News & Stories

  • CDFW to host public meeting on ocean salmon

    February 13, 2019

    Lake County News

    NORTH COAST, Calif. – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting.

    The meeting will feature the outlook for this year's sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries, in addition to a review of last year's salmon fisheries and spawning escapement.

    The meeting will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa.

    Anglers are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council, or PFMC, meetings in March and April.

    The 2019 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to develop annual sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing recommendations.

    The process involves collaborative negotiations with West Coast states, federal and tribal agencies, and stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation.

    Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 5-12 PFMC meeting in Vancouver, Wash.

    The PFMC will finalize the recommended season dates at its April 9 to 16 meeting in Rohnert Park.

    A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW's ocean salmon Web page, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason. 

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  • There is ONE steelhead left in Alameda Creek, California

    February 12, 2019

    Red Green and Blue By Dan Bacher

    Alameda Creek, the largest local watershed in Alameda County and the Bay Area, once hosted big runs of steelhead and Chinook steelhead. However, dams, other barriers and water diversions decimated these runs.

    Here is the latest press release on the great work by the Alameda Creek Alliance and Jeff Miller to restore these magnificent fish to the creek:

    Fremont, CA – Alameda Creek Alliance volunteers last week helped fish biologists from the East Bay Regional Park District capture and radio tag a single adult steelhead trout in lower Alameda Creek below the BART weir, an impassable concrete barrier that blocks fish spawning migration.

    On February 5, Park District biologists attached a radio transmitter to a 25” female steelhead and moved her upstream into lower Niles Canyon. This steelhead migrated into the Stonybrook Creek tributary, where she was observed last week spawning with native rainbow trout.

    The female steelhead has been nicknamed “Anna,” a reference to the anadromous, or migratory, life cycle of steelhead. “Anadromous” derives from Greek words meaning “up running.” Steelhead trout and rainbow trout are different forms of the same species. Steelhead have migrated from the fresh water streams of their birth to the ocean, whereas the smaller rainbow trout spend their entire life cycle in fresh water.

    Four adult steelhead were seen at the BART weir barrier on February 3 but only one steelhead was captured on February 5. A 29” chinook salmon was also captured, likely of hatchery origin.

    The Park District captures and radio tags steelhead to track their upstream migration. The Alameda County Water District and California Department of Fish and Wildlife helped coordinate the fish capture and tagging. Trout Unlimited, South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition and Diablo Valley Fly Fishers also provided volunteers.

    The Park District captures and radio tags steelhead to track their upstream migration. The Alameda County Water District and California Department of Fish and Wildlife helped coordinate the fish capture and tagging. Trout Unlimited, South Bay Clean Creeks Coalition and Diablo Valley Fly Fishers also provided volunteers.

    Local, state and federal agencies have been working on multiple projects to restore steelhead trout to Alameda Creek. The Alameda County Water District and Alameda County Flood Control District will begin construction this summer on a critical fish ladder that will allow steelhead to migrate past the BART weir barrier and an adjacent inflatable rubber dam used for water supply operations. It will take three years to complete construction for this complex fish passage facility. The ACWD recently completed construction of another fish ladder at a second inflatable rubber dam one mile upstream in the flood control channel.

    In 2018 the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission finished rebuilding the seismically-challenged Calaveras Dam in the upper Alameda Creek watershed. The new reservoir will be operated with cold water releases in the summer to help steelhead and trout rear downstream of the dam. The SFPUC also recently finished construction of a new fish ladder and fish screens at the associated Alameda Diversion Dam in upper Alameda Creek. This diversion dam will be operated to bypass much more of the winter and spring.

    “Anna, our anadromous trout, was in a hurry to spawn and she quickly found good habitat in a Niles Canyon tributary and a willing mate among the native rainbow trout population there,” said Jeff Miller, director of the Alameda Creek Alliance. “We’ve had a handful of adult steelhead attempt to migrate up lower Alameda Creek each of the last four winters, but only a few have gotten a helping hand to suitable spawning grounds.”

