputed river flow plan next week that will mean less water for farms and cities in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The board, also known as the State Water Resources Control Board, is set to vote Wednesday to require irrigation districts to leave more water in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers in an effort to restore salmon.
Every year thousands of sockeye salmon meet their end in Hansen Creek, a pebble-strewn tributary of Lake Aleknagik in southwestern Alaska, whether from old age or at the paws and jaws of a brown bear. Either way, they’re almost certainly destined to rot away on the north-facing bank of the stream. That’s because professors, researchers and students have been systematically tossing their carcasses to that side of the creek for the last 20 years.
It might be the most gruesome element of the drought conditions that have gripped the West in recent years: salmon being cooked to death by the thousands in rivers that have become overheated as water flows dwindle. Now a federal judge in Seattle has directed the Environmental Protection Agency, in a ruling with implications for California and the Pacific Northwest, to find a way to keep river waters cool.
In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.
Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.
When you think of Scottish food, your first thought might be haggis, but the country’s number one food export is actually farmed Atlantic salmon. Last year, almost $786 million worth of Scottish salmon was exported globally, with the United States as its largest market. The aquaculture industry, which already contributes $2.85 billion to the U.K. economy, has ambitious targets for growth.
The rivers that once poured from the Sierra Nevada, thick with snowmelt and salmon, now languish amid relentless pumping, sometimes shriveling to a trickle and sparking a crisis for fish, wildlife and the people who rely on a healthy California delta. A state plan to improve these flows and avert disaster, however, has been mired in conflict and delays.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe is suing federal agencies for allegedly failing to reduce the numbers of endangered Coho salmon killed by fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, the tribe announced Wednesday. “Hoopa is making every effort to recover Coho salmon with this lawsuit,” said Vivienna Orcutt, a Hoopa tribal council member.
Rep. Jeff Denham, one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans, is trying desperately to shut down a state water plan that’s widely disliked in his district. But nothing has worked so far. One thing could: Yet another lawsuit between the Department of Justice and the state of California over the issue.
The event, called Run4Salmon, is part of the [Winnemem Wintu] tribe’s plans to change the course of history for endangered Chinook, once plentiful in this part of the world. … [Winnemem Chief Caleen] Sisk says heightening Shasta Dam would further harm salmon and flood ancestral land. She advocates for the construction of new swim-ways to bypass the dam to allow salmon to spawn above it.
The giant Douglas fir hit the water with a great splash just as a powerful gust of wind from the Chinook helicopter rotors blew across the river…. The charred trunk, weighing as much as 25,000 pounds, was one of 300 fire-damaged trees that the [Yurok Indian] tribe and its partners strategically placed in the South Fork of the Trinity River this past week in an attempt to alter the current, scour out accumulated sediment and restore long-lost salmon habitat in the river.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and some state representatives in the Bay Area are calling for voluntary settlement agreements, rather than a State Water Board proposal, to bolster the salmon population in tributaries of the San Joaquin River. In a letter Friday to water board chairwoman Felicia Marcus, Feinstein said a voluntary settlement will achieve more in restoring fish in the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers.
The rare spring-run chinook salmon is rarer than usual this year, according to counts in the three streams that support the bulk of the wild fish left in the Sacramento River system. In Butte Creek, a snorkel survey counted 2,118 fish this year, according to Colin Purdy, who supervises the count for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. That’s less than half the average since 1989 of 4,427 fish.
Canada and the U.S. states of Alaska, Oregon and Washington would all reduce their catch of fragile salmon species under the terms of an updated international agreement that, if approved, will spell out the next decade of cooperation between the U.S. and Canada to keep the migratory fish afloat in Pacific waters.
Dave Vogel already knew that levees and dams had devastated the coastal salmon population in California’s longest river. The surprise for the fisheries scientist arrived when he saw the video footage of young salmon clustered beneath bridges in the watery depths.
Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, has considerable influence over decision-making that could leave more water in rivers for salmon at the expense of irrigation districts in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
The rumble of heavy machinery might as well have been harp music to Todd Steiner, who stood on a bluff next to Lagunitas Creek in Marin County last week and admired the channels and trenches the belching excavators were digging out of the banks.
For thousands of years, the Klamath River has been a source of nourishment for the Northern California tribes that live on its banks. Its fish fed dozens of Indian villages along its winding path, and its waters cleansed their spirits, as promised in their creation stories.
An hour’s drive north of Sacramento sits a picture-perfect valley hugging the eastern foothills of Northern California’s Coast Range, with golden hills framing grasslands mostly used for cattle grazing.
Back in the late 1800s, pioneer John Sites built his ranch there and a small township, now gone, bore his name. Today, the community of a handful of families and ranchers still maintains a proud heritage.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But north of Sacramento, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat. And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
Farmers in the Central Valley are broiling about California’s plan to increase flows in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems to help struggling salmon runs avoid extinction. But in one corner of the fertile breadbasket, River Garden Farms is taking part in some extraordinary efforts to provide the embattled fish with refuge from predators and enough food to eat.
