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.
It was a Friday in late August when four jet boats made their
way up the Klamath River under a cloudless blue sky. The boats
carried three tribal chairs. From the Karuk Tribe, there was
Russell “Buster” Attebery, who’d found pride as a boy catching
salmon from the river and bringing them home to his family, and
later come to believe some tribal youth’s troubles — from
suicides to substance use — could be traced back to their never
having had that opportunity, growing up alongside a river now
choked with algae and diminishing fish populations.
Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors today approved an
agreement that adds the Cordua Irrigation District to the
historic Lower Yuba River Accord, a model water management
agreement that supports endangered salmon and steelhead,
ensures water supplies for cities and farms and reduces
conflict over water use.
A man accused of illegally repairing a levee and damaging
sensitive aquatic habitat in the Suisun Marsh is facing a $2.8
million fine following a California appeals court decision last
month. John Sweeney, who ran a kiteboarding club on Point
Buckler Island in Solano County after buying it in 2011, must
also abide by a clean up and abatement order that requires him
to restore the marshlands and tidal channels damaged during the
A recent global assessment, released by 16 conservation
organizations, of the world’s freshwater fish species found
that nearly a third are at risk of extinction. Overfishing and
climate change are the most significant and pervasive drivers
of the global decline in freshwater biodiversity, but the
blockages created by dams and the introduction of non-native
species have also played significant roles. The news is
distressing, yet CalTrout sees this as a call to action. Our
organization works diligently to ensure resilient wild fish
thrive in healthy waters.
A forecast of relatively low numbers of Sacramento and Klamath
River fall Chinook salmon now swimming in the ocean off
the California coast points to restricted ocean and
river salmon fishing seasons in 2021. State and
federal fishery managers during the California Department of
Fish and Wildlife’s salmon fishery information on-line meeting
on February 25 forecast an ocean abundance this year of 271,000
adult Sacramento Valley fall Chinook salmon, about 200,000 fish
lower than the 2020 estimate.
California’s rivers, wetlands, and other freshwater ecosystems
are in poor health. Water management practices, pollution,
habitat change, invasive species, and a changing climate have
all taken a toll, leaving many native species in dire straits.
And the current approach for managing freshwater ecosystems is
not working. In this video Jeff Mount, senior fellow at the
PPIC Water Policy Center, discusses the many benefits these
ecosystems bring to California, and outlines a path for
improving their condition to secure these benefits for future
The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources
plan to allocate approximately 5 million acre feet of water
this year – as long as California allows them to effectively
drain the two largest reservoirs in the state, potentially
killing most or nearly all the endangered winter-run Chinook
salmon this year, threatening the state’s resilience to
continued dry conditions, and maybe even violating water
quality standards in the Delta.
Though the nonprofit tasked with Klamath River dam removal is
about to submit its definite plan to federal regulators, Del
Norte County and the Crescent City Harbor District are still
worried about potential negative impacts. Harbor commissioners
on Thursday agreed to sign onto a memorandum of understanding
that includes the county and the Klamath River Renewal
Corporation. The MOU contains conditions that ensures the
harbor and county can recover potential damages to the port and
the fishing industry that occur as a result of dam removal and
reservoir drawdown on the Klamath River.
How do you factor in climate change? It can be a worrisome
question, yet, it’s one that rightfully so demands an answer. A
question that seems to loom over us, especially those who work
within and on behalf of the environment. Yet, it might be
difficult to notice the effects of climate change on Putah
Creek. A walk along the creek exposes you to native riparian
habitat and birds aplenty. Surely, the Chinook salmon return to
their historic spawning habitat along Putah Creek could only
signal a more healthy and stabilized habitat. -Written by Alli Permann, Putah Creek Council Education
Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties could play host to
part of the largest new designation of federal wilderness in a
decade if Democratic sponsors of the land-protection package
can find a way through the divided U.S. Senate. A bill
sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, would designate
257,797 of new acres of wilderness in Northern California while
placing 480 miles of river in the region under the nation’s
strictest environmental protections for waterways.
Michael Preston grew up in the old village site of the Winnemem
Wintu tribe, along the McCloud River in Northern California
where the Shasta Dam has flooded spiritual and cultural lands.
Since the 1940s, the creation of the dam has also blocked the
usual migration of winter-run salmon, effectively endangering
the species. Now, there are proposals to raise the dam by an
additional 18.5 feet, which will cause further destruction.
“Our tribal goal is to bring the salmon back … ” he said,
adding that it’s more than just the fish. With the lack of
salmon, which is a keystone species, other animals, such as
bears, eagles and mountain lions are being starved.
