News & Stories

  • Eel River Recovery Project releases 2013-2014 report

    May 5, 2014

     Eureka Times Standard

    The Eel River Recovery Project is releasing the final 2013-2014 Fall Chinook Salmon Monitoring Report, which estimates that 14,900 to 25,000 Chinook salmon spawned throughout the watershed last fall and winter. The estimate is based on lower Eel River dive counts and organized observations of migration and spawning throughout the watershed that employ photo and video documentation.

    The public is invited to a presentation of results by fisheries biologist Patrick Higgins at the Monday Club, 621 11th St. in Fortuna, on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission, and light refreshments will be provided.

    Dozens of volunteer divers turned out for ERRP lower Eel River surveys on Oct. 12 and 26, and Nov. 9, 2013. The counts built from 1,854 Chinook salmon on the first dive to 4,224 fish later in the month, and culminated in a record high of 5,954 on the final full organized dive. Rains from Nov. 19-21 allowed fish passage upstream, and Chinook began spawning in all the lower main river reaches in the basin.

    Chinook salmon moved in small groups with fish stopping to spawn where they found patches of suitable gravel. Due to low rainfall, only a few fish were able to enter the Middle Fork and very few Chinook spawned further upstream on the South Fork than Leggett. No spawning was documented above Goat Rock falls on the Van Duzen.

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  • Historic Agreement Reforms Trinity River Fish Hatchery

    April 28, 2014

    EUREKA, Ca—(ENEWSPF)—April 28, 2014. Today a federal court approved the settlement agreement in a lawsuit challenging operations at the Trinity River Fish Hatchery. The agreement between EPIC, state agencies and Tribes allows the hatchery to continue to operate, but with needed reforms to restore imperiled wild coho salmon.

    The suit alleged that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) operated the hatchery illegally because it lacked an approved plan from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The suit also alleged that the millions of hatchery fish released into the Trinity harm threatened wild salmon runs.

    "This settlement shows the commitment of a broad array of stakeholders in the Trinity basin to insure that hatchery operations support recovery of wild salmon," said Gary Graham Hughes, executive director at EPIC. "There is still a long road to travel," said Hughes, "yet this agreement is an historic moment in the process of bringing back our wild salmon."

    Represented by the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) in Eugene, Oregon, EPIC filed suit last year to curb the number of hatchery fish released into the Trinity, alleging that they harm naturally producing coho salmon, listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as threatened with extinction. On the eve of a motion to the court, the parties – EPIC, CDFW, the Bureau, and the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes – reached agreement that the hatchery could continue to operate, but in 2015 would release fewer hatchery-bred coho salmon and steelhead trout, and release the trout later in the season, so they do not prey on young coho. The agreement also requires the Bureau to submit to NMFS a new plan for hatchery operations by May 31, 2014.

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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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