And while there is no direct benefit to one farm’s voluntary actions, the belief is what’s good for the fish is good for the farmers.
Two days of hearings before the State Water Resources Control Board created some hope of voluntary agreements with local irrigation districts, which are under pressure to release more water in rivers to help salmon. Tuesday and Wednesday, the state board heard heartfelt comments from people concerned about collapsing fish populations in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and fears about job losses and economic calamity in the Northern San Joaquin Valley if water rights are stripped from communities.
Critical pools on the lower Eel River where migrating salmon swim toward their upriver spawning grounds are once again saturated with sediment, according to local researchers and river surveyors. Eel River Recovery Project board member and salmon surveyor Eric Stockwell said the shallow pools and channels make it more likely fish will contract disease or become stranded as had occurred in previous years.
The Southern Resident orcas are under threat. For more than two weeks this August, a mother orca carried around her calf while the world watched her mourn. More recently, rescue teams have been desperately attempting to entice a starving young female orca to eat with live salmon feedings.
The sad story of an orca carrying her dead calf for 17 days off the Washington coast this month has garnered global attention to the plight of killer whales in the region. It has also highlighted the steep decline in the region’s salmon stocks, the resident orcas’ sole food source.
Klamath River salmon, freshly caught and cooked the traditional way over an open fire, is back on the menu at the Yurok Tribe’s 56th annual Klamath Salmon Festival, which is happening Saturday. … In 2016 and 2017, the tribe could not in good conscious serve Klamath salmon at the festival because the fish runs were so low, according to a Yurok Tribe press release.
One of the unintended consequences of the devastation of Carr Fire in Shasta County is that is has been providing more water to Klamath and Trinity river fish in a time when river conditions have been looking tenuous. Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Fisheries Director Mike Orcutt said the dam-controlling U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has nearly doubled flows on the Trinity River since late July.
Heather Sears has been fishing for salmon out of this unassuming coastal community for nearly two decades. This year, for the first time since she arrived in 1999, she won’t be going out to sea. “I just didn’t think we’d have much fish this year,” she was telling me in a chilly backroom of her newly opened fish market on the Noyo River, Fort Bragg’s marine thoroughfare.
It has been a beloved summer destination for generations of Northern California families, and a blue ribbon fishery for steelhead and salmon. It has been mined, diverted, and dammed, tapped for its water and used as a sewer. It has rampaged during torrential winter storms and shrunken to a tepid trickle during drought.
Following nine years of research, a California agency has proposed to increase water flows in the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. But the decision is causing contention between farmers and fisheries. … The California Water Board is scheduled to vote on the proposal in August.
Protecting winter-run chinook salmon that pass under the Golden Gate Bridge from November through May could be a key in the survival of killer whales that appear off Point Reyes, according to a new report. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries has developed a priority list of West Coast chinook salmon stocks that are important to the recovery of federally endangered “southern resident” killer whales.
San Francisco County alone added more than 120,000 jobs in five years – a huge leap in economic productivity that owes itself largely to the lucrative worlds of finance, technology and biotechnology. As people from around the country and the world continue clamoring to find their place in one of the most expensive and most congested cities, an important question is emerging in public discussions: Does California have enough water to go around, or will natural resources be sacrificed for economic success?
A 90-year-old defunct copper mine along the Trinity River that has been draining acidic runoff and heavy metals into the Trinity River is now being eyed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a candidate to become a Superfund cleanup site.
Fishermen and environmentalists are at odds over a suite of changes to American fishing laws that was approved by the House of Representatives, and the proposal faces a new hurdle in the Senate. The House passed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a 42-year-old set of rules designed to protect American fisheries from overharvest, on July 11, largely along party lines.
“Devastating” was how Karuk Tribe Executive Director Josh Saxon described the news that only 106 adult spring-run Chinook salmon were found on the Salmon River this year — believed to be the second lowest count on record. The results of the annual Salmon River fish count on Wednesday as well as poor river conditions on the Klamath River tributary has prompted concerns about the potential for a fish kill and the future viability of what some say is already an endangered species.
More than two decades after Los Angeles was forced to cut water diversions to protect California’s natural resources, the state is poised to impose similar restrictions on San Francisco and some of the Central Valley’s oldest irrigation districts. The proposal represents a dramatic new front in one of California’s most enduring water fights: the battle over the pastoral delta that is part of the West Coast’s largest estuary and also an important source of water for much of the state.
No one is popping the champagne corks just yet, but the process to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River just took a big step forward. On June 28, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation released the Definite Plan for the Lower Klamath Project, a 2,300-page detailed analysis of how the reservoirs would be drawn down, the dams removed, the materials disposed of and the formerly inundated land restored.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe notified federal agencies Wednesday of its intent to file a lawsuit claiming the agencies failed to follow their own protocols that are meant to protect Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon when they approved this year’s salmon fishing regulations.
