Category Archives: Salmon

More gravel to be dumped into American River

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation plans to dump approximately 14,000 tons of gravel into the lower American River to help improve spawning grounds for steelhead trout and Chinook salmon.

To be targeted are existing spawning habitat that consists of large rocks and fine sediment that reduces the ability for fish to construct nests and may reduce the number of eggs surviving and emerging as juvenile fish.

The first load of gravel is scheduled to be deposited in the lower American River on Monday, Sept. 10. All work is expected to be completed by Friday, Sept. 30. All work will be within the confines of the Sailor Bar Recreation Area, near Hazel Avenue and Winding Way in Fair Oaks.

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Sacramento levees’ failure of federal standards declared

Levees protecting most of the city of Sacramento and 15 other areas of the Central Valley were declared today to have failed federal maintenance criteria. As a result, they are no longer eligible for federal rebuilding funds in the event of a levee breach.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers made the declaration today. It did so after concluding that a new state plan to improve Central Valley levees does not provide enough detail to ensure maintenance problems — such as erosion and intrusion by structures — will be fixed.

The affected levee systems include 40 miles of levees wrapping most of the city of Sacramento on the American and Sacramento rivers. This system of levees, known on flood-control maps as “Maintenance Area 9,” includes the south bank of the American River from about Bradshaw Road downstream to the confluence with the Sacramento River, then downstream from there nearly to Courtland.

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Fish and Game staff will prowl rivers checking salmon

There was all but a total collapse of salmon numbers a mere five years ago. Fishing for salmon in the ocean and river systems was closed.

Salmon numbers have rebounded since then. Some of the best salmon fishing in many years is being seen in the ocean. Their favored grub — krill and anchovy — are in the water. Chinook are gorging themselves and getting fat and big.

Not every salmon off the coast of California will be coming up the river systems this year. They return up the rivers to spawn and die when they’re 4 or 5 years of age.

Ocean salmon range from those released from hatcheries mere weeks ago to lunkers that have been reaching their maximum size before they make the run up the rivers.

Limits have been the rule with the ocean fishery. Fat and sassy with a lot of feed, they fight with ferocity.

Because of the tremendous offshore fishery, the main run in the fall is expected to be phenomenal as well in the Mokelumne, San Joaquin, Sacramento, American and Feather rivers.

Because they’re eating so well, there should be numerous record-size fish, too.

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Sacramento gains more funding to aid salmon

Since 2006, Sacramento city officials have received $1.78 million from the U.S. government to help salmon spawn in the summer, and they’re about to get $650,000 more.

The City Council approved funding last week from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the Lower American River Salmonid Spawning Gravel Augmentation Project.

Tom Gohring, executive director for the City-County Office of Metropolitan Water Planning, the office in charge of the program, said the dams and reservoir on the American River stop the “natural movement of sediment and gravel.” He said those items are necessary for successful salmon spawning.

Salmon, like humans, need oxygen to survive, said Lisa Thompson, director for the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture at UC Davis. That means their eggs need to have access to oxygen, as well, which they get from flowing water.

In the egg-laying process, a female salmon will turn on her side and move her tail up and down to lift out some of the finer materials in the gravel while leaving the larger pieces to fall back down. Eggs are then laid in a nest and covered up with the remaining gravel.

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Study: California lacks protocols to manage hatchery salmon

California needs to dramatically reform its fish hatcheries in order to maintain healthy salmon and steelhead populations, according to a major new study.

The $2 million study, released Tuesday by state and federal wildlife agencies, concludes nearly two years of work by a panel of fishery experts. It found, among other things, that the state lacks standard protocols to manage the 40 million salmon it produces each year at eight hatcheries. It also does not do enough field monitoring to fully understand the fate of all those fish.

The hatcheries, most of them on the Sacramento River and its tributaries, were built to atone for the spawning habitat eliminated by dams. But artificial breeding can also weaken the wild salmon that remain, making the entire population more vulnerable to environmental disruptions.