The organization River Partners teamed up with California State
Parks and Butte County Resource Conservation District on
Thursday to host a flood plain restoration and
reforestation event. The event was called the
Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park Riparian Restoration
Project and was held near the Pine Creek Access point of the
Sacramento River in Chico.
San Francisco has long been an international leader on
environmental issues. However, water policy has been a stain on
that record. … Many California rivers are overtapped by
excessive pumping, but few are in worse condition than the
Tuolumne River. In drier years, more than 90% of the Tuolumne’s
water is diverted. On average, 80 percent of the river’s flow
never makes it to the Bay. It’s not a surprise that the river’s
health has collapsed. …
-Written by Bill Martin, a member of the Sierra Club
Bay Chapter Water Committee, and Hunter Cutting, a member
of the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s San Francisco Group Executive
Former Assemblymember Christy Smith announced that she has been
appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve on the Delta
Stewardship Council. … The Council was created to advance the
state’s coequal goals for the Delta – a more reliable statewide
water supply and a healthy and protected ecosystem, both
achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique
characteristics of the Delta as an evolving place.
As Executive Officer Jessica R. Pearson identified in her
December blog on the Delta Adapts initiative, “social
vulnerability means that a person, household, or community has
a heightened sensitivity to the climate hazards and/or a
decreased ability to adapt to those hazards.” With an eye
toward social vulnerability and environmental justice along
with the coequal goals in mind, we launched our Delta Adapts
climate change resilience initiative in 2018.
A local environmental group is urging the State Water Board to
investigate alleged water diversion from Gaviota Creek, an
action they assert is being done illegally and threatening the
population of endangered Southern Steelhead fish. Coastal
Ranches Conservancy, an environmental protection group that
operates along the Gaviota Coast, sent a petition to the State
Water Board back in June 2020, requesting that officials
examine water removal from Gaviota Creek. The CRC alleges that
the water diversion is happening illegally to provide water to
Gaviota rest stops.
Conservation groups said 80 species were known to have gone
extinct, 16 in the last year alone. Millions of people rely on
freshwater fish for food and as a source of income through
angling and the pet trade. But numbers have plummeted due to
pressures including pollution, unsustainable fishing, and the
damming and draining of rivers and wetlands. The report said
populations of migratory fish have fallen by three-quarters in
the last 50 years. Over the same time period, populations of
larger species, known as “megafish”, have crashed by 94%.
California’s environmental permitting system was developed to
prevent bad things from happening to the environment, but it
often slows efforts to do good things, too. How can California
improve regulatory processes to make them more efficient and
effective? The PPIC Water Policy Center recently discussed
these issues with a group of experts…
Coho salmon have recently been observed higher upstream in
Fortuna’s Rohner Creek than in previous years, thanks in part
to stream and habitat improvements completed last year. Flow
monitoring for fish passage at the 12th Street culvert has been
underway and the results are being finalized according to city
consultant, GHD Civil Engineer Brett Vivyan.
The largest dam removal in United States history is set to take
place along the Klamath River by 2023, but getting to this
point was neither easy nor quick. Water management, especially
in densely populated and water-scarce places like California,
is a challenge from practically every aspect: ownership and
operations of water infrastructure, local politics, maintenance
costs, and sustainability concerns.
Scientists at Oregon State University and the U.S. Forest
Service have demonstrated that DNA extracted from water samples
from rivers across Oregon and Northern California can be used
to estimate genetic diversity of Pacific salmon and trout. The
findings, just published in the journal Molecular Ecology, have
important implications for conservation and management of these
species, which are threatened by human activities, including
those exacerbating climate change.
There has been recent commentary and discussion around a
commodity futures market for water in California. In the
Sacramento Valley, we are not involved in this process; nor are
we participating in these contracts. Although we are not
entirely clear on this market or what is being traded, it is
clear that this new market does not involve real/wet
water–which is our focus in the Sacramento Valley. We will
continue to focus on serving water for cities and rural
communities, farms, fish, birds, other wildlife and recreation.
For the better part of the last two centuries, the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has been modified in any number of
ways to meet the demands of Californians. But a new
wide-ranging study looks at what might be the most serious
Delta threat that doesn’t come in the form of an excavator –
Following a disappointing 2019 adult fall run on the Klamath,
2020 proved to be only slightly better. Unfortunately, the
numbers weren’t enough to get us out of the “overfished”
category, and it’s likely we’ll have some severe
restrictions both in the ocean and in the Klamath and Trinity
rivers in 2021. … According to CDFW, the number of returning
fall run kings in 2020 was 45,407, about half the long-term
average. In 2019 only 37,270 adult kings returned. The return
of fall Chinook jacks was 9,037 fish, which is also below the
long-term average of 17,740.