The early 20th century wrought significant damage and changes to the Eel River and its fish populations through zealous overfishing and blockage of key tributaries by railroads and dams, which limited salmon and steelhead’s ability to recover. But projects are now underway to restore these tributaries to their previous state with the hope of simultaneously restoring the once bountiful runs in state’s third largest river basin.
In California’s small coastal streams, where hundreds of thousands of Coho salmon once returned each year to spawn, most wild populations now barely cling to survival. Habitat loss and intensive water use have pushed them to the brink; now climate change and increasing competition for water resources could send them over the edge.
State regulators proposed sweeping changes in the allocation of California’s water Friday, leaving more water in Northern California’s major rivers to help ailing fish populations — and giving less to farming and human consumption.
In late June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 2083, which would amend the 46-year-old Marine Mammal Protection Act to allow for state fisheries managers and tribal officials to kill as many as 930 sea lions a year on the Columbia and its tributaries to protect beleaguered fish populations.
More than two years after the 2015-16 Dungeness and rock crab seasons in California was marred by toxic algae blooms, the federal government this week has allocated $25.8M in disaster funds to relieve fishermen and businesses affected by the closure. The Yurok Tribe was also allocated nearly $4M in disaster relief for its 2016 commercial salmon season, which was closed due to low numbers of returning spawners.
Salmon season outside of the Golden Gate, delayed by two months this year, opened with phenomenal fishing on Sunday, also Father’s Day. Anglers landed full two-fish limits of chinooks from the waters six miles southeast of the Farallon Islands to the Deep Reef off the San Mateo County coast.
On a warm September Saturday in 2002, Amy Cordalis stood in a Yurok Tribal Fisheries Department boat on the Klamath River, in response to reports from fishermen that something was amiss on the river. On this stretch of the Yurok Reservation, the river was wide and deep, having wound its way from its headwaters at the Upper Klamath Lake, through arid south-central Oregon to the California coast.
Washington state must restore salmon habitat by removing barriers that block fish migration after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court order. The justices divided 4-4 in the long-running dispute that pits the state against Northwest Indian tribes and the federal government. The tie serves to affirm a lower court ruling.
For thousands, the salmon opener means months of buildup with no clear idea of what awaits next weekend off the Bay Area coast. This year’s opener, delayed for months by new rules, has become a mystery challenge.
This year’s commercial salmon season is putting local fishermen in a squeeze. The two separate openings in the first week of May and the last 12 days of June are meant to protect a scarce group of king, or chinook, salmon.
Chinook salmon, steelhead, and green sturgeon will soon have an easier path to the Sacramento River, and eventually their spawning grounds. Construction has begun on the Fremont Weir, which will allow the fish to travel from the Pacific Ocean back to their birthplace during spawning season, which takes place in early spring and ends just before the summer.
Two conservation groups said Tuesday a deal has been struck with commercial fishermen in Greenland and the Faroe Islands that will help thousands of vulnerable Atlantic salmon return to rivers in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Talks are scheduled to begin this week in Washington, D.C., to modernize the document that coordinates flood control and hydropower generation in the United States and Canada along the 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) Columbia River.
The California Water Commission – the entity responsible for awarding $2.7 billion in Proposition 1 funds to water storage projects in a few months – didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with officials pushing for Sites Reservoir, primarily on the benefits to salmon the project would provide.
Humboldt County tribes, fishermen, city officials and environmentalists on Tuesday called for the Board of Supervisors to support full removal of PG&E’s Potter Valley Project dams Tuesday after the utility company announced last week that it planned to auction off the project.
One billion dollars isn’t enough, Sites Reservoir supporters say. Despite being eligible for $1 billion in Proposition 1 funds from the state, a top official with the group spearheading Sites Reservoir said the state is failing to see the big picture in terms of the benefits the project would provide California, namely its endangered salmon.
Leaders from across the central San Joaquin Valley gathered Friday to promise people here they won’t give up the fight for Temperance Flat reservoir, one day after the California Water Commission decided to allocate minimal money to the project. But, project proponents said it was too soon to know exactly how they’ll proceed.
Usually open from at least May to September, this year’s California commercial salmon season is very limited because the current batch of adult salmon were born during the drought in 2015, which made their Sacramento River spawning grounds too warm and killed off many juvenile salmon.
The NOR-CAL Guides and Sportsmen’s Association and other fishing groups had spent more than a year pressuring state dam and fish-hatchery managers to raise extra fish to make up for the ones the fishing groups say were lost after the Oroville Dam spillway collapsed in February 2017.
Local tribes and environmental groups declared victory Tuesday after a federal judge shot down a bid by Klamath Basin farmers and water districts to block dam releases meant to prevent fish disease outbreaks. Basin irrigators argued the rain and snow fall in 2017 reduced the chance of fish disease outbreaks this year, but said drought conditions in the basin this year could cause significant economic impacts to their region if water deliveries are delayed by the dam releases.
Salmon season is usually open from May 1 to September or October along most of the coast. But this year, lingering drought-related effects will again limit fishing dramatically in California and Oregon.
