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.
The sound of splashing drew me to the stream. A dark finned
back cut the surface. Salmon? … The scene I’m [Peter
Moyle] recalling from December was not the Sacramento
River or some other salmon highway, but a lowly back alley long
associated with carp and suckers: Putah Creek, my hometown
stream west of Sacramento.
The Pacific Fisheries Management Council released estimates for
the number of chinook salmon that returned from the Pacific
Ocean in the fall to spawn in rivers where they were born or
released from hatcheries.
In the Consolidated Salmonid Cases, the Eastern District Court
of California reviewed a Biological Opinion (“BiOp”) issued in
2009 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) that
placed restrictions on the Projects’ [Central Valley Project
and State Water Project] operations to protect endangered
A multi-agency partnership, involving state and local agencies,
this week finished inspections of 14 private properties with
active marijuana grow operations along Sproul Creek within the
Eel River watershed.
Looking back on 2014, it’s hard not to feel despair for
California salmon. … There was, however, a startling
exception to the run of bad salmon news. On the Shasta River, a
lifeline for Siskiyou County cattle ranchers, more than 18,000
fall-run Chinook salmon returned from the ocean. That’s more
than double the return from the previous fall.
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and Washington State
University have discovered that endangered Chinook salmon can
be detected accurately from DNA they release into the
environment. The results are part of a special issue of the
journal Biological Conservation on use of environmental DNA to
inform conservation and management of aquatic species.
The lake of [Jay] Hall’s memory is dead, its salmon all but
vanished in the past decade – a collapse so swift that
fisheries biologists have likened it to driving off a cliff.
For a brief few decades, those biologists had turned this Great
Lake into a Pacific chinook factory, taking a wildly popular
sport fish from faraway ocean waters and setting it loose to
gorge upon the swarms of invasive alewives that had decimated
native fish species.
The bonanza of rain over the last week has boosted Marin’s
totals to above average, filled reservoirs and has allowed
endangered coho salmon to make their way back to local streams
sooner than normal. … And the rain is far from over with more
predicted for the weekend and early next week.
Crews are out working in the Sacramento River in Redding this
week repairing a side channel they hope will soon be filled
with spawning salmon. But the workers aren’t with one of the
state or federal agencies charged with managing fish and
wildlife. Instead, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District out of
Willows is spending about $250,000 to improve salmon habitat in
The cherished coho salmon that historically wriggled their way
past beachgoers up Redwood Creek into Muir Woods vanished this
year and are now on the verge of extinction, prompting a
last-ditch attempt by fisheries biologists to save the
genetically unique species.
On a recent day after a rainstorm, several dozen fall-run
Chinook salmon trying to migrate upstream in Auburn Ravine
found their progress frustrated. Efforts to complete their long
spawning run from the Pacific Ocean were halted by a small dam
on the outskirts of Lincoln.
The peace and quiet of the moment is suddenly broken by a
splash in the middle of the river. It’s the sound of fall run
Chinook salmon returning to the San Joaquin, bringing with them
the foundation for new life and a cause for celebration.
Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for
salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from
one of Seattle’s busiest highways. … The research being
conducted by scientists with NOAA, Washington State University
and U.S. Fish and Wildlife offers a promising solution to
stormwater pollution, a major problem for Puget Sound and other
streams and lakes in the nation.
A miraculous thing happens each fall in the Sacramento Valley,
and it’s not the end of 100-degree weather: Salmon return to
the area’s rivers and creeks. One hundred miles from the
Pacific Ocean, the valley hosts one of the largest annual
salmon spawning runs in America.
For decades, California’s management and restoration of salmon
and trout populations have focused on principles rooted in
coastal redwood streams, mostly fed by rainfall runoff. These
concepts portray ideal salmonid habitat as deep pools, shallow
riffles and “large woody debris,” such as fallen trees and
limbs. Recent studies on spring-fed streams challenges this
The public will have a chance next week to witness the annual
spectacle of the American River salmon run. About 10:40 a.m. on
Nov. 3, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will
open the fish ladder at Nimbus Hatchery on American River.
The Water Education Foundation’s popular Northern California
Tour features a diverse group of experts talking about
groundwater, flood management, the drought, water supplies,
agricultural challenges, and the latest on salmon restoration
efforts. The tour also includes a houseboat cruise on Lake
Shasta. … The tour travels the length of the Sacramento
Valley with visits to Oroville and Shasta dams.
