News & Stories

  • Scant December rainfall makes Marin harder to reach for endangered coho

    January 6, 2014

    By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal,

    Marin's federally endangered coho salmon should be hitting the peak of their annual run right about now, but they are few and far between because of the lack of rain.

    In fact, aside from a population crash of the species in 2008-09, the number of coho and their egg nests seen to date are the fewest in 17 years, since their numbers were first recorded by the Marin Municipal Water District.

    The number is especially disappointing to biologists who were expecting a robust run.

    "The lack of rain becomes a factor that complicates the story," said Greg Andrew, fishery program manager for the water district.

    December rains typically help facilitate the return of the coho from the sea to their spawning grounds. The coho complete a three-year lifecycle in which they are born in streams, travel to open sea, then return to their native creeks to spawn and die.

    The species was said to be in an "extinction vortex" after numbers dipped to all-time lows four years ago, but numbers have been on the rise since then and it was believed — with some good rain — this could be a strong year for the fish.

    But December's rainfall has been minuscule: 1.17 inches. The average is 9.61 inches, as measured at Lake Lagunitas by the water district.

    "The fish are still trickling into the creeks and there is active spawning, but in low numbers overall," Andrew said. "Hopefully we will get some good rains in the first part of the year."

    Read the article at the source »

  • Riverkeeper and Karuk tribe settle suit against Montague Water Conservation

    January 3, 2014

     By David Smith, SiskiyouDaily,as parties signed an agreement that ends a lawsuit alleging harm to Coho salmon in the Shasta River system.

    Klamath Riverkeeper initiated the suit in 2012, alleging that actions under the Montague Water Conservation District’s jurisdiction – including operation of Dwinnell Dam and Lake Shastina – result in the illegal “take” of Southern Oregon/Northern California Coast Coho salmon, a species unit listed under the Endangered Species Act.

    The settlement agreement lays out the required allocations of water coming from Lake Shastina into the Shasta River system.

    The standard is prescribed as 2,250 or 3,000 acre-feet per year, dependent on whether the the water storage volume in Lake Shastina is less than or greater than 18,000 acre-feet.

    The agreement also guarantees that each year the MWCD will receive at least 20,500 dedicated acre-feet for irrigation, domestic and municipal purposes.

    In addition to minimum water deliveries for environmental and agricultural purposes, the agreement requires MWCD to obtain Clean Water Act permits and California Environmental Quality Act review, and provides a number of requisite changes to the Shasta River system to address environmental quality standards. Included in the list is a fish screen at the Parks Creek diversion, the installation of a lining on the MWCD’s main canal, a maintenance plan for the proposed changes and a water management and operations plan for the operation of MWCD's facilities.

    The agreement calls for the reimbursement of attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the litigation, which requires MWCD to pay $550,000 to Klamath Riverkeeper and the Karuk Tribe over the course of six years, beginning with an initial payment of $150,000 within 10 days of the signing of the agreement.

    In exchange for the agreement, the plaintiffs – the Karuk Tribe and Riverkeeper – agree to not file court claims requiring that MWCD: build fish ladders at Dwinnell Dam, pay for fish passage measures beyond Lake Shastina or remove Dwinnell Dam. According to the agreement, the court claim requirement will be in effect for 30 years.

    Read the article at the source »

  • Fishing the North Coast: Trinity best option for steelhead; Most coastal rivers closed by low flows

    January 2, 2014

    Kenny Priest, The Times-Standard,nk goodness for the Klamath/Trinity River systems.

    Without these two rivers, it'd be pretty slim pickings for anglers looking to latch onto to a steelhead this winter. Though both rivers are running at lower than normal levels, at least they're open to fishing.

    The lack of rain has closed all the other rivers that are subjected to low flow restrictions, including the Eel, Van Duzen, Mad, Redwood Creek, and Smith. With dry conditions forecasted for the next few weeks, it looks as though the Klamath and Trinity will not only be the best options -- they may well be your only options.

    2014 Fishing license

    If you plan on fishing this weekend, don't forget to purchase your 2014 license, which is required for residents 16 years of age or older to take fish, mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates, amphibians or reptile in inland or ocean waters. The cost of a new resident sport fishing license is $46.44.

    A North Coast salmon report card, which will run you $6.22, is required for all anglers taking salmon in the Smith River System or Klamath-Trinity River System, including persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, and persons who are fishing on free fishing days.

    If you plan to fish for steelhead, you'll need to purchase a steelhead report card.

    This is required for persons who are not required to have a sport fishing license, such as persons who are under 16 years of age, and persons who are fishing on free fishing days.

    The cost is $7.05. Fishing licenses and reports cards are now available to purchase online. For more information, visit

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  • Thousands of fall Chinook spawn in the Eel River

    December 31, 2013

    Special to The Willits News,

    Divers jumped into lower Eel River pools again in fall 2013 to document the size of the fall Chinook salmon run as part of the Eel River Recovery Project's (ERRP) annual monitoring program, which is co-sponsored by the Humboldt Redwood Company and the Wiyot Tribe. More than 70 divers participated in six organized dives and dozens of other volunteers are now tracking the salmon as they migrate and spawn throughout the watershed. The peak dive count was almost 6,000 Chinook salmon on November 9, but low flow conditions allowed a December 5 dive that indicates a new wave of late-run fish is entering the lower Eel River despite sparse rains.

    Read the article at the source »

  • The ESA, fish, and me

    December 26, 2013

    California Water Blog, by Peter Moyle, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences,

    The Endangered Species Act turns 40 this week, and I have been closely involved with the law for as many years as a fish biologist at UC Davis.

    I arrived on campus in 1972 with the goal of developing a research program on the ecology of California’s highly endemic, but poorly known fish fauna. For better or worse, I found myself involved in endangered species issues from the start. The law has been extraordinarily valuable in promoting studies of endemic species and in keeping them from going extinct.

    One of my first studies was on the Modoc sucker, a small fish considered endangered and known then to reside only in one small watershed in the Pit River drainage of northeastern California.

    Much of the species’ presumed habitat was on private land owned by suspicious ranchers. Hiring Alan Marciochi as my research assistant turned out to be a brilliant move. Alan comes from a farming family. He chose to live in the small Modoc County community of Adin for the study. And he played the banjo.

    Read the article at the source »