Modern forecasting methods fueled by advances in understanding
and predicting atmospheric river storms have enabled U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (USACE) operators to better optimize water
resources at Lake Mendocino, a Northern California reservoir. A
multi-agency report issued Feb. 4, 2021, describes how
these forecasting tools have helped operators increase the
lake’s dry season stores of drinking water, improve its ability
to alleviate flood risk, and enhance environmental conditions
in the downstream Russian River to support salmonid
Last month in an announcement on Business Wire, the Klamath
River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) and Resource Environmental
Solutions (RES) announced they have signed a contract for RES
to provide restoration services in connection with the removal
of four dams on the Klamath River. The agreement between RES
and KRRC finalizes habitat restoration, maintenance, and
liability transfer responsibilities for a fixed price, opening
the door to a successful restoration of native vegetation and
anadromous fish habitat along the historical, pre-dam path of
the Klamath River.
Federal scientists and regulators repeatedly complained they
were sidelined by Donald Trump’s administration when they
warned of risks to wildlife posed by a California water
management plan, according to newly unveiled documents.
Scientists studying annual salmon runs in Putah Creek are still
waiting for the absolute proof that fry born in the creek and
leave for the ocean as juveniles are returning to spawn.
However, since identifying one spawning fish in 2017 that was
identified with a Putah Creek-Feather River origin, the
University of California, Davis, and NOAA scientists have been
collecting additional samples each year for analysis.
In the Pacific Northwest, several species of salmon are in
danger of extinction. The Washington State Recreation and
Conservation Office has released a report on the
state of salmon populations in the state’s watersheds — and the
findings predict a grim future. … The population changes
aren’t surprising to [scientist Daniel] Pauly. “This is what
happens when temperature increases,” he said. “The fish are
looking for the temperatures that they are attuned to, and if
those temperatures are farther north, they move farther north.
If you make a map from high arctic Alaska to California, the
salmon stocks in California are essentially dead.”
A Northern California water users’ association has filed a
motion against a $450 million plan to tear down four dams on
the Klamath River they claim irrevocably hurts local
homeowners. The motion was filed with the Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission (FERC) last Wednesday by the Murphy and
Buchal Law firm on behalf of the Siskiyou County Water Users
Association. It claims the interstate agreement reached by
Oregon and California last year to remove the dams has incurred
“irreparable damage” to lakefront home values in the COPCO Lake
area as water levels are feared to decline.
It might be hard to imagine that it has already been more than
five years since we exited the extreme dry years of 2014 and
2015. At that time, local, state and federal water managers
were taking unprecedented actions in response to the dry
conditions to maximize beneficial uses and every Californian
was feeling the impact of multiple dry years. … In their
blog earlier this year, Fritz Durst and Brent Hastey outlined
much of the work that has occurred since 2015 to prepare
for the next dry year. In addition to those actions, we also
have worked to better identify the timing and quantity of water
needed during dry years to maximize habitat benefits with
Save the Redwoods League today announced the successful
protection of Mailliard Ranch, a 14,838-acre property in
southern Mendocino County and the largest coast redwood forest
left in private family hands. The $24.7 million project secures
three conservation easements across the entire property, which
safeguard the land from subdivision and development, regardless
of future ownership. In addition to protecting sustainable
working forests across nearly 14,000 acres, the easement
protects nearly 1,000 acres of reserves, including old-growth
coast redwoods, mature mixed-conifer forest and salmon-bearing
As long as people have lived in Pasadena, water has been an
essential element for the life-style, health and economy of our
region. Now, however, Pasadena faces a severe water crisis.
This never has been an easy need to resolve, but population,
growth and climate change have made the development of a
sustainable or resilient water program an even greater
necessity for the future. It’s not just a challenge
for Pasadena, but also for all of California, and even the
nation. -Written by Tim Brick, the Managing Director of the Arroyo
Shortly after taking office two years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom
promised to deliver a massive compromise deal on the water
rushing through California’s major rivers and the
critically-important Delta — and bring lasting peace to the
incessant water war between farmers, cities, anglers and
environmentalists. … [C]oming to an agreement as promised
will require Newsom’s most artful negotiating skills. He’ll
have to get past decades of fighting and maneuvering, at the
same time California is continuing to recover from the worst
wildfire season in modern state history and a pandemic that has
since killed more than 42,000 state residents.
The Klamath River Renewal Corporation last week signed an
agreement with Resource Environmental Solutions, a Texas-based
ecological restoration company, to provide restoration services
following the removal of four dams on the Klamath River. The
agreement with RES brings North Coast tribes one step closer to
their decades-long goal of dam removal.