The U.S. House approved a bill Wednesday that would reverse a federal judge’s order to spill more water from four Pacific Northwest dams to help migrating salmon reach the Pacific Ocean. The bill, approved 225-189, would prevent any changes in dam operations until 2022.
A controversial plan to log miles of Gualala River floodplain, including nearly century-old redwood trees just outside Gualala Point Regional Park, is back on track, setting the stage for a showdown in court or perhaps among the trees themselves.
Upper Skagit tribal fishermen caught a lively Atlantic salmon more than 40 miles up the Skagit River Tuesday, eight months after Cooke Aquaculture’s Atlantic salmon net pen collapsed at Cypress Island and sent more than 300,000 Atlantics into the home waters of Washington’s Pacific salmon.
On April 18, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Washington v. United States, which pits the state of Washington against the United States and 21 Indian tribes. The main question in the case is narrow – whether the state must quickly replace hundreds of culverts that allow the flow of water under roads but also block salmon migration. Yet the underlying issue is far broader.
Environmentalists who have fought loggers for generations have a surprising new strategy to save California’s storied old-growth redwood forests: Logging. Save the Redwoods League, a venerable San Francisco organization that has preserved more than 214,000 acres of redwood forest since it was founded in 1918, is embarking on a $5 million plan to thin out 10,000 acres of redwoods, Douglas fir, tan oaks and other trees.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) approved reduced recreational and commercial ocean salmon seasons for the West Coast on April 10. The reduction in fishing days this season amounts to cuts of about a third for the ocean sport fishery and over half of the commercial fishery, compared to a normal season.
Federal documents and emails provided to the Times-Standard contradict and call into question the Trump administration’s reasoning for disbanding a citizen’s watchdog group tasked with overseeing a multi-million dollar, publicly funded Trinity River restoration project.
Republican Congress members from the Pacific Northwest are upset with a federal judge’s order to spill water from four Snake River dams to help speed migrating salmon to the Pacific Ocean. They say the water could be saved for other uses and are denouncing the spill, which began April 3, and a push by environmentalists to remove the four dams to increase wild salmon runs.
On April 18, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Washington v. United States, which pits the state of Washington against the United States and 21 Indian tribes. The main question in the case is narrow – whether the state must quickly replace hundreds of culverts that allow the flow of water under roads but also block salmon migration. Yet the underlying issue is far broader.
A federal judge heard arguments from attorneys representing Klamath Basin tribes, irrigators and government agencies on Wednesday in a case that is challenging the need for dam water releases meant to protect threatened fish species on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
The 2 p.m. court hearing on Wednesday at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco will be overseen by William Orrick. Orrick’s ruling will potentially decide factors leading to a start date — or not — for [Klamath] Basin irrigators, in a lawsuit between Bureau of Reclamation vs. Yurok and Hoopa Tribes.
The Klamath River salmon season is set to reopen this year, according to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, giving fishermen and local tribes an opportunity make up the losses sustained by last year’s full closure of the fishery. The council — which makes recommendations to federal agencies on fishing rules — is set to finalize its decisions during its April 5-11 meetings in Portland, Oregon.
In an attempt to meet the needs of Klamath Basin irrigators and endangered fish species in the basin in a time of drought, a federal agency is proposing to reduce the amount of dam water releases to the Klamath River that are meant to protect threatened Coho salmon from deadly parasite outbreaks like those that occurred in 2014 and 2015.
A half-million baby spring-run salmon were released Monday into the Feather River, which is far less than normal, according to the Golden Gate Salmon Association. The fish were released downstream from the confluence with the Yuba River, according to the association. … This year the fish got a boost with stepped-up releases from the Oroville Dam complex.
We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
For fishery regulators, it is official: The Sacramento River’s fall-run Chinook salmon are “overfished.” … Now, as regulators discuss drastically shortening this year’s fishing season to reduce pressures on the population, embittered fishers are contesting the overfished status.
Local tribes’ say critically important dam water releases meant to protect threatened salmon on the Klamath River from deadly parasitic disease outbreaks are being contested by irrigators and water districts in the Klamath Basin as they face drought conditions.
Federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout respond to the rains, which create runoff and are a natural invitation for the fish to begin swimming from the oceans upstream into creeks to spawn in the Lagunitas Creek watershed. In December — a key month for coho migration — just .31 of an inch of rain fell in the county as measured by the Marin Municipal Water District.
While the orcas of Puget Sound are sliding toward extinction, orcas farther north have been expanding their numbers. Their burgeoning hunger for big fish may be causing the killer whales’ main prey, Chinook salmon, to shrink up and down the West Coast.
State and local fishing industry officials and regulators were united on Thursday in bashing the Trump administration’s plans to allow new offshore oil drilling in federal waters, saying it would add to the many threats the state’s fisheries are facing.
A group of Klamath Basin water users Wednesday filed a motion in federal court in San Francisco pushing for at least a delay in the court-ordered injunction to keep 50,000 acre feet held in reserve in Upper Klamath Lake. The water is to be used to flush out the Klamath River in the spring to mitigate the impact of disease on coho salmon.