    “Construction begins this summer on a fish ladder at the BART weir, which within three years will allow salmon and steelhead to migrate upstream on their own to reach suitable spawning areas in the Alameda Creek watershed,” said Miller. “Half a century after they were eliminated, we’re on the brink of restoring a wild steelhead spawning population in the high flows in upper Alameda Creek. The enhanced stream flows will help migratory fish get further upstream to better habitat.

    Alameda Creek is becoming an urban stream success story after decades of restoration efforts. Since steelhead trout in the Bay Area were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 1997, a consortium of organizations and agencies has cooperated on restoration projects to allow migratory fish to reach spawning habitat in upper Alameda Creek, including dam removals and construction of fish ladders and fish screens.

    Seventeen fish passage projects have been completed in the watershed since 2001. Water agencies are also working on projects to improve stream flows and restore stream and riparian habitat along Alameda Creek and its tributaries. These restoration projects will make up to 20 miles of Alameda Creek and its tributaries accessible to ocean-run fish for the first time in over half a century.

    Alameda Creek is considered an ‘anchor watershed’ for steelhead, since it has regional significance for restoration of the threatened trout to the entire Bay Area. The watershed drains an area of about 680 square miles and once supported populations of native steelhead trout and salmon. Steelhead, salmon and lamprey are anadromous fish, living out their adult lives in the ocean and migrating up fresh water streams and rivers to spawn and rear their young.

    Construction of dams, water diversions, modifications to the Alameda Creek streambed, and urbanization made it impossible for steelhead to migrate upstream, eliminated access to suitable spawning areas, and reduced suitable habitat for cold-water fish.

    The Alameda Creek Alliance is a 2,000-member strong community watershed group, dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural ecosystems of the Alameda Creek watershed. The Alameda Creek Alliance has been working to restore steelhead trout to the Alameda Creek watershed since 1997. 

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  • Status of Chinook Salmon being reviewed, fishing closed on Klamath, Trinity rivers

    February 12, 2019

    Siskiyou Daily News

    The California Fish and Game Commission last week took action that could result in Upper Klamath-Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon eventually being listed as endangered and approved fishing closures on parts of the Klamath and Trinity rivers to protect the salmon until a decision can be made on their status.

    The commission accepted a petition to list the salmon as endangered, setting into motion a status review to be completed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to a CDFW press release.

    The petitioners, the Karuk Tribe and Salmon River Restoration Council, submitted information suggesting declining population trends and a low abundance, making this stock of salmon vulnerable to extinction, the release states. The commission action results in Spring Chinook Salmon being designated as a Candidate Species under the California Endangered Species Act, which provides Candidate Species the same protections as species listed as endangered and threatened under CESA.

    CDFW also requested the commission adopt emergency fishing regulations necessary to reconcile them with the CESA protections. CDFW will also be in consultation with federal regulatory bodies concerning ocean fishing regulations.

    Acceptance of the petition triggers a one-year status review by CDFW to determine if a CESA listing by the commission may be warranted, according to the release.

    “CDFW, after review of the best scientific information available, will make a recommendation to the commission on whether to list Spring Chinook Salmon as either endangered or threatened, or that listing is not warranted at this time,” the release states.

    The following inland salmon fishing closures were approved by the commission through the emergency regulations:

    Klamath River main stem from the mouth of the river to Iron Gate dam. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 (subject to approval from the Office of Administrative Law) to Aug. 14.

    Trinity River main stem from its confluence to the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 to Aug. 31.

    Trinity River main stem from upstream of the Highway 299 Bridge at Cedar Flat to Old Lewiston Bridge. Closed to salmon fishing from the anticipated effective date of Feb. 22 to Oct. 15.

    Fishing for Upper Klamath-Trinity River Fall Chinook Salmon will be allowed in these areas after the closure dates listed above, the release states. Quotas and bag and possession limits for Fall Chinook Salmon will be adopted by the commission in May of this year.

    Steelhead fishing will be allowed year-round with normal bag and possession limits, according to the CDFW.