Cascadian Farm, a pioneering brand in the organic movement,
announced its commitment of $750,000 to The Nature Conservancy
to help rebuild farmland in California’s Sacramento Valley. The
two-year investment will focus on partnering with farmers to
rebuild wildlife habitat and regenerate groundwater on more
than 25 million square feet, equal to 600 acres of farmland, in
this key sourcing region for the brand.
While wetter streets and a greener White House may offer San
Franciscans some hope for the future, the situation remains
dire for salmon in the Tuolumne River. … [I]t’s hard not to
feel that the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s water
policies are partially to blame. Californians are significantly
reducing or eliminating dependence on river water. But the
SFPUC continues to side with agricultural users to fight
limitations on the water it takes from the Tuolumne. -Written by Robyn Purchia, an environmental attorney,
blogger and activist
In an act of cultural appreciation, two open spaces in Redding
are being renamed using the native Wintu language. What has
been known as the Henderson Open Space along the bank of the
Sacramento River in the heart of the city will now be known as
“Nur Pon Open Space.” About $5-million have been spent in the
area in the last 10 years, including the construction of a
salmon spawning channel.
Sacramento, at least, is excited about Washington’s new climate
direction. Jared Blumenfeld and Wade Crowfoot head California’s
environmental protection and natural resources agencies,
respectively. Last week, they discussed with KQED’s Kevin Stark
what the change from the Trump to Biden administrations might
mean for California. … The president’s order to triple
protected land and waterways across the country should also
infuse the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land
Management with badly needed funds.
On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we are
speaking with Sacramento Bee environment reporter Ryan Sabalow
about his five part investigation, Nothing Wild: California’s
relationship with the animal kingdom is broken. Can it be
fixed? Invasive grasses are causing fires to explode, thousands
of water birds are dying miserable deaths, and the sage grouse
is at risk of disappearing forever. Sabalow explores
California’s ecological crisis and our relationship with its
The organization tasked with removing four dams on the Klamath
River has contracted with Resource Environmental Solutions to
spearhead habitat restoration work. The Bellaire, Texas firm
will be the lead restoration contractor for the project led by
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation. In hiring RES, KRRC
meets federal and state permitting requirements, according to a
Friday news release from Business Wire.
As we welcome the Biden and Harris administration to the White
House and a new California legislature into session, CalTrout
has taken some time to reflect and prepare for 2021. … We
have already seen glimpses of changes and good news: the
omnibus bill, passed in late 2020, offered restoration funding
for a key watershed. The executive orders signed on January
20th seek to restore science as our guiding light, and CalTrout
has an ambitious California advocacy agenda for 2021.
California researchers now investigating the source of [the
Sacramento River's Chinook] salmon’s nutritional problems find
themselves contributing to an international effort to
understand thiamine deficiency, a disorder that seems to be on
the rise in marine ecosystems across much of the planet. It’s
causing illness and death in birds, fish, invertebrates, and
possibly mammals, leading scientists from Seattle to
Scandinavia to suspect some unexplained process is compromising
the foundation of the Earth’s food web by depleting ecosystems
of this critical nutrient.
The official salmon count for Putah Creek revealed just 140
individuals for the winter run. That was down from 550 reported
last year and close to the same number the year before that,
and is considerably lower than the peak of nearly 2,000 fish
during the 2017 run. One count put the number for the 2019
report at closer to 1,500 fish.
Today, 95% of the Central Valley’s historical floodplains are
cut off from the river by levees. Built in the early 1900s to
combat devastating floods, levees and bypasses were constructed
to corral mighty rivers and push water quickly through the
system. Even before invasive species, large rim dams, and Delta
water export facilities were introduced into the system, salmon
populations started to dramatically decline with the
construction of the levees. Simply put, the levees prevented
Chinook salmon from accessing their primary food source.
[T]he decades-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams
that clog the upper Klamath River should be seen not simply
through an environmental and economic lens but also a social
justice one, according to Craig Tucker, a natural resources
consultant for the Karuk Tribe.
If you look deep into the eyes of a fish, it will tell you its
life story. Scientists from the University of California,
Davis, demonstrate that they can use stable isotopic analysis
of the eye lenses of freshwater fish—including threatened and
endangered salmon—to reveal a fish’s life history and what it
ate along the way. They conducted their study, published today
in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, through
field-based experiments in California’s Central Valley. The
study carries implications for managing floodplains, fish and
natural resources; prioritizing habitat restoration efforts;
and understanding how landscape disturbances impact fish.
