Nimbus Hatchery Offering Presentation On Drought, Salmon

The public is invited to a free presentation May 3 at Nimbus Hatchery on how California’s drought is affecting salmon and steelhead populations in the American River.

The event is offered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which operates the hatchery, one of five in the Central Valley that produce most of the salmon caught by commercial and recreational anglers in the state.

Rob Titus, a senior environmental scientist at the department, will discuss the state of salmon and steelhead runs and the challenges the drought poses to their survival. He’ll also outline actions the agency is taking to protect these fish and improve their survival. Forest Williams of the Sacramento County Water Agency will then describe ways the public can reduce water use and lessen human impact on the river.

Both speakers will take questions from the audience.

The event begins at 11 a.m. May 3 in the hatchery visitor center. No advance registration is required. The hatchery is at 2001 Nimbus Road in Rancho Cordova.

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Complaint Alleges American River Flows Too Slow, Warm In Sacramento Area

The federal government’s operation of Folsom and Nimbus dams is harming fall-run Chinook salmon and steelhead in the American River, several environmental and fishing groups allege in a complaint filed this week with the state.

The groups are urging the State Water Resources Control Board to amend the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s permits to require colder and faster river flows from the two dams. The board has authority over water rights issued to the Bureau of Reclamation, as well as responsibility for protecting public trust resources, including fisheries and water quality. The board first issued operating permits for the dams in 1958.

“We’ve got to have a guaranteed higher flow, and there have to be modifications to Folsom Dam that will allow them to tap the coldest (water) pool in the reservoir,” said Stephen Green, president of Save the American River Association. “When temperatures are high and flows are low, we know that fish are being killed, and it’s not just this year. It’s been going on for decades.”

The other groups involved in the complaint are the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, California Save Our Streams Council and the Public Trust Alliance.

The water board is reviewing the complaint, which was received on April 4, said spokesman George Kostyrko. If it decides the complaint has merit, it could be scheduled for a hearing or further investigation.

“It is still early in the process, so we haven’t arrived at that, or any conclusions yet,” Kostyrko said via email.

Reclamation officials said they haven’t reviewed the complaint yet and had no comment.

Reclamation’s permit with the state allows it to reduce flows in the lower American River, which cuts through the Sacramento area, to as low as 250 cubic feet per second under certain conditions. Such flows were reached earlier this winter because of the drought, and may occur again this summer and fall. The complaint alleges this is insufficient to support healthy fish life, and should be raised to at least 750 cfs, Green said.

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Folsom Lake Boating Season Open — But For How Long?

Sailboat owner Ron Hitchcock has enjoyed sailing on Folsom Lake for the past 17 years. But this year, he’s giving up his boat slip at the Brown’s Ravine Marina.

“Why? Because there’s no water. I’ll get on the waiting list and try again next year,” said Hitchcock.

Hitchcock’s decision comes as marina operators are advising boaters that the docks, which just opened last weekend, may be closed again in a matter of weeks due to low water levels.

“I’m thinking we’ll get into May, but there are no guarantees,” said Ken Christensen.

Christensen also said the 5 mph speed limit could return as early as the beginning of June if the lake falls fast enough.

“There’s limited space out there. You have to be constantly watching because you are so close to the bottom,” said Arnold Boeck, a sailboat owner.

Inside the Chevron Food Mart along Green Valley Road, the owner expressed relief that at least the boat docks are now open.

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Volunteers Will Clean Up American River Parkway This Weekend

It’s going to be a beautiful weekend, and you can get out and enjoy the weather while helping the American River Parkway Foundation with its  “Spring Clean Up.”

Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters says the clean-up is an important activity.

“The annual effort helps maintain the American River Parkway as a sustainable, natural resource for everyone to enjoy,” she said.

It’s not too late to join in tomorrow morning.

“It’s very easy to sign up if you go to the website of the American River Parkway Foundation, it’s,” she said.

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Recent Rain, Snow Bring Surge Of Water To Folsom Lake

After days of rain in the Valley and snow in the Sierra, California reservoirs are getting a much needed surge of water.

In the last seven days, Folsom Lake has risen 4.34 feet, according the California Department of Water Resources statistics.

As of midnight Wednesday, Folsom Lake’s surface elevation was 409.42 feet.  The lake hit its lowest point this season in early February when it was at 357.06 feet, according to the state’s data exchange.

Even with the surge of water, Folsom Lake remains just 45 percent of capacity and 69 percent of normal for this date.

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Outdoors: Wealth Of New Information In American River Guidebook


A ceramist by profession, and by passion, Eric Peach often leaves his home studio in Auburn to venture down into the American River Canyon, looking for inspiration in the rushing white water, the winding trails, the abundant wildlife and bountiful flora of a thriving ecosystem.

You can see the result in his works, ranging from playful river otters to fish sculptures to those psychedelically hued fire belly newts.

But you can also see Peach’s love for the American River and its foothills in bookstores and at outdoor retailers. The third edition of “The American River: Insider’s Guide to Recreation, Ecology and Cultural History of the North, Middle and South Forks” ($24.95, Protect American River Canyons, 416 pages) recently was released, all proceeds going to the nonprofit Protect American River Canyons, the organization that sponsors the American River Confluence Festival and other fundraising events.

