Category Archives: Salmon

Fishermen Get Trapped On Island Below Nimbus Dam After Gates Open

Four fishermen were stranded after the gates of Nimbus Dam opened and increased the water flow around the island they were on.

The incident happened late Tuesday morning just below the Nimbus Dam on the American River.

Sacramento Metro Fire says some fisherman were on an island just below the dam gates. The gates were getting ready to open and when they did, the water flow increased to the point that the fishermen couldn’t make it back across.

A crew was launched to rescue the fishermen and bring them back safely. No one was injured.

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Folsom Lake water release going into rising American River

Water releases out of Folsom Lake were doubled Tuesday morning after weekend rains increased the inflows into the lake, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

The outflows via Folsom Dam were increased from 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 6,000 cfs, with the flows expected to sprawl downstream into the low-lying areas, as opposed to the American River rising, the bureau said. The initial plan was to increase the outflow by up to 8,000 cfs by Thursday, but it may increase to as high at 15,000 cfs.

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Folsom Lake Level Far Ahead of Last Year

Folsom Lake level continues to rise.

Per the California Department of Water Resources, as of November 27, the lake stands at approximately 447,000 acre feet, about 3 times as much as last year at this time.

Although it is still 5% below the average for this time of year, note that usually we’re still losing water, with levels decreasing through late December. This year, the level has been growing since mid-October.

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Gigantic Spike-Toothed Salmon Swam In California Rivers 5M Years Ago

At 400 pounds and 8 feet long, this salmon would be good eating—if only it wasn’t extinct. Oncorhynchus rastrosus, the giant spike-toothed salmon, lived in California for around 7 million years, going extinct 5 million years ago. This monster salmon, which is closely related to modern Pacific salmon and actually a member of the same genus, luckily left behind clues about its life and behaviors in its fossil remains. New research by paleontologist Julia Sankey at California State University Stanislaus and colleagues in PaleoBiosgets to the bottom of how this behemoth lived and bred.

Spike-teeth or saber-teeth? When this salmon species was first described, researchers called it a “sabertooth salmon” because of the long, robust teeth on its upper jaw, but actually they point outward instead of downward. This makes them more spike-teeth rather than sabers. The teeth were around 1.5 inches long and pointed straight out from the top of the jaw– likely used for breeding, digging and fighting. Living Pacific salmon fight with each other during mating season for the breeding rights to females, but did O. rastrosus do the same?

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Why are salmon dying? (Hint: It’s a good thing…)

Dead salmon are washing up on banks of the American River. It sounds gruesome but it’s actually a good thing.
The annual salmon run is underway and the fish have traveled thousands of miles to spawn then die in our waterways.
“Within the last decade we have seen a downward trend,” said Department of Fish and Wildlife researcher Jeana Phillips. The DFW keeps a close eye on the salmon population. Every year a team of researchers count dead salmon after they have spawned.
The American River Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Rancho Cordova is full of salmon right now. A number of salmon in the American River were released from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Salmon hatch in rivers then make their way to the ocean where they spend 3 to 4 years. When they are ready to breed. Salmon leave the ocean, head back to the area they were born, lay eggs, then die.
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Folsom, Granite Bay among those called out for dramatic increase in water use

Californians are continuing to use more water, state drought regulators said Tuesday, with residents of Folsom and Granite Bay among those who’ve ramped up their consumption the most.

The State Water Resources Control Board announced that urban consumption grew by 8 percent in September compared with a year ago. It was the fourth straight month of higher consumption now that strict conservation mandates have been relaxed. Water districts used about 170 billion gallons of water, an increase of 13 billion gallons compared with September 2015, the agency said.

In its announcement, the state board pointed to six urban agencies that experienced “sharp reductions in conservation,” including two in Greater Sacramento – the city of Folsom and the San Juan Water District. Folsom’s usage rose 25 percent in September compared with a year ago. Consumption in the San Juan district, which includes Granite Bay, grew by 29 percent. By contrast, consumption in the city of Sacramento grew by 8 percent, matching the statewide average.

Californians managed to conserve 18.3 percent in September compared with 2013, the baseline established by state officials. But a year ago, when statewide conservation regulations were in place, the savings rate was a more robust 26.2 percent.