The biologists working in a fish hatchery near Shasta Dam grew
increasingly concerned last year when newly hatched salmon fry
began to act strangely — swimming around and around, in tight,
corkscrewing motions, before spiraling to their deaths at the
bottom of the tanks. … [S]cientists eventually unlocked part
of the mystery: The fish had a deficiency of thiamine, or
Guardians of the River, produced by American
Rivers and Swiftwater Films, focuses on the hard-won
efforts of leaders of the Yuroks. Frankie Joe Myers, vice
chair of the tribe; Sammy Gensaw, director of
the Ancestral Guard; Barry McCovey, fisheries
biologist with the tribe; and members of the Ancestral
Guard and Klamath Justice Coalition share why removing
four dams across southern Oregon and Northern California is
vital to restoring clean water, food
sovereignty, and justice for the Klamath River.
Californians have recently endured increasingly aggressive
wildfires, rolling power outages, and smoke-filled air for
days. Unless the state government changes course, we can
add water shortages to this list. … However, the dirty
little secret is that 50 percent of California’s water supply
is used for environmental purposes and is ultimately flushed
out into the Pacific Ocean, 40 percent goes to agriculture, and
only 10 percent goes for residential, industrial, commercial,
and governmental uses. -Written by Daniel Kolkey, a former judge and former
counsel to Governor Pete Wilson and board member of Pacific
A federal agency has ruled that the state can continue to seek
higher flows on the Tuolumne River than planned by the Modesto
and Turlock irrigation districts. The Jan. 19 ruling drew
cheers from environmental and fishing groups that have long
sought larger releases from Don Pedro Reservoir into the lower
San Francisco rightly prides itself on being an environmental
leader. Given this deep commitment to protecting the
environment, the city’s water agency — the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission — should be a leader in smart, sustainable
water policy. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. But
Mayor London Breed now has a once-in-a-decade chance to turn
the SFPUC in a new direction by appointing a progressive,
visionary new general manager who reflects the city’s values.
San Francisco’s Bay-Delta ecosystem and the Central Valley
rivers that feed it are in steep decline… -Written by John McManus, president of the Golden State
Salmon Association, and Kate Poole, the water lead for the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
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
California’s tussle with federal authorities over water
operations will get a second look under the new administration
of President Joe Biden. The 46th president plans to sign a
number of executive orders, including one that instructs agency
heads to review actions taken under President Donald Trump that
“were harmful to public health, damaging to the environment,
unsupported by the best available science, or otherwise not in
the national interest.” On the list for both the departments of
Commerce and Interior is a review of new biological opinions
adopted in 2019 governing water delivery in California.
Chinook salmon have spawned for millennia in Auburn
Ravine Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River in
Northern California northeast of Sacramento, but
biologists have been uncertain if salmon could get past the
Chaparral Cascades. … Now there is proof that salmon can
get through the cascades to spawn upstream. A local resident
noticed salmon spawning about 375 yards upstream from the
Chaparral Cascades on November 5, 2016 and preserved video
proof of that…
More than 200 farm and water organizations from 15 states are
urging President-elect Joe Biden and congressional leaders to
address aging Western water infrastructure in any economic
recovery package. Groups including state Farm Bureaus, the
Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers issued letters to
Biden and lawmakers Wednesday saying existing canals and
reservoirs were built more than 50 years ago and are in
desperate need of rehabilitation.
After years of negotiations and agreements, roadblocks,
renegotiations, and new agreements, dam removal on the Klamath
river is closer than ever to becoming a reality. With almost
all of the bureaucratic hurdles overcome, four of the six dams
on the Klamath are slated to be removed by 2024, restoring fish
access to the entire river. If carried out as planned, it will
be the largest dam removal project in the history of the United
States, opening up 400 river-miles of habitat to
salmon, trout, and eels, for the first time in decades. The
Yurok Tribe and Klamath River Renewal Corporation hope it will
also mean a return to a healthy river…
We’ve reached a critical moment to take action for endangered,
wild coho salmon and the forests and watersheds they need to
survive. But we can’t do it alone. From keeping an eye out for
pollution in the environment to using reusable tote bags, there
are many actions we can take as individuals to help create a
healthy planet for us all. We’ve put together five ways to be
salmon-friendly in 2021…
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)
put tire manufacturers on notice that California wants them to
explore alternatives to using zinc, a toxic chemical that harms
aquatic life and burdens waterways. Zinc helps make rubber
stronger, but also wears off tire tread and washes into storm
drains, streams, rivers and lakes, threatening California fish
and other aquatic organisms.
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.
In the latter part of 2020, various actions were implemented in
the Sacramento Valley to promote salmon recovery that point
positive as we begin 2021. Even during a global pandemic,
partners were working together on efforts to advance science to
inform salmon recovery decisions and tangible projects to
improve habitat for fish
There has likely been 95% or more decline in [coho salmon]
numbers since the 1960s in California due to dam construction
and habitat degradation from various land-use practices. Toxic
tire pollution is another threat added to the already long lost
of myriad threats this species face.