For the past 80 years life has only gotten worse for winter-run chinook salmon. When Shasta and Keswick dams were built on the Sacramento River, they kept the salmon from getting to their ancestral spawning grounds, while smaller dams and diversions also were constructed on other streams where the salmon once spawned.
Seeking to stave off the extinction of a storied species, state and federal wildlife officials are releasing 200,000 hatchery-raised salmon into a restored High Sierra creek where once-magnificent winter runs were wiped out over the past century.
Alaskan fishing guide Jason Lesmeister stopped fishing for Chinook salmon more than a decade ago. The population, he said, “plummeted” on the Kenai River, his main fishing ground and a watershed renowned for producing enormous Chinooks, also called king salmon. But the fish aren’t just less abundant today. They’re also noticeably smaller.
Anglers hoping to catch Chinook salmon this year along the San Francisco Bay and in the Central Valley’s rivers are likely to see curtailed fishing seasons, due to poor fish numbers linked to California’s historic five-year drought.
After reviewing the Karuk Tribe’s November petition to recognize the spring-run salmon as a separate species from its fall-run counterparts and to list them as an endangered species, the National Marine Fisheries Service this week found the tribe’s request “may be warranted.” The federal agency will now begin a 12-month review before making a final decision on the tribe’s requests.
A third straight year of low king salmon runs is expected to deliver another blow to one of the North Coast’s most iconic and lucrative fisheries, wildlife managers indicated Thursday, as both regulators and fishermen faced the prospect of a federally mandated plan to reverse the trend and rebuild key stocks.
Three Republican U.S. House members are criticizing Democratic Sen. Patty Murray and other lawmakers for opposing their legislation that would prevent the breaching of four dams on the Snake River to restore endangered salmon runs.
Federal fisheries officials said Tuesday they will consider putting the Pacific Northwest’s once-flourishing wild spring-run Chinook salmon on the list of threatened or endangered species. The National Marine Fisheries Services plans a 12-month review on whether to give protected status to the salmon in and around the Klamath River.
A drought year similar to 2015’s dry conditions are anticipated by the Klamath Irrigation District, and without the financial resources available in 2015, as well as at least a week delay in water delivery to Klamath Project irrigators in April, according to Ty Kliewer, board president, on Friday.
As work to restore the San Joaquin River continues, scientists are seeing promising signs that salmon can thrive in the river as hatchery fish reach new milestones. A recent breakthrough came in fall 2017, when spring-run Chinook salmon created their nests, called redds, in the deeper and colder parts of the river below Friant Dam.
The Eel River was once home to one of the largest salmon populations on the West Coast. But for nearly a century, a large share of its flow has been diverted for hydroelectric power and irrigation, helping build Northern California into a world powerhouse of winemaking. … So it should come as no surprise that the prospect of ending those water diversions is stirring concern across the region.
The project is called the Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields Project. It’s part of a greater effort to restore threatened fish species — the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program. The project comes at a key time: A recent UC Davis study suggests that winter run chinook salmon could go extinct if efforts to recover the species aren’t taken up.
The federal government’s top fisheries experts say that three widely used pesticides — including the controversial insecticide chlorpyrifos — are jeopardizing the survival of many species of salmon, as well as orcas that feed on those salmon. It’s a fresh attack on a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency was ready to take off the market a year ago — until the Trump administration changed course.
The U.S. government will temporarily stop killing beavers in Oregon after environmental groups threatened a lawsuit alleging the practice reduces the number of dams that create deep pools that are ideal habitat for young, endangered coho salmon.
In a new study published this week in Biological Conservation, researchers from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, NOAA Fisheries, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory used salmon otolith (“earstone”) chemistry to reveal the migration patterns and secret hang out spots used by juvenile winter run on their way to the ocean.
We ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.
A team of researchers and Marysville rice farmers initiated a study this week in Yuba County to see if introducing fish to a flooded rice field could both reduce methane emissions and allow for a new reliable protein source.
Biologists assumed baby winter-run Chinook salmon hung out in the Sacramento River where they hatched until they grew large enough to make the trip downstream to the Pacific Ocean. A recently released scientific study challenges that assumption – and may have implications in how fisheries agencies manage Sacramento Valley waterways to protect the critically endangered fish.
It could be a record year for salmon on the Mokelumne River, but not without some extraordinary human intervention. More than 15,200 adult salmon had returned to the fish hatchery below Camanche Dam as of last week. … This year’s strong return is good news in part because it shows how changes in hatchery operations can help fish survive the aftermath of a devastating drought.
It appears this is an average year for the number of fall-fun Chinook Salmon returning to spawn in the American River. The numbers were expected to be much lower because of high water temperatures and predators when the fish were juveniles heading to the ocean during the drought.
A fish species rarely seen south of Washington state has turned up more than 700 miles away in Lagunitas Creek, part of what has been dubbed a strange beginning to the spawning season. In recent years attention on the Lagunitas Creek watershed has been focused on federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout, with efforts made to restore habitat to help those fish.
