News & Stories

  • Why do Pacific Salmon Die After Spawning

    November 21, 2013

    By Alessandra Bergamin (Steve Lindley), San Francisco Bay Nature, November 21, 2013

    The upriver salmon run is one of nature’s great migrations. Each year mature salmon make the long journey back to their natal river to reproduce, just once. For the five species of Pacific salmon (Chinook, chum, coho, pink, and sockeye), this arduous journey is a race against the clock that ends in a fleeting romance and ultimately death.

    The answer to why they die, it turns out, hinges on a problem every animal on Earth has had to solve.

    “Every kind of organism has evolved to solve the problem of balancing how much energy to put into surviving to first reproduction and how much energy to put into surviving to reproduce repeatedly,” said Steve Lindley, the director of NOAA’s Fisheries Ecology Division.

    “Salmon are one of the extreme cases where they put everything into reproducing just once, and then getting old and dying almost immediately thereafter (a common strategy among insects but much less so for vertebrates).”

    The reason for this, Lindley suggested, has to do with the difficult upriver migration salmon make back to their own spawning location. Flipping their bodies in the air and hurling themselves against the downward flowing water is no easy feat and one that is energetically exhausting. Because of this, salmon must fully develop in the ocean and build up fat reserves. Once they enter the river there is little food to eat and they stop investing in the maintenance of their bodies.

    “The proximate reasons have to do with DNA switches,” Lindley said. “Essentially many of the activities that operate in immature salmon to allow them to maintain their health, grow and mature are turned off after maturation, and without maintenance they pretty rapidly ‘fall apart’.”

    An alternative for these salmon species would be to spend more time in the ocean, accumulating food and energy so they are then able to migrate back after spawning. But this increases their risk of dying before getting the chance to spawn and for Pacific salmon, this is is a risk too great.
     

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  • Klamath salmon: Siskiyou numbers update

    November 15, 2013

    By David Smith,  Siskiyou Daily, November 15, 2013

    The latest salmon run counts from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife video weirs are available, and preliminary numbers from the year's creel count suggest a much better year for fishermen than 2012.

    According to weir data, the latest count of Chinook salmon on the Shasta River on Nov. 3 was 7,942, with the late-running Coho at 20 so far this year. The data show that the bulk of Coho returns in previous years occurred in late November.

    For Bogus Creek, the latest numbers date back to Oct. 25, with 2,628 Chinook and one Coho passing the weir. Like the Shasta and Scott rivers, previous annual data show Coho returns ramping up later than Chinook.

    In the Scott River, Nov. 7 data puts Chinook at 2,587 for the year, with four Coho. With the Scott's video weir at river mile 18, the end-of-season run numbers are augmented by physical counts of the fish that spawn closer to the mouth.

    The angler harvest report for Chinook salmon, according to this year's preliminary data, showing 13,400 adult Chinook harvested over the course of 22,698 reported fishing trips that encompassed 103,752 fishing hours. The total reported harvest last year was 5,792.

    For steelhead, the numbers show 229 harvested and 1,844 released thus far.
     

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  • Board of Supervisors drops objection to Nature Conservancy's water use

    November 14, 2013

    By Kevin Dickinson, Siskiyou Daily News, November 14, 2013

    The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted to withdraw its protests regarding eight petitions filed by The Nature Conservancy to dedicate its water rights to in-stream flow. Streams affected include Little Springs Creek, Big Springs Creek and the Shasta River. Acting as the Siskiyou County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, the board's withdrawal came with the condition that the draft water rights order and compliance plan remain in its current form.

    The board voted four to one in approval. Supervisor Ed Valenzuela, District 2, provided the only no vote. He said his vote was not in opposition of TNC's plans, saying the board's added stipulation wasn't necessary. "TNC is doing a positive thing," Valenzuela said. "I'm comfortable with allowing this to move forward. I still think the positives are a benefit for everyone concerned."

    The adjudicated water rights for Shasta Big Spring Ranch are historically used for agriculture; however, a 1707 permit would allow TNC to leave the water in streams to benefit habitat, fish and wildlife. "We are trying to be granted the right to use that portion of irrigation water for the fish," Amy Hoss, TNC's Shasta River Project manager, told the supervisors at Tuesday's meeting.

    The supervisors expressed some concerns over the reallocation – chief among them an easement purchased by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that grants it the ability to determine whether the ranch's water rights would be used for fish or agriculture as of Sept. 15, 2015. "We are working closely with (DFW) to talk about the shared usages of ranching and salmon restoration and demonstrating that we can do both there," Hoss said. "I would hesitate to say we would be all right with that not being a ranch anymore."

    Tim Beck, Lower Shasta and Little Shasta watermaster, clarified that the water rights in question only run through the summer. "I wish they would have trusted (TNC) with the water rights," Supervisor Brandon Criss, District 1, said.

    "The controversial part of this is the DFW having control of the water, and we know they don't pay their property taxes if they took this property in the future," Supervisor Michael Kobseff, District 3, said. "I don't know what harm may come to water users if (DFW) had full control."

    During public comment, John Menke of Quartz Valley called TNC a broker for other agencies to buy land. While he did applaud TNC for its motives, he added, "You can't trust this Fish and Wildlife. They have none of our interests at heart."

    Richard Marshall, president of the Siskiyou County Water Users Association, requested the supervisors let the matter go to superior court to determine the beneficial use.

    After the meeting, Hoss told the Daily News, "I'm really encouraged by the process. I feel it's been a useful exercise to hear everyone's concerns.

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  • Major wetland restoration completed

    November 11, 2013

    The Times-Standard, November 11, 2013

    Late in the night of Sept. 26, Humboldt Bay waters flowed freely into a tidal estuary and marsh at McDaniel Slough for the first time in decades. Under the bright glare of construction lights, a large Nehalem Marine Manufacturing excavator scooped the last bite out of an earthen levee and pulled up the failing tide gates. The event, timed to coincide with low tide, is a milestone in an effort to recreate connected, diverse wetland habitats stretching from upland forests, through streams, brackish tidal marshes, to the salt water of Humboldt Bay.

    The McDaniel Slough Wetland Restoration and Enhancement Project is located on public land owned by the City of Arcata and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. It helps establish connected fisheries habitats that different species need to complete their reproductive and life cycles in both the freshwater of Janes Creek and the salt water of Humboldt Bay and the ocean.

    The newly connected, self-sustaining tidal marsh is expected to develop quickly into a rich, vegetated marsh with a complex channel network. The project removed tide gates, deepened historic slough channels and removed failing or obsolete levees to restore 222 acres of former tidelands and 24.5 acres of freshwater wetlands.
     

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  • Restoration work receives a boost

    November 11, 2013

    By Adam Spencer, The Triplicate, November 11, 2013

    Considering the vast, mighty nature of the Klamath River — the second-largest in California — small tributaries in Del Norte County like Hunter and Terwer creeks might seem insignificant.

    But findings from recent years show that coho salmon and steelhead born throughout the Klamath Basin, even hundreds of miles upriver near Yreka, use the small tributaries in the Lower Klamath River as a refuge to grow before migrating out to the ocean.

    Because of the creeks’ importance to steelhead and coho salmon, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, a federal agency recently announced another grant-funded project with the Yurok Tribe to restore fish habitat.

    The tribe will receive $128,000 from NOAA Fisheries to construct 48 complex wood jams, which naturally provided fish habitat before humans stripped streams of wood, across more than a mile of Hunter Creek, and plant up to 300 trees on creekside acreage.
     

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