News & Stories

  • Plan to help steelhead trout rebound in SLO County is finalized

    December 26, 2013

    By David Sneed, The Tribute, 

    After several years of work, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a report this month finalizing a plan to restore steelhead trout populations in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties.

    The south-central population of steelhead trout is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The range of the population extends from the Pajaro River in Monterey County to Arroyo Grande Creek.

    Biologists believe this population of steelhead once numbered more than 27,000 but is estimated to have declined to less than several thousand. Steelhead trout are considered one of the most prized sport fish species in the nation.

    The recovery plan outlines actions that can be voluntarily taken by scientific researchers, stakeholders and the general public to help the species recover. In San Luis Obispo County, the report recommends creating bypasses around barriers that prevent the steelhead from migrating upstream to spawning and rearing habitats on the San Simeon, Santa Rosa, Pismo, Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo creeks

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  • Scott River Coho run largest since 2007

    December 17, 2013

    By David Smith, Siskiyou Daily News,

    After a large influx of Coho salmon in the past few weeks, the Scott River has seen its largest return of the species since 2007.

    The latest data from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife video weirs on the Klamath’s tributaries shows a relatively strong return this year for Chinook and Coho, with the Scott’s Chinook numbers as of Dec. 10 coming in just under the seven year average weir data. Final counts for the Scott also rely on carcass and spawning area counts, which have not yet been finalized.

    On Bogus Creek, the numbers of Chinook and Coho passing the video weir have trickled to a halt, with only one Coho returning between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10.

    So far, the Bogus numbers are 3,143 Chinook and 290 Coho, which the data shows is the strongest Coho return since 2004 and the third-smallest Chinook return in that same time period.

    The end of season for the Shasta counts was called on Dec. 10, due to ice floes damaging the weir on Dec. 9. The Chinook count came in at 8,127, the third-largest return since 2001, with 151 Coho, the highest number of that species since 2007.

    The Scott and Bogus weirs are still operating, according to CDFW environmental scientist Morgan Knechtle, and once the final numbers are compiled and finalized, they will be used in forecasts for 2014.

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  • Chinook salmon return to Marin, coho shouldn't be too far behind

    December 4, 2013

    By Mark Prado, Marin Independent Journal, Dec. 4, 2013

    For the first time in five years, chinook salmon are being seen in the Lagunitas watershed — a hopeful sign that federally endangered coho salmon will have a strong run this winter.

    Chinook salmon — also known as king salmon — are not always spotted in Marin's creeks, but when they do appear they generally are accompanied by a strong run of coho.

    "What we have seen is that when resident coho populations do well, we see other species doing well," said Eric Ettlinger, aquatic ecologist for the Marin Municipal Water District.

    The chinook salmon are native to the Central Valley, but seem to have lost their way and ended up in Lagunitas Creek, Ettlinger said. It's possible that they were spawned in a hatchery and they don't know where home can be found. The chinook and coho salmon generally return to the streams in which they were born after returning from the ocean.

    "These may not have a strong homing instinct," Ettlinger said.

    Marin's chinook salmon numbers are not great — about 10 fish and eight fish nests have been spotted. Nonetheless it has been a pleasant surprise for those who manage the sensitive watershed.

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  • Scott River sees surge in Coho count

    November 29, 2013

    By David Smith, Nov. 29, 2013, Siskiyou Daily.

    A surge in Coho on the Scott River has bolstered this season's salmon run as two days pushed that river's count to one of the highest in three years.

    November 20 and 21 saw 315 and 366 Coho, respectively, pass the California Department of Fish and Wildlife video weir to bring the season's total to 722 as of Nov. 25. According to Sari Sommarstrom of the Scott River Water Trust, the pulse in Coho corresponded to a pulse in the Scott's flows after a recent rainstorm.

    The Chinook video count on the Scott was 3,048 on the 25th.

    On Bogus Creek, Nov. 20 saw 3,148 Chinook and 122 Coho. According to CDFW data, the two species' numbers are mostly consistent with recent years, excluding last year's atypical 11,193 Chinook run.

    For the Shasta, the Chinook count on Nov. 23 topped at 8,119 and 117 Coho.

    The data shows that across the three tributaries, last year's end of the run season was declared near the end of November. but other years show runs continuing well into December.

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  • New Study: Gulls Taking a Bite Out of Salmon Population

    November 25, 2013

    By Brad Kava, Santa Cruz Patch, Nov. 25, 2013

    Garbage dumps and the population of birds they attract may be the blame. A young steelhead salmon has about a 30 percent chance of being eaten by Western gulls during its transit to sea through creek mouths in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, according to a new study by California Sea Grant-funded researchers.

    Gauntlets of gulls lining narrow streams may consume anywhere from 7-83 percent of young steelhead in the Waddell, Scott and Gazos watershed mouths, according to the study found here.

    “We have thought of the ocean as this big dangerous place,” said Sean Hayes, a co-investigator on the Sea Grant project and a salmon ecologist at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “But, it may be that the last 200 or 300 meters of a river and estuary are the most dangerous. These fish are literally being scooped out right before they enter the ocean.”

    Ironically, the gulls may truly only be snacking on salmon, and feasting on trash. Tagging and tracking studies show the birds make frequent trips to the Santa Cruz landfill. This virtually endless supply of easily accessible human-waste food may be artificially increasing both gull populations and, by extension, opportunistic predation on young steelhead and salmon.

    “We see thousands of gulls at the landfill,” said Ann-Marie Osterback, the California Sea Grant graduate student trainee on the project and the lead author of the 2013 study.

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