Thousands of salmon make the grueling journey from the Pacific Ocean up the American River each fall. The spawning run ends for many with a whack on the head at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery, where salmon eggs are gathered and fertilized.
Salmon and steelhead trout are migrating to the Mokelumne River just east of Lodi in what could be record numbers. … Abundant rainfall last year helped to release more water from Camanche Reservoir to help move the salmon up the river.
This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway.
Last spring, the outlook for California’s 2017 Chinook salmon fishing season was dire. Years of drought had taken a toll on the rivers where salmon spawn, reducing them to lukewarm trickles. As a result, the number of adult fish was seriously depleted, reported scientists with the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
They may not have been salivating, but fishers were definitely savoring the moment Wednesday when 160,000 finger-size baby salmon were poured from a tube out of a tanker truck into a net pen at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay.
Salmon crowded in and around the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery on Thursday, offering leaping and squiggling proof of what so far is a near-record return of the big pinkish delicacies after several years of low breeding numbers. … The Mokelumne, one of California’s major salmon-producing rivers, flows from the Sierra foothills through the Central Valley.
The Klamath River is the site of what could be the largest dam removal project in the nation’s history, but there are still several hurdles to jump before the dams come down and many more if they do. Fortuna resident Neil Palmer was one of more than 40 people who attended an open house at Eureka’s Adorni Center on Thursday evening to learn more about the now 7-year-old project.
The Bristol Bay watershed, in southwest Alaska, comprises 40,000 square miles of bogs and evergreen forests, rimmed by distant mountains and shimmering with rivers and feeder streams. In these waterways, miracles happen. Together they sustain the largest remaining salmon fishery on Earth.
Removing Shasta Dam is the single best action we can take to save California’s wild salmon. Not possible, you say? Then there are two alternatives. One is to provide plenty of cold water and diverse, highly managed habitat below dams. The other is to transport fish to now-inaccessible habitat above dams.
The specter of rain washing potentially toxic ash from thousands of burned homes into sensitive Sonoma County watersheds has injected a new sense of urgency to local fire cleanup efforts, with the immediate focus shifting to erosion control needed to safeguard water quality.
State regulators and fishing officials said at a Eureka hearing on Friday that only by working together can they overcome the trials and uncertainty that several California’s fisheries face today. … The federal government declared a fishery disaster in January for the 2015-2016 California Dungeness crab season and the Yurok Tribe’s 2016 salmon season because of season delays and poor catch.
In Southern California, the mountain yellow-legged frog, of which there were about 400 living in remote, drying streams in the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains, could face a hard winter after fires destroyed their habitat.
Over the past several weeks crews have been out on Whiskeytown Lake repairing the temperature curtains in the water near the Visitors Center. … The curtains are an important part of the bureau’s Central Valley Project, which includes Trinity and Lewiston dams and Shasta and Keswick dams.
For many homeowners in Sonoma and Napa counties, nothing could have been more welcome than the splashing of rain that fell on Northern California last Thursday – the first significant precipitation in about five months.
With the California crab season opener approaching and a poor salmon season winding down, a California legislative committee is set to meet in Eureka on Friday to discuss what the future holds for two of the North Coast’s most important fisheries.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration think two main factors caused low numbers of spring-run chinook salmon to return this year: drought and abnormally warm temperatures.
Fisheries officials plan to turn a series of ponds in the Henderson Open Space into a side channel of the Sacramento River that will be used for salmon rearing habitat. The Western Shasta Resource Conservation District plans to excavate the channels and connect them to the river, creating a safe space for young salmon and other fish.
This fall, the number of chinook salmon making their way from the ocean up the Klamath River in the far northwest corner of California is the lowest on record. That’s devastating news for the Yurok tribe, which has lived along and fished the Klamath for centuries.
When Bay Area steelhead were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1997, [Jeff] Miller suddenly had a lot of help realizing his dream of restoring migratory fish in the Bay Area. … Since then, local, state and federal agencies and organizations have collaborated on restoring steelhead in Alameda Creek.
The owners of Don Pedro Reservoir made their pitch Tuesday for how it can serve both people and Tuolumne River fish over the next half-century. The boards of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts each voted 5-0 at separate meetings to submit their final application for a new federal license for the project.
The number of salmon returning to spawn at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson could reach historic lows this year — a legacy of the five-year drought that ended last year. At this time of year dozens of salmon would normally be teeming in the waters of Battle Creek near the hatchery.
Where are all the fish? That’s what hatchery workers are wondering, left scratching their heads after seeing low levels for spring-run Chinook salmon – about a third of the average for this time period.
Scientists at U.C. Davis have found a genetic distinction between Chinook salmon that migrate in spring and fall. That has a Northern California tribe calling to make spring Chinook an endangered species. But some farmers are skeptical.
It’s not every day that logging practices are put to use to restore salmon habitat. But for the past two weeks along the foggy, redwood-strewn banks of San Vicente Creek that’s exactly what has been taking place.