Holidays are a natural time of introspection on who we are,
what we do, and why. Towards a bit of our own self-reflection,
some researchers from UC Davis’ Center for Watershed Sciences
(CWS) have each contributed a photo and short description of
their work. We hope you enjoy reading about us and learning
even more about us. It is hopefully a soft bookend to a wild
For years, researchers have worked to solve the mysterious
cause of extreme coho salmon mortality in the Pacific
Northwest. A recent study by the San Francisco Estuary
Institute and the University of Washington has finally
identified the microscopic culprit as a highly toxic
contaminant associated with tire particles…The study focused
on water samples from the San Francisco Bay area and the Puget
Sound in Washington state, but scientists fear the contaminant
could affect coho salmon in the Eel and Klamath rivers as well.
After a record-setting season of catastrophic wildfires in
California, no single fire in 2020 burned more than the Creek
Fire in the Upper San Joaquin River watershed east of Fresno.
The Creek Fire, the largest single-source fire in California
history, ravaged nearly 380,000 acres from September to
November. Now, with 35% of the watershed burned, hydrologists
want to better understand what impact the Creek Fire may have
on spring runoff – essential to the San Joaquin Valley’s water
supply and to the welfare of a burgeoning salmon population.
The only hope for salmon to return to the Klamath River, which
runs though southern Oregon and northern California before
emptying into the Pacific Ocean, is to remove some of those
river-blocking dams because they have interfered with the
breeding habits of the fish, experts say.
Southern California steelhead are statistically the most
endangered native fish in America. In the early 1900s, hundreds
of thousands of them returned to the rivers between San Louis
Obispo and Mexico. Now, there are reportedly under a few
hundred adults returning annually.
A project to remove a major barrier to the recovery of
endangered coho salmon was completed Friday in West Marin. The
years-long effort led by the Olema-based Salmon Protection and
Watershed Network, or SPAWN, removed artificial obstacles on a
section of San Geronimo Creek for the first time in 120 years.
They had stymied the migration and survival of coho salmon and
threatened steelhead trout.
A free-flowing creek will replace Central California’s highest
priority fish passage barrier as the Salmon Protection and
Watershed Network (SPAWN) completes a community restoration
project along San Geronimo Creek [in Marin County], one of the
most important watersheds left for endangered coho salmon.
The fall salmon run is happening right now on the American
River, and for many in the greater Sacramento area, that
usually means a visit to the Nimbus Fish Hatchery to check out
the fish ladders and nearby spawning grounds. Although the
hatchery visitor center is closed because of the pandemic,
observing the salmon run can still happen, in a safe way, from
the hatchery’s nature trail.
After salmon spawn, or reproduce, it marks the end of their
lifecycle. For the Department of Water Resources (DWR) it marks
an important time for dissecting and studying salmon carcasses
to learn about the species’ population and assess their numbers
in the Feather River.
Scientists in the Pacific Northwest say they’ve solved a
long-running mystery behind the region’s dying salmon, a
discovery that may explain what’s harming fish elsewhere around
the globe, including California.
Federal and state officials signed nearly 400 treaties with
tribal nations in the 18th and 19th centuries….In recent
years, some courts, political leaders and regulators have
decided it’s time to start honoring those treaty
obligations….“The notion that tribal treaty rights should be
factored into government decision-making is gaining increasing
currency,” [said Riyaz Kanji, a leading Indian law attorney.]
The strength of that argument was on display again last month,
when leaders in Oregon and California announced plans to remove
four dams on the Klamath River.
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.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey 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.
This virtual experience focuses on the San Joaquin Valley, the southern part of the vast region, which is facing challenges after years of drought, dwindling water supplies, decreasing water quality and farmland conversion for urban growth. The tour gives participants an understanding of the region’s water use and issues as well as the agricultural practices, including new technologies and water-saving measures.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
A new and improved tool that tracks salmon survival in
Lagunitas Creek was installed on ranchlands west of Point Reyes
Station last month, potentially changing the way the Marin
Municipal Water District manages the watershed. Every year,
ecologists implant a rice-sized microchip in hundreds of
juvenile Coho salmon. Now, antennas anchored at the mouth of
the creek will register their passage when they swim to or from
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.
For over a century, one of the most important salmon runs in
the United States has had to contend with historic dams – and
now four of them are set to be taken down….The dams built on
the Klamath River have been identified as one cause of the
drop in salmon numbers.
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.
The recent removal of the sediment-filled York Dam in Napa
County has reconnected two miles of steelhead trout habitat
that has been blocked for over a century. … Thousands of
barriers to stream flow and fish passage similar in size and
impact to York Dam are scattered throughout California,
contributing to population declines in native fishes and other
Not only are non-native predators abundant, but predation risk
may be compounded by the prevalence of invasive vegetation such
as Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa). These non-native plants
may deal a double blow to Chinook salmon by restricting their
access to formerly open-water habitat and by providing
predators like largemouth bass an edge in a habitat they are
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
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.
