The Sagebrush Chapter of Trout Unlimited is effective in preserving and restoring prime fishing habitat due to a generous grant from the Richard Kroening family. The Northern Nevada-based chapter just issued the biggest round of funding to date from the Conservation Grant Program, a program that hasn't gotten much attention but is thought to be among the most lucrative of its kind for local Trout Unlimited chapters. Since 2009 the fund has grown from less than $540,000 to more than $850,000 while distributing more than $190,000 in grants. The grant program dates back to a 2006 grant from the family of Richard Kroening, a lifelong Trout Unlimited member. It wasn't until 2010 that the chapter issued the first round of grants. Since then, however, the program has grown from giving out less than $25,000 in the first year to nearly $45,000 in the current round awarded in January. The largest award this year was a $15,000 contribution to restoration project on the Little Truckee River. That's where a coalition led by the Truckee-Tahoe Trout Unlimited Chapter is working to improve fish habitat between Boca and Stampede reservoirs. Read More about the funding and projects.
A State Senate bill proposing to designate the Mokelumne River as wild and scenic generated intense controversy last year before it died in the Assembly. Mother Lode water agency representatives worry it could deny them future access to water from the river. Conservationists say the designation would give the river some protection and that local agencies would still be able to take water. Both sides expect another wild and scenic bill this year. Cast your vote to help the decision makers. Enter the OnLine Poll at the calaveras Enterprise.
Although there was a common understanding among the speakers at the January “Hatchery vs. Wild Salmonid Symposium” that wild fish perform better than hatchery fish, no one in the initial session said that there should be no hatcheries at all. The symposium, in Portland, was sponsored by the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. About 275 people attended. Speakers noted that salmon and steelhead hatcheries in the Northwest can replace fish runs lost to dams and the reduction of habitat, they can bring back imperiled runs of fish as the Snake River sockeye captive broodstock program is doing today; and supplementation programs can build new runs of natural fish. Not one speaker on the first day of this conference suggested that hatcheries don’t have a place. In fact, many of the speakers talked about how they are trying to make modern hatcheries work. Read More.
California hatcheries have been addressing these issues previously. A scientific group prepared a California Hatchery Review Report for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in 2012. This report provided recommendations for action by each of the specific hatcheries. Read the Report. Some of these actions are underway at the Nimbus hatchery as evidenced by current work to replace Eel River steel head stock with Central Valley stock.
Fish planting from hatcheries is a more-than-100-year-old solution to supplement stocks that have declined due to a range of issues and impacts. While many stream fish populations depend heavily on these practices, this reliance can come at a cost. In California today, 10 state and federally operated anadromous fish hatcheries produce upwards of 50,000,000 salmon and steelhead every year. Both fry and smolts are released into waterways across the state, from the Klamath River to the Merced River, and even into San Francisco and Monterey Bays. The current hatchery system was constructed primarily to mitigate the loss of fish spawning habitat above dams. Dam construction in California began in the late 19th century, subsequently preventing Chinook salmon from accessing over 80 percent of their historical spawning and holding habitat (Yoshiyama et al. 1996). Coupled with habitat loss, the introduction of invasive species as well as overfishing and pollution have also contributed to the decline of Chinook salmon. Read More.
During the non-growing season, rice fields in the Yolo Bypass have been a part of an experiment designed to help salmon thrive.
The idea is to flood the fields using — well, borrowing — drain water from the Colusa Basin as it flows into the valley and out to the Sacramento River while the fields are fallow.
The study is the focus of the Nigiri Project at Knaggs Ranch, in the northern reaches of the Yolo Bypass between Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River. The Bypass serves as an incubator for young salmon while they feed and bulk up before ultimately being flushed down the Delta.
Wild salmon lovers got an early Christmas present this week. Alaska’s new governor on Monday cut proposed funding for a controversial hydroelectric project on one of the state’s most productive salmon rivers.