Documents filed with state regulators show that a fish farm that broke apart Aug. 19 in the San Juan Islands released more than 160,000 farm-raised Atlantic salmon into Washington state waters — far more than the original estimate — and that the holding pen for the fish was “due for complete replacement.” … The accident prompted state and Native tribal officials to declare a fish emergency.
The state of Washington is calling all fishermen to catch unlimited farmed Atlantic salmon with no size or weight limits after a net pen broke last week, allowing thousands of the non-native fish to escape into the open ocean.
A coalition of government agencies and advocates for sustainable fisheries came together Tuesday to launch a long-term effort to save California’s beleaguered salmon populations in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems. … The partnership deal was signed Tuesday by John Laird, California’s secretary for natural resources.
Investigators have confirmed that a federal water agency misspent $32 million in funds meant to protect fish and wildlife in the Klamath basin of California and Oregon, a finding that Obama-era officials attempted to sideline after whistleblowers first alerted them to it.
A study published Wednesday by researchers at UC Davis may have major conservation implications for salmon in California and the Pacific Northwest. The study provides new evidence that “springers” and other salmon that migrate upstream from the ocean to spawn early in the year are genetically different than later migrating populations.
A dismal salmon run in the Klamath River has forced the Yurok Tribe — which normally catches its salmon from the Klamath River — to purchase the fish from an outside source for its annual Salmon Festival on Saturday.
The state Department of Water Resources is beginning to lay the gravel foundation for spawning salmon. This comes as much of the gravel was washed away with high flows from the Oroville Dam spillway this winter.
Congressional appropriation committees are considering whether to provide millions of dollars in disaster relief funds to West Coast fishing fleets as part of the 2018 federal budget. … The disaster declaration made in January by then-U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker includes California’s Dungeness and rock crab fishery as well as the Yurok Tribe’s Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery.
Another troubling sign of the poor state of this year’s Pacific Ocean salmon runs was discovered on one the Klamath River’s tributaries after an annual fish survey counted the second lowest number of spring-run Chinook salmon on record.
The State Water Resources Control Board announced in September that it plans to return the San Joaquin River to 40 percent of its “unimpaired flow.” … The goal, according to the water board, is to rebalance water demand on the state’s second-largest river. … The board plans a similar process for the Sacramento River, the state’s largest river.
With New Zealand’s Southern Alps looming above, about 30 members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe from Northern California sat on the windswept bank of the Rakaia River cradling in their hands dark and wormy salmon fry, a long-lost relative finally found. As they released the salmon into a gurgling rivulet, a couple of Winnemem broke down in tears while others began softly singing a prayer song, barely louder than the breeze.
Under a purple pre-dawn sky, a small group of Northern Californian Indians ventured out onto the wet sand where the mighty Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. They had come to honor and fight for the salmon that have sustained their ancient culture for generations.
From hundreds of fish annually to nearly 9,000 per year, Butte Creek salmon are thriving, thanks to a project begun 20 years ago. That project was celebrated Thursday at Gorrill Ranch on the Midway. … Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior for the Clinton administration, helped bring the players to the negotiating table to get the Butte Creek Salmon Recovery Project, completed in the late 1990s.
The National Park Service has plans to replace aging sewer and water lines in the Muir Woods National Monument that could cause “significant damage” to the environment if they rupture, including to Redwood Creek, home to delicate fish populations.
Quick thinkers who came up with a plan to rescue millions of salmon using fresh water from fire hydrants during the Oroville Dam emergency were recognized for their efforts Sunday by legislators, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and other entities.
This year has brought the mighty river flows that environmental and fishing groups say are vital to salmon. A farmer or city water user might disagree: Yes, the fish need high water at times, but not at the 2017 volume. And we should be adding reservoir space to carry over the excess for dry years ahead.
To no one’s surprise Tuesday, the Turlock Irrigation District board endorsed Tuolumne River fishery improvements that do not involve boosting reservoir releases. Directors voted 5-0 to support a proposal made by San Francisco in response to a state effort to sharply increase flows for salmon and other native fish on this and nearby rivers.
State officials released a strategic plan Friday aimed at reducing risks associated with different stages of migration for salmon and steelhead throughout the Sacramento Valley river system. “These resiliency strategies are an exciting new path for improving conditions for fish and wildlife in the Sacramento Valley,” said David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association.
Pieces of the Feather River Fish Hatchery have been patched back together in time for the return of spring-run chinook salmon. However, the shoveling, shifting and trucking will continue for a while until its smooth swimming for the important fish-rearing station on Table Mountain Boulevard.
The discussion of flows on the lower Tuolumne River will return to the Turlock Irrigation District boardroom Tuesday. Directors will consider endorsing a proposal from San Francisco, another river user, that is an alternative to the major flow increases sought by a state agency for native salmon and steelhead trout.