    Along with its adoption of the emergency regulations, the commission also directed CDFW to work with stakeholders, including affected counties, fishing organizations, tribes and conservation groups, to investigate options to allow some Spring Chinook Salmon fishing in 2019.

    Under Section of 2084 of Fish and Game Code, the commission can consider hook-and-line recreational fishing on a Candidate Species, according to the release.

    CDFW will present the results of that stakeholder collaboration and potential options using Section 2084 at the commission’s next public meeting, which will be held April 17 in Santa Monica.

    The public may keep track of the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

    Additional information can be found in the “2018-2019 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations” and the “2018-2019 California Supplement Sport Fishing Regulations.”

    The full commission agenda, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.
     

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  • Marin coho see best spawning season in 12 years; record steelhead season forecast

    February 9, 2019

    Marin Independent Journal By Will Houston

    Nearly 12 years have passed since this many coho salmon swam up the Lagunitas Creek watershed to spawn.

    By the end of January, surveyors found 332 redds, or salmon egg nests, and about 664 adult coho in the watershed — the highest count since the winter of 2007-08. While this count is still well below the recovery target of 1,600 redds needed to bring the species out of its endangered classification, researchers are optimistic with the recent trend.

    “This run was 10 percent larger than their parents’ generation, 70 percent larger than their grandparents’, and 40 percent larger than the run of their great-grandparents’ (back in 2009-10),” Marin Municipal Water District ecologist Eric Ettlinger wrote in an update. “Such sustained generational growth is a very hopeful sign for the population.”

    The Lagunitas Creek watershed alone supports about 20 percent of the wild coho runs between Monterey Bay and Fort Bragg. Decades of habitat degradation, development and dams have depleted the population. Both the state and federal governments recognize the Lagunitas coho salmon as an endangered species.

    A 2017 study by the U.C. Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and the environmental organization California Trout on California’s salmon species listed the Lagunitas coho as being at critical risk of extinction — the highest risk category next to extinction — within the next 50 years without “significantly increased intervention and protection of watersheds.”

    Environmental advocates and fisheries biologists are hoping ongoing flood plain and habitat restoration projects in the watershed will help tip the balance in the coho’s favor.

    Lost data

    This year’s Lagunitas Creek spawning data isn’t a complete picture. The recent federal government shutdown resulted in irretrievable coho spawning data being lost.

    Michael Reichmuth is a National Park Service fish biologist who helps survey coho and steelhead in the Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Before their surveying was cut short in late December by the shutdown, Reichmuth and his colleagues counted 107 adult coho and 51 redds in Lagunitas Creek’s largest tributary, Olema Creek.

    Reichmuth said they’re used to seeing around a dozen to 20 adults in the river by that time. Reichmuth said they didn’t see any new coho when they surveyed after the shutdown, but he guessed that the final numbers were double of what they found in December.

    National Park Service surveyors were able to get some help from California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials on surveying Redwood Creek. The two agencies have been releasing coho that were raised in captivity into the creek in the hopes that it might help rebound the petering population. This is the last year these releases will take place. So far, Reichmuth said these efforts have been successful, but that they will continue to monitor.

    About 30 coho redds were counted in the creek and about 88 adults, though some of the adult counts may have been duplicates, he said.

    In their surveys of other Lagunitas tributaries in the San Geronimo Creek watershed, Salmon Protection and Watershed Network, or SPAWN, surveyors found more nests than usual.

    SPAWN’s watershed biologist Prestron Brown said they found 39 redds in two San Geronimo tributaries — the highest count since 2005. Another 79 redds were counted in San Geronimo creek itself — the highest count since 2006.

    “So long as we can keep development low and habitat restoration going, we’ll see these trends continue,” Brown said.

    Steelhead runs

    Steelhead are projected to have their largest run on record this year in Lagunitas Creek, with 65 redds counted so far — a record for January, according to Ettlinger. But counting the fish isn’t so easy, Ettlinger said.