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.
Raising salmon in the desert seems like an unlikely mission,
but that is exactly what Norwegian-based West Coast Salmon AS
intends to do. The company announced in early October it had
secured a first round of financing for a land-based Atlantic
salmon farm facility south of Winnemucca near the
Humboldt/Pershing County line.
The annual migration of Chinook salmon up West Coast rivers
from the ocean has enriched ecosystems, inspired cultures, and
shaped landscapes. Yet the timing of their migration is
controlled by one small section of their genome, according to
research published this week in Science. This is the first time
scientists have linked a single gene region to such an
influential difference in a vertebrate species.
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.
Down the dark corridors of the UC Davis Watershed Sciences
building are freezers of dead fish. Frozen Chinook Salmon
carcasses and their dissected eyes and muscles in neat vials
are stacked next to White Sturgeon fin clips, Striped Bass
scales, and tubes of stomach contents. This might sound like
the stuff of horror movies, but these freezers are vital to
understanding our native California fishes.
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 future of our existing dams, including 2,500 hydroelectric
facilities, is a complicated issue in the age of climate
change. Dams have altered river flows, changed aquatic habitat,
decimated fish populations, and curtailed cultural and treaty
resources for tribes. But does the low-carbon power dams
produce have a role in our energy transition?
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.
Reclamation, working with the Sacramento River Settlement
Contractors and federal and state fish and wildlife agencies,
are implementing fall water operations to benefit salmon
populations in the Sacramento River.
In a review of Feather River fall-run Chinook salmon in
September 2019, I described their status through the 2018 run
and expressed optimism for the 2019 run. My assessment proved
overly optimistic, as the 2019 run numbers came in lower than
expected. The lower-than-expected returns appear to be the
consequence of the 2017 Oroville Dam spillway failures.
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.
U.S. Rep. John Garamendi has filed an official objection to a
plan backed by Sonoma County and his House Democratic colleague
Jared Huffman to remove Scott Dam on the Eel River and drain
Lake Pillsbury, a popular recreation spot for nearly a century.
Completely dry riverbeds, record low flows, and diminished fish
populations — that’s what staff and volunteers from a local
environmental nonprofit found when they surveyed tributaries of
the Eel River earlier this month.
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…
Members of local tribes, fishermen and conservationists are
calling on Warren Buffett to undam the Klamath. People across
the country joined members of the Karuk, Yurok, Klamath and
Hoopa Valley tribes on Friday for a day of action to get the
attention of Buffett, the owner of Pacific Power and the
Klamath River dams…
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.
Virtual rallies will be held Friday at the utility’s
headquarters in Portland and in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha,
Neb., according to a Save California Salmon news release. A
rally will also be held in Seattle, home of the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, the top shareholder in Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is
PacifiCorp’s parent company.
Chinook salmon have become a welcome and familiar sight in
recent years in Putah Creek. Considered a keystone species
across the Pacific Northwest, Chinook salmon hold a special
place in our past and present as a cultural and food resource.
This includes for indigenous peoples of California, such as the
Patwin people, on whose land UC Davis is located.
Congressman John Garamendi, who represents the northern half of
Lake County, on Friday submitted a formal comment to the
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opposing removal of Scott
Dam on the Eel River at Lake Pillsbury and demanding that Lake
County have an equal seat at the table for determining the
future of Potter Valley Project and the lake.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 24.
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
A dialogue organized by Stanford that brought together
environmental organizations, hydropower companies, investors,
government agencies and universities has resulted in an
important new agreement to help address climate change… Dan
Reicher, a former U.S. assistant secretary of energy and board
member of the conservation group American Rivers, spoke with us
about brokering this new agreement…
The South Fork Eel River is considered one of the highest
priority watersheds in the state for flow enhancement projects.
Forested tributaries like Redwood Creek provide refugia habitat
for threatened juvenile coho salmon but suffer from the
cumulative impacts of legacy logging and unregulated water
The industry that operates America’s hydroelectric dams and
several environmental groups announced an unusual agreement
Tuesday to work together to get more clean energy from
hydropower while reducing the environmental harm from dams, in
a sign that the threat of climate change is spurring both sides
to rethink their decades-long battle over a large but
contentious source of renewable power. The United States
generated about 7 percent of its electricity last year from
hydropower, mainly from large dams built decades ago, such as
the Hoover Dam, which uses flowing water from the Colorado
River to power turbines.
