News & Stories

  • Solving Dry Creek's salmon problem

    April 23, 2014

    By Mary Callahan, Staff Writer at The Press Democrat

    They're less slimy, and certainly less smelly, than a fish carcass would be. But the dry, brown pellets that biologists distributed Tuesday in a backwater channel of Dry Creek may prove to be the vitamin that once-prolific North Coast salmon streams need.

    The goal is to simulate the nutritional boost that used to come from the decaying remains of adult fish, a critical natural supplement for coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead trout and other wildlife.

    The approach has shown promise in the Columbia River watershed over the past few years. It produced benefits last year in several tributaries of Sonoma County's Austin Creek.

    “This could be a piece in the missing puzzle of recovery,” said Bob Coey, a biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

    The agency was among several — including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Sonoma County Water Agency and the Russian River Wild Steelhead Society — that participated Tuesday in seeding a restored area of Dry Creek just south of the Warm Springs Dam with about 125 pounds of the salmon-meal pellets.

    About two dozen Geyserville Middle School students also took part in honor of Earth Day, lobbing the pellets into a man-made channel designed to slow the current and enhance the survival of juvenile salmon.

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  • Salmon released in California river restoration

    April 17, 2014

    Associated Press

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Tens of thousands of spring-run Chinook salmon are being released into the San Joaquin River, marking a major milestone in the federal plan to restore native fish populations to the state's second-longest river.

    The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released 54,000 hatchery-produced salmon into the river from a site near Fresno on Thursday. Though environmentalists are celebrating the release, federal water managers say the state's drought means not all of the fish will return to spawn.

    The San Joaquin River carried the continent's southernmost salmon run until the Friant Dam was built above Fresno to capture its water for crops.

    The restoration effort is the result of a 2006 legal settlement that ended a decades-long legal tussle between farmers, environmentalists and the federal government.

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  • Allen Bushnell, Fish Rap: Salmon showing up in bunches with pressure off

    April 17, 2014

    Santa Cruz Sentinel

    It is almost official now. We have final information regarding our salmon season from the Pacific Fisheries Management Council.

    In meetings with West Coast State Fisheries Departments, the PFMC crunched all the numbers and released its announcement Monday. A final approval should come from the National Marine Fisheries Service by May 1. In the meantime, it looks as though seasonal regulations for our area below Pigeon Point will be as anticipated. While details were somewhat skimpy in the announcement, it clearly states salmon season for our area will run from April 5 to "at least" Oct. 5 in our area.

    Currently, fishing for salmon in the Monterey Bay ranges from good to very good, depending on the day. Kahuna Sportfishing out of Moss Landing, skippered by Donnie Davi, has been fishing the canyon edges almost exclusively since the opener.

    "We got limits on the opener then the bite dropped off. It's coming back up now," reported Kahuna owner Carol Jones. "I think a new batch of fish is coming in the bay right now. We're averaging a fish per rod to just about a limit per rod again."

    Also concentrating on the big canyon in the middle of the bay, boats from Chris' Fishing Trips reported similar results: big scores for the opener, a bit of a lull as fish scattered due to fishing pressure and a resurgence in numbers within the past few days.

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  • Saving Salmon from Drought Ravaged Waters

    April 3, 2014

    Millionaire Corner By Ken McDill

    California farmers get a lot of attention because of the damage being caused by the long-standing drought the state is suffering, but there are people doing what they can to save another key California industry.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are overseeing a transfer of millions of juvenile Chinook salmon from live hatcheries to waterways where they can get to the ocean and avoid the drought-ravaged rivers they would usually travel on. Starting in late March and running through June, approximately 30 million fish will be transported by tanker truck to the town of Rio Vista in California’s Central Valley, where they will be dropped into the Sacramento River and urged to head out to the ocean to begin their next natural life cycle.

    The tanker trucks are climate controlled and the water inside is the temperature of the water in the river. The experiment began on March 25 and will continue for more than two months. An estimated 30 million salmon will be transported, according to state and federal officials.

    The fish would usually make the 270-mile voyage from their home at the area hatcheries to the ocean, but too many of the tributaries required for the trip are dried due to continued drought conditions.

    Topics: drought

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  • Broken Pumps Lead to 175 Endangered Steelhead Deaths

    March 27, 2014

    Santa Barbara Independent By Nick Welsh

    In the past year, 175 steelhead trout — a federally endangered species — died in Hilton Creek, a tributary of the Santa Ynez River, when pumps operated by the federal Bureau of Reclamation that feed water into the creek as part of a steelhead restoration effort failed to function properly and left the fish stranded in the mud. Another 65 steelhead were rescued, according to Randy Ward of the Cachuma Operations and Maintenance Board at this week’s board meeting.

    On March 1, the pumps failed at 3 a.m., but Bureau employees were reportedly prohibited from stepping foot on the barge where the pumps are located until daylight. Ward said his employees scrambled to fill the breach, noting that the early March rains saved hundred of fish from otherwise certain death.

    Ward said there were seven pump malfunctions in the past year. In that time, Ward said the Bureau was required to have a back-up pump, but failed to do so. Likewise, he said the Bureau has failed to make necessary repairs to the existing pump.

    Hilton Creek has long been one of the showcase channels in which steelhead restoration efforts have taken place. Over the years, water agency managers have grumbled about having to release water for the fish, particularly when it’s been in short supply for South Coast consumers. “At this point, we’re squeezing the rag to get a few drops out,” Ward said.

    Efforts to contact the Bureau of Reclamation proved unsuccessful by deadline. The National Marine Fisheries Service, which enforces the Endangered Species Act as it applies to steelhead, has been investigating the matter.

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