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a federal water agency did
not violate the law when it made special reservoir releases
last year to help salmon in Northern California’s Klamath River
survive the drought, rather than save it for farms.
The state Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed California
regulators to order farmers along the Russian River to reduce
cold-weather water sprays that have helped preserve their crops
while killing thousands of endangered salmon.
Construction crews that have spent more than two years
reconfiguring a mile-long stretch of Dry Creek outside
Healdsburg are about to mark completion of the critical first
leg of what, by 2020, is to be a six-mile project designed to
create new habitat for threatened and endangered fish.
State and federal wildlife agencies Tuesday unveiled ambitious
plans to restore endangered salmon and steelhead fish in
California’s Central Valley, including returning them to some
habitats where they were shut out decades ago by dams and other
20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A
Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at
community forums and speaking engagements to help the public
understand the complex issues related to complex water management
disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances
For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and
California border has faced complex water management disputes. As
relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary
narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range
from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp,
farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists
– all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water.
After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon
settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise
of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the
This 30-minute documentary-style DVD on the history and current
state of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program includes an
overview of the geography and history of the river, historical
and current water delivery and uses, the genesis and timeline of
the 1988 lawsuit, how the settlement was reached and what was
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, features
a map of the San Joaquin River. The map text focuses on the San
Joaquin River Restoration Program, which aims to restore flows
and populations of Chinook salmon to the river below Friant Dam
to its confluence with the Merced River. The text discusses the
history of the program, its goals and ongoing challenges with
This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays
the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas
and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including
the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text
explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson
rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery
restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many
of these issues.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to
Flood Management explains the physical flood control system,
including levees; discusses previous flood events (including the
1997 flooding); explores issues of floodplain management and
development; provides an overview of flood forecasting; and
outlines ongoing flood control projects.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an
excellent overview of the history of water development and use in
California. It includes sections on flood management; the state,
federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water
rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for
stretching the water supply such as water marketing and
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
explores the history and development of the federal Central
Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery
system. In addition to the project’s history, the guide describes
the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP
brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing
uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta,
its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex issues
with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural
drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.
The Red Bluff Diversion Dam, its gates raised since 2011 to allow
fish passage, spans the Sacramento River two miles
southeast of Red Bluff on the Sacramento River in Tehama County.
It is owned by the Bureau of Reclamation and operated and
maintained by the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority.
Battle Creek, a tributary of the
Sacramento River in Shasta and Tehama counties, is considered one
of the most important anadromous fish spawning streams in the
At present, barriers make it difficult for anadromous fish,
including chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead trout, to
migrate. Battle Creek has several hydroelectric dams, diversions
and a complex canal system between its north and south forks that
This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the
Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at
improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying
California’s long-term water supply reliability.
This printed issue of Western Water features a
roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources
consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development
with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor
to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial
page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of
research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of
This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues
associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the
water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of
whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they
might be provided.
This printed issue of Western Water examines science –
the answers it can provide to help guide management decisions in
the Delta and the inherent uncertainty it holds that can make
moving forward such a tenuous task.
This printed issue of Western Water examines the Russian and
Santa Ana rivers – areas with ongoing issues not dissimilar to
the rest of the state – managing supplies within a lingering
drought, improving water quality and revitalizing and restoring
the vestiges of the native past.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the native salmon and
trout dilemma – the extent of the crisis, its potential impact on
water deliveries and the lengths to which combined efforts can
help restore threatened and endangered species.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the Delta through the
many ongoing activities focusing on it, most notably the Delta
Vision process. Many hours of testimony, research, legal
proceedings, public hearings and discussion have occurred and
will continue as the state seeks the ultimate solution to the
problems tied to the Delta.
This issue of Western Water explores the implications for the San
Joaquin River following the decision in the Natural Resources
Defense Council lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and
Friant Water Users Authority that Friant Dam is required to
comply with a state law that requires enough water be released to
sustain downstream fish populations.
Fresh from the ocean, adult salmon struggle to swim hundreds of
miles upstream to spawn — and then die — in the same stream in
which they were born. For the salmon, the river-to-ocean,
ocean-to-river life cycle is nothing more than instinct. For
humans, it invites wonder. The cycle has prevailed for centuries,
yet as salmon populations have declined, the cycle has become a
source of conflict. Water users have seen their supplies reduced.
Fishermen have had their catch curtailed. Environmentalists have
pushed for more instream flows for fish.