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Low Flow Levels to Help Nimbus Fish Hatchery

Officials will be decreasing the flows of the American River below the Nimbus Dam on August 9 for the annual installation of a structure to help spawning salmon.

What this means is that water levels along the lower American River could fluctuate a few feet, with officials advising caution for anyone who happens to be along the river that day.

The Nimbus Fish Hatchery will be installing a system, called a fish weir structure, that will help guide spawning Chinook salmon into their facility.

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Salmon fishing season opens Central California rivers

Recreational salmon fishing has begun on Central California rivers in what officials call the first normal season since the fall-run Chinook salmon crash five years ago.
The river fishing season was closed in 2008 and 2009.

State Fish and Game fisheries spokesman Stafford Lehr says fishing should be good on the Sacramento, Feather, American and Mokelumne rivers.

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Huge gates in Delta stuck open, posing threat to migrating salmon

A pair of massive water diversion gates in the Delta near Walnut Grove has become stuck open due to a mechanical problem, posing a potential threat to juvenile salmon migrating to the ocean.

The Delta Cross Channel Gates, operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, are used to divert Sacramento River water into the interior of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and then to Reclamation export pumps near Tracy.

This time of year, the gates are normally closed on weekdays to ensure migrating salmon are not diverted from their migratory path in the Sacramento River, and opened on weekends to accommodate boat traffic.

But on Tuesday, while officials were attempting to close the gates after the Memorial Day weekend,one of the two gates could not be closed due to a mechanical problem. So Reclamation has left both gates open while it works on a fix.

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Auburn State Recreation Area cleanup tackles trashed canyon sites

Hundreds of volunteers will be taking out the trash in the American River Canyon on Saturday.

The Earth Week cleanup brings volunteers together with several organizations in a major annual spring effort to remove litter and spruce up the canyon near Auburn.

Eric Peach, a Protect American River Canyons (PARC) board member, said Thursday that volunteers will fan out along both the middle and north forks of the American River from the confluence near the city to not only collect discarded garbage.

“Work will also include minor trail maintenance, removal of invasive non-native plant species and graffiti removal,” Peach said.

The Auburn-based PARC will be working with the California State Parks Foundation, which is holding its 15th annual Earth Day restoration and cleanup around the state. Among the projects are cleanups at both the Auburn State Recreation Area in Placer County and at the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park in Folsom.

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State Water Project allocation is slashed

The California Department of Water Resources has reduced its estimate of the amount of water the State Water Project will deliver this year.

DWR on Wednesday dropped its projected delivery total, or allocation, from 60 percent to 50 percent of the requested amount of slightly more than 4 million acre-feet.

‘’Stubbornly dry conditions this winter give us no choice but to roll back our water supply estimate,” says DWR Director Mark Cowin. “We continue to hope, however, that wetter conditions in the remaining winter weeks will allow us to boost deliveries back up.”

DWR says that precipitation so far this winter has been only about half of normal and the mountain snowpack is less than a third of normal.

Water Year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30) runoff from rain and snow is forecasted to be far below average in both the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River systems. The median runoff forecast of 9.4 million acre-feet for the Sacramento River system would be the 16th driest in 106 years.

The February 1 median water year runoff forecast of 3.2 million acre-feet for the San Joaquin River system would be the 21st driest in 111 years.

Average runoff is 18.3 million acre-feet for the Sacramento system, and 5.9 million acre-feet for the San Joaquin.

Much of California’s water comes from the mountainous country from Shasta Lake in the north to the American River basin in the south. DWR’s eight precipitation gages covering this area recorded an impressive 130 percent of average rainfall and snow in October, but only 43 percent in November, 4 percent of average in December, 84 percent of average in January, and 18 percent of a normal February total to date this month. Overall, this “Eight-Station Index” area to date is at 51percent of its seasonal precipitation average. Records go back to 1920.

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