“Overall, we’re happy to see millions of Californians and many water agencies continue significant conservation,” said board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus in a prepared statement. “Conversely, we’re concerned to see some agencies return to using hundreds of gallons per person per day while saving little. … We need to keep conserving.”

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Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Nov. 2

The salmon ladder at Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova will open Wednesday, Nov. 2, signaling the start of the spawning season on the American River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the ladder gates at 10:45 a.m. Hatchery employees may take more than a half-million eggs during the first week of operation alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning of the returning fall run Chinook salmon.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Over the next two months, the three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – the Nimbus Hatchery in Sacramento County, the Feather River Hatchery in Butte County and the Mokelumne River Hatchery in San Joaquin County – will take approximately 24 million eggs in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

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Sacramento water agencies work together, adapting to drought

Dr. Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, is the godfather of research on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. When he says it took John Sutter eight days to wind his way from San Francisco Bay through the Delta to find the narrow Sacramento River in 1839, you can bet that’s the truth. Not until 1913 was the mouth of the river dredged to make it a mile wide. Grizzly bears roamed the wildness, feasting on an abundance of native fish, until they were hunted to local extinction. Today in the Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of North America, only remnants remain of the natural landscape before it was irreversibly altered at the hands of people.

The Delta is a system of canals. In places, you can stand on a man-made levee with high water on one side and sunken land on the other. For 7,000 years, sediment accumulated to form deposits of organically-rich peat soil, but the last 170 years of farming have undone this natural process. About 2,300 dump trucks worth of soil is lost per day, oxidized as carbon dioxide and all told, about half of the Delta’s soil material is now gone, says Curt Schmutte, a civil engineer who specializes in Delta issues. We named plots of land in the Delta “islands,” but scientists refer to them — the majority below sea level — as “holes.”

I’m with a tour group on a hot September afternoon, and we hold onto our hats and brace ourselves as the boat tears through the water at 40 miles per hour, past invasive water hyacinth, tules, fishermen, houseboats, farmland and cattle. The Delta accumulates water from California’s largest watershed and acts as the hub of the state’s water supply system, linking water from the north to the two biggest water projects, which play a major role in sustaining the world’s sixth largest economy and much of its industry, agriculture and 39 million people.

But the Delta exists under unrelenting pressure: from land-use change, population growth, nutrient pollution from wastewater treatment plants, earthquakes, agriculture, sea-level rise and more. Even with money, there’s no silver bullet to fix this ecosystem — but there are plenty of battling sides. “It’s like a game of chicken,” Lund says. “How do you break a game of chicken?”

Was it Mark Twain who proclaimed, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over”? When it comes to this natural resource, our state is rife with conflict. And, perhaps, in the Sacramento region, open to resolution. While the state is all-consumed with water wars, the region’s efforts toward collaboration are easy to overlook. The best example is the landmark Water Forum Agreement, which 22 water agencies from Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer counties signed in 2000 to balance the environmental and human needs of the lower American River.

Now, water agencies have joined together again to launch the River Arc Project. Proponents say the project has the potential for a groundbreaking impact. It would help recharge groundwater through a management practice called “conjunctive use.” It would also allow for ongoing growth by creating an additional source of water to lessen demand on the lower American River and Folsom Lake, which already provide drinking water to 1 million residents, says Andy Fecko, director of resource development at Placer County Water Agency. “What’s unique about our region is we’re doing this before we have a crisis.”

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Federal Project Aims To Increase Salmon, Trout In American River

Gravel, sand and rocks are being sorted and washed along the American River – preparing the area for salmon and trout.

It’s a huge federal project underway with a plan to increase the number of salmon and trout.

So who’s footing the bill, and how much does it cost?

About a mile west of Sunrise Boulevard is where workers are cleaning and sorting rocks getting the river primed for salmon. Heavy construction equipment traverses the banks of the American River at Sacramento Bar four miles downstream from Nimbus Dam.

“They’ll be habitat in here for the small fish. We’ll put wood in here and some willows growing up,” said John Hannon, a fish biologist with the Bureau of Reclamation.

This federally backed program has a mission: a home makeover for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

“The existing gravel is too large for the fish to use in this area, so this new gravel is smaller and the fish will be able to reproduce successfully,” Hannon said.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the number of spawning fish here has been on the decrease since early 2000.

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