The Bureau of Reclamation plans to temporarily close the Delta
Cross Channel gates at 4 p.m. on Oct. 13. The closure is
related to a lower Mokelumne River pulse flow to help prevent
adult fall-run Chinook salmon from being diverted off their
migratory route… The gates are scheduled to re-open at 10
a.m. on Oct. 17.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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…
While working at the United Water Conservation District,
Michael Booth used 19 years of records from a designated fish
trap on southern California’s Santa Clara River to identify
potential environmental drivers that spur some fish to make the
arduous trip to the Pacific Ocean. … He found that steelhead
migration was triggered by the lengthening daylight of spring
rather than factors like recent rains…
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…
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.
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.
Four aging dams on the Klamath River are coming down. Their
completion between 1921 and 1964 brought hydroelectric power to
Northern California. It also blocked hundreds of kilometers of
fish habitat, causing Chinook salmon to effectively disappear
from the upper river basin. But the removal of dams is no
guarantee the fish will return, so a team of wildlife
researchers hopes it can coax the fish to repopulate the river
by exploiting a new discovery about salmon genetics.
The organizers of the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native
California Speakers Series are hosting a new webinar series
aimed at taking action against environmental racism and for
water justice in California. Humboldt State University Native
American Studies and Save California Salmon are organizing the
“Mobilizing for Water Justice in California” Webinar Series on
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.
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.
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
When salmon spawn, it marks the end of their lifecycle. But it
doesn’t mark the end of DWR’s salmon research. DWR studies the
carcasses to learn about salmon populations and assess their
numbers in the Feather River.
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
In burning to the edge of Lake Sonoma, the Walbridge fire has
posed an unprecedented threat to the water supply for 600,000
North Bay residents and scorched Sonoma County streams critical
to the revival of imperiled fish. … Experts estimate half of
the spawning habitat on Russian River tributaries has been
burned, dealing a potential setback to expensive, longstanding
efforts to bolster coho salmon and steelhead trout populations.
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
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,
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.
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.
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…
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
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
A win for state water rights came earlier this month after the
Marion County Circuit Court ruled that the Bureau of
Reclamation cannot release water from Upper Klamath Lake for
flows down the Klamath River.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Marin County Superior Court judge rejected a petition filed
by a group of San Geronimo residents and golfers to halt creek
restoration work in the former San Geronimo Golf Course. The
ten residents and golfers, known as the San Geronimo Heritage
Alliance, filed the lawsuit in July alleging the creek
restoration work is illegal.
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.
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…
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.
The California Fish Passage Forum brings together public and
private groups and agencies working to remove barriers to fish
passage. We get a quick lesson in the projects and progress of
the Forum in an interview with Chair Bob Pagliuco and
Coordinator Alicia Marrs.
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.
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
Species such as salmon, trout and giant catfish are vital not
just to the rivers and lakes in which they breed or feed but to
entire ecosystems. By swimming upstream, they transport
nutrients from the oceans and provide food for many land
animals, including bears, wolves and birds of prey.
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
New state grants totaling about $8 million will enhance fish
habitat on the Tuolumne River, and better connect west Modesto
residents to the waterway. The grants will continue efforts to
restore spawning areas and floodplains for salmon, trout and
other fish between La Grange and Modesto.
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated
its support once again for the fishery releases proposed by the
Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. The action reaffirmed
FERC findings in February 2019 that dismissed pleas from
environmental and sport-fishing groups for much higher flows.
With state and federal administrations fighting in court about
delta water operations—and with a pandemic and election year
both underway—work has slowed on voluntary agreements meant to
avoid severe cuts to northern San Joaquin Valley water
supplies. At issue is the first phase of a State Water
Resources Control Board plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin
As part of a settlement reached with fishing and environmental
groups, the California State Water Resources Control Board says
it will increase transparency and conduct heightened
evaluations when deciding water quality standards and flow
limits for the state’s critical waterways. …
Environmentalists celebrated the deal as a “landmark
settlement” that stands to boost protections for fish by
improving water quality in the Sacramento River and the San
The country’s largest dam removal project was thrown into
question last week when federal regulators refused to let the
current owner fully transfer the impoundments to a nonprofit to
carry out the demolition.
While it’s fair to say that salmon and steelhead are dying the
death of a thousand cuts in the Eel River, Scott Dam is by far
the deepest and most damaging of these injuries. Dam removal
efforts from Maine to Washington State to here in California
have shown time and again that restoring access to historical
spawning grounds is key to rebounding fish populations.
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
Earlier this year, the California Almond Board released a
report regarding the acreage of almond trees that have reached
bearing age and another with totals including young trees.
These reports paint a stark picture of an unsustainable
industry that threatens the Bay-Delta ecosystem and
California’s salmon fishing jobs.
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.