    “Even though they can be up to 3 feet long, they’re cryptic, prefer to spawn in fast water, and don’t stay on their redds very long,” Ettlinger wrote. “Your best bet for catching a glimpse of one is as they jump or swim through shallow water.”

    In the Pine Gulch Creek and Redwood Creek where park biologists survey for steelhead, Reichmuth said they haven’t seen record numbers so far, but that this is the time of year when spawning ramps up.

    “Hopefully we don’t have another shutdown so we can keep going out there,” Reichmuth said. “That way we can at least get a good estimate on the steelhead numbers this year.”

    Coho counts

    Coho salmon redds and adults counted in the Lagunitas Creek watershed from the winters of 1997 through 2019. Adult salmon counts are estimated as double the redd count.

    Read the article at the source »

  • Petition to list spring Klamath chinook as endangered considered

    February 5, 2019

    Crescent City Triplicate By Jessica Cejnar

    The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday will consider a petition to list spring run chinook salmon on the Upper Klamath-Trinity River as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.

    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is recommending the Fish and Game commission accepts the petition, which was submitted by the Karuk Tribe and the Salmon River Restoration Council in July 2018, according to the commission’s staff report. If the commission determines listing may be warranted, a one-year review of the run’s status will be conducted before a final decision is made, according to the report.

    “UKTR Spring Chinook used to be abundant in the Klamath Watershed and are important to the culture, health and economy of the Karuk Tribe,” the petition’s author, Karuna Greenberg writes. “Their survival as a species in California is threatened due to the destruction of their habitat or range, construction of dams and water diversions, disease, predation, non-existent or limited regulations and other cases.”

    According to the CDFW’s report to the commission, the amount of available habitat to spring chinook salmon in the upper Klamath and Trinity watersheds has been severely restricted by dam construction. The report notes upper Klamath River dams considered for removal in 2021 would reopen historical habitat.

    According to CDFW’s report, the spring chinook population has declined in the upper Klamath-Trinity watersheds, particularly on the South Fork Trinity River and the Salmon River. According to the report, run estimates have ranged between 1,945 and 69,007, averaging 21,339, between 1980 and 2017. Most upper Klamath-Trinity River spring chinook salmon spawn in the upper Trinity River and at the Trinity River Hatchery, according to the report.

    Major threats to the salmon run include mainstem dams, water withdrawals, disease, past logging and suction dredging practices, according to the report.

    Though most letters to the Fish and Game Commission support the Karuk Tribe’s petition to list Upper Klamath-Trinity spring run chinook as threatened or endangered, the Del Norte and Siskiyou County boards of supervisors oppose the proposed listing.

    In a Dec. 11, 2018 letter to California Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar, Del Norte County Board of Supervisors Chairman Chris Howard notes the county has been at the forefront of state policies and decisions to eliminate sport fisheries “further eroding Del Norte County’s ability to provide for its businesses and residents.”

    Howard’s letter states a previous listing petition made by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2012 was deemed not warranted by the National Marine Fisheries Service. His letter states that through proper management and policy decisions at the tribal, state and federal level would address disease and other aspects of Klamath-Trinity River health.

    “We estimate that the spring run fishery, from the end of April to the end of June, generates close to $521,000 in revenue to our communities,” Howard writes. “A listing of the UKTR Spring Chinook would result in losses at local hospitality, restaurant, hotel and service sector industry, not to mention those in our community who operate as licensed full-time guides on our rivers.”

    In his letter to Sklar, Brandon A. Criss, chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, also points out several fishing guide services in his county conduct business on the Klamath River. He also notes recreational and commercial fishing is economically important for communities throughout Northern California, pointing out that the per capita median income is $40,884, well below the state average.

    Criss also states a group of stakeholders, including Siskiyou County, are part of a coalition to address water quality and habitat for endangered coho salmon, which would also benefit spring chinook.

    The California Fish and Game Commission will meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the California Natural Resources Building, 1416 Ninth Street in Sacramento. Meeting agendas, staff reports and a live stream of the proceedings will be available at www.fgc.ca.gov.

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