The Susitna River is Alaska’s 4th largest king salmon fishery. The threats posed by a proposal to build America’s second tallest dam at the mid-point of the river, putting the river, the fishery, and an economy of over 5,000 jobs valued at over $200 million annually in jeopardy. Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program has worked with partners over the past 2 and a half years to raise awareness about the ecologic and economic costs of the proposed Susitna dam and to argue for nixing the project. Read More.
The proposed California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act protects forever 77 miles of waterways as Wild and Scenic. These rivers and streams give life for plants and wildlife in the fragile desert ecosystem. For eons, these waters have helped sustain humans, plants, and animals, and as climate change effects increase, the rivers and streams become essential.
It’s not often that you’ll find kudos for Dianne Feinstein on this page, but California’s U.S. Senator is worthy of high praise for introducing legislation Monday that would increase protection for about 1.6 million acres of Southern California desert.
The California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015, co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, also would establish two new national monuments and expand Joshua Tree and Death Valley National Parks and the Mojave National Preserve. Read More.
Source: editorial, Victorville Daily Press, February 11, 2015
The Pebble Mine in Alaska is being contained with the aid of the EPA. Did you know that a similar larger threat is growing on the border of Southeast Alaska with Canada. Canada is allowing increased mining opportunities in British Columbia that threaten the habitat and environmental resources of major rivers flowing into Alaska and the sea. Ten major mines are in development on the Stikine and Unuk Rivers. Each of these mines would contain a massive tailings dam. These dams would have to contain thee tailings in perpetuity to avoid damage to the $2 billion fishing and tourism business of Alaska. This is the type of dam that failed at Mt Polley in 2014 damaging the Frasier River watershed. Trout Unlimited and Salmon Beyond Borders have produced a film illustrating the risks to Alaska. View the film at salmonbeyondborders.org .
A 1909 treaty with Canada states "Waters flowing across the boundary shall not be polluted on either side to the injury of health or property on the other". Yet Canada is willing to continues supporting the development of these mines.
Orvis and Trout Unlimited have joined forces in their ongoing 1,000 mile project, which seeks to reconnect -- you guessed it -- 1,000 miles of rivers and streams currently blocked by culverts. Existing culverts are repaired or replaced, in a simple and cost effective process, restoring habitat, access to spawning grounds and reestablishing miles and miles of fishable water. While the latter may be the most enticing for fishermen, all of the impacts of culvert repair are positive for the angler and the ecosystem alike. Read the full story.
Last week the EPA released the results of a study that confirms what anglers, thinking humans and other animals with basic common sense have known all along: what goes on in small streams and wetlands affects the larger streams, rivers and other water bodies they flow into.
Though it may seem nonsensical to suggest that any measure of investigation was necessary to demonstrate what anyone with a rudimentary understanding of gravity would take to be plain fact, the connectivity between headwaters and wetlands and downstream water bodies has been in dispute since a pair of Supreme Court decisions in the early 2000s claimed there was no proven connection between upstream waters and downstream waters, removing protections for small streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act and making them vulnerable to development. Read the full story.
Save the day, April 18, 2015. Trout Unlimited will join with the American River Conservancy and the Cosumnes Culture and Waterways to present "Return of the River" at the Gold Trail Grange in Coloma. Return of the River documents the removal of the dam on the Elwha River on the Olympic peninsula in Washington. Removal of the dam returns 30-40 miles of salmon and steelhead habitat for use by the fish. The film will provide dramatic images of the region, the dam and fish returning to the upper river. The film will be shown at 7:00 PM. Donations will be accepted in-lieu of admission. TU will provide information and conduct a raffle with assorted fishing prizes. Drinks and foods may be provided by the RC or Grange. Parking will be available.
Looking back on 2014, it’s hard not to feel despair for California salmon. Come August, several streams in the Central Valley were drying up. Native fish were absent from many of their summer haunts. There was, however, a startling exception to the run of bad salmon news.
On the Shasta River, a lifeline for Siskiyou County cattle ranchers, more than 18,000 fall-run Chinook salmon returned from the ocean. That’s more than double the return from the previous fall. More importantly, average returns during the past four years have quadrupled.