State and federal agencies have big plans to change the way water flows through Anderson River Park. … The test pits are being dug to prepare for a project that would create a place where young salmon can eat, grow and get ready for their migration out to the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
California Gov. Jerry Brown and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called on the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Thursday to declare a federal fisheries disaster due to this year’s unprecedented low number of ocean salmon, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Four or five Friday nights” of work has paid off for Briana Conners, who recently won $10,000 for her winning entry in a contest seeking proposals to get fish past tall dams like Shasta Dam. … While the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation sponsored the contest to solicit ideas for getting fish around tall dams, the agency is specifically interested in finding ways to get young endangered salmon around Shasta Dam.
Already faced with unprecedented low numbers of returning salmon and drastically reduced fishing allowances, California’s fishing fleets and communities are not expected to find any relief in the next few years, according to testimony by a host of experts and regulators at the State Capitol on Wednesday.
Before dams were built on the upper Sacramento River, flood water regularly carried woody debris that was an important part of the aquatic habitat.
Deprived of this refuge, salmon in the lower parts of the upper Sacramento River have had a difficult time surviving and making it down the river and out to the ocean. Seeing this, a group of people, including water users, decided to lend a hand with an unprecedented pilot project that saw massive walnut tree trunks affixed to 12,000-pound boulders and deposited into the deepest part of the Sacramento River near Redding to provide shelter for young salmon and steelhead migrating downstream.
With one report saying the state is facing an unprecedented loss of fish species, a local group has won $158,000 to look at how water released from Kent Lake affects local coho salmon and steelhead trout. The Marin Municipal Water District — the agency that operates the Kent Lake reservoir — is under a 1995 state Water Resources Control Board order to release water periodically to aid federally endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout.
Before dams were built on the upper Sacramento River, flood water regularly carried woody debris that was an important part of the aquatic habitat. Deprived of this refuge, salmon in the lower parts of the upper Sacramento River have had a difficult time surviving and making it down the river and out to the ocean.
A harrowing report released by the environmental nonprofit organization California Trout and the University of California Davis on Tuesday states that nearly 75 percent of the state’s 31 salmon, steelhead and trout species are likely to become extinct within the next century if current trends continue.
Researchers have issued a dire warning for California’s native trout and salmon: Three-quarters of them will be extinct in the next 100 years unless urgent action is taken. This bleak assessment came Tuesday from biologists at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and from California Trout, a nonprofit advocacy group.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has pulled the plug on plans to release a quarter-million hatchery-born Chinook salmon into Bodega Bay after several North Bay conservation groups demanded the agency first conduct a full environmental review.
The two bills written by [Congressman Jared] Huffman and [Congresswoman Jackie] Speier would provide nearly $22.5 million in relief funds to the Yurok Tribe to aid salmon fishing communities and salmon restoration and monitoring projects. The bills would also provide more than $117 million for California Dungeness crab and rock crab fishermen affected by the delayed 2015-16 season.
Then-Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared a fisheries disasters for nine West Coast fisheries in January, including for the 2015-16 crab season in California and the 2016 salmon season for the Yurok Tribe. California 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) was one of 17 members of Congress who drafted a bipartisan letter to congressional party leaders in early April urging that they include the disaster funds in the new spending bill.
For anyone who wants to get out on the Sacramento River and fish the section of water from Keswick Dam to Highway 44, time is running out. The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday approved permanently closing that section of the river to all fishing from the beginning of April to the end of July every year.
[California 2nd District Congressman Jared] Huffman and a bipartisan group of 16 other legislators are urging congressional appropriation committees to include fisheries disaster funding in the spending bill for fishing fleets in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California, which includes the California crab fleet and the Yurok Tribe salmon fishing fleet.
The fall-run Chinook fishery on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers will be closed in 2017. On Thursday, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to close both rivers to the take of any size Chinook salmon after the fall seasons begin — Aug. 15 on the Klamath and Aug. 31 on the Trinity.
Native American communities are bracing for a public health crisis this year in California’s misty, rugged northwestern corner. In the Pacific Ocean off the mouth of the Klamath River, record-low numbers of fall-run adult Chinook salmon are ready to make their annual migration up the river and its primary tributary, the Trinity River, to spawn.
The top West Coast fishery council has recommended the full closure of the sport and commercial Chinook salmon fisheries near the Klamath River for the 2017-18 season. The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s recommendation Tuesday was expected after it forecast the lowest return of Klamath River Chinook salmon on record, with about 12,000 fish expected to return.
For the first time in its history, the Karuk Tribe will be limiting ceremonial salmon harvests for tribal members because of the record low forecast for returning Chinook salmon on the Klamath River. … The tribe’s announcement came as the Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Sacramento to discuss catch limitations for this year’s salmon season.
For the second year in a row, California officials are likely to shorten the chinook salmon season, making the local specialty costly and hard to find throughout the summer and possibly beyond. … The low numbers are due to lingering effects of the drought, because impacts on the population are felt about three or four years behind years with little rain.
California tribes and fishermen stated Thursday they will be calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a fisheries disaster because of the dismal forecast for this year’s salmon season. … These statements came exactly a year after top state, federal and tribal officials gathered at the mouth of the Klamath River to sign a renewed agreement to remove four dams from the river.