Peach, 64, and wife Paula enlisted no fewer than 44 writers and editors, and 30 photo and graphics contributors, to completely revamp the second edition, published a decade ago. This time around, 15 trails were added, as were scores of new and updated rafting routes, including a new stretch from the confluence down to Rattlesnake Bar. There’s also a complete digest of plants and trees, birds, reptiles and mammals, as well as an exhaustive history of the area, from the Indian settlements up to the now-revived attempts to dam the river.

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Trucking Of Sacramento River Salmon Starts Monday

More than 12 million juvenile hatchery salmon will get a truck trip downstream starting Monday to help them circumvent the harmful effects of drought on the Sacramento River.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the plan Friday, as a way of bolstering survival rates for the fish. The Sacramento River, compromised by California’s persistent drought, is too low to provide adequate food and protection from predators, potentially jeopardizing a crop of fish that supports the state’s commercial and recreational salmon fishing industries.

Agency spokesman Steve Martarano said it will take 22 days to transport all the fish in tanker trucks from Coleman National Hatchery near Red Bluff. The first salmon will be trucked in a trial run on Monday, with additional shipments continuing Tuesday, if all goes well. Each delivery will deposit the fish back into the Sacramento River near Rio Vista.

Each truck holds about 2,800 gallons of water and 130,000 salmon smolts – juveniles 4 to 6 inches long – and is climate-controlled to maintain a water temperature between 55 and 60 degrees.

The agency owns only two such trucks, so it will borrow five from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state agency also plans to truck its salmon production from four hatcheries, including Nimbus Hatchery on the American River, starting April 4.

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Folsom Lake Water Levels On The Rise

Folsom Lake is on the rise. The lake has risen 43-feet in the last month, stretching above the 400-foot mark and that means the current five-miles-per-hour speed limit for boats is being lifted.

California State Parks officials say the speed restriction was in place because of lower lake levels with rocks and sandbars much closer to the water’s surface.

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In Severe Drought Plan, California Salmon May Be Moved By Truck

Starting next month, millions of young California salmon could be migrating to the ocean in tanker trucks instead of swimming downstream in the Sacramento River.

On Monday, state and federal wildlife officials announced a plan to move hatchery-raised salmon by truck in the event the state’s ongoing drought makes the Sacramento River and its tributaries inhospitable for the fish. They fear the rivers could become too shallow and warm to sustain salmon trying to migrate to sea on their own.

Shrunken habitat could deplete food supply for the young fish, and make them easier prey for predators. It also would make the water warmer, which can be lethal to salmon.

“The conditions may be so poor as to produce unacceptable levels of mortality for the out-migrating juveniles,” said Bob Clarke, fisheries program supervisor at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Clarke’s agency operates Coleman National Fish Hatchery on Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River near Red Bluff. It is the largest salmon hatchery in the state, producing about 12 million fall-run Chinook salmon. The hatchery was built to atone for habitat losses caused by construction of Shasta Dam.

Coleman hatchery salmon are usually released into Battle Creek in April and May. Fishery experts prefer to release young fish into rivers so they imprint on the location as “home” and are better able to migrate back from the ocean for spawning three to four years later.

Fall-run Chinook salmon from the Sacramento River and its tributaries compose the bulk of the wild-caught salmon available in California markets and restaurants, and also feed a lucrative sport-fishing industry. In total, these fish represent a multibillion-dollar slice of the state’s economy each year.

California is experiencing one of its driest winters on record. Despite the recent storms, the Sierra snowpack that the state relies on to replenish its reservoirs remains depleted. Without an unusually wet March – and the long-term forecast calls for predominantly dry weather – officials fear rivers may be so diminished in April and May that young salmon will not survive their migration to the ocean.

They are also concerned that water diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta during a low-water year could slaughter many of these young salmon, which measure about 6 inches long. Water pumped out of the Delta by state and federal agencies serves 25 million people from Napa to San Diego.

The trucking plan, devised by the state and federal fisheries agencies, includes a series of triggers, based on river and water supply conditions, that would launch a massive operation to haul the salmon in tanker trucks on a nearly three-hour drive from Red Bluff to San Pablo Bay near Vallejo. There, the salmon would be released into floating net pens to acclimate to new salinity and temperature conditions, then set free to swim for the ocean.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is adopting similar plans for its hatcheries on the Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers. Each produces several million young salmon every year.

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$150 Million For Sacramento Region Flood Control Projects

Nicole Ortega-Jewell with the Corps’ Civil Works Branch says more than $25 million will ensure the completion of levee work along the American River.

“These will actually be the last remaining sections. They’re scattered throughout the American River and actually this will complete all of the work that was authorized back in 1996 and ’99.”

The work is scheduled to be finished next year.

$69 million will go to Folsom Dam projects.

Marysville and Hamilton City levee projects will also be funded.

For the first time, money was allocated for project engineering and design work for the Natomas Levee Improvement Project.

Nearly $11 million will go to improvements in South Sacramento at Florin Creek.

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