The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold two public meetings to discuss the proposed low-flow closure changes to the Russian River and North Central Coast streams.
The first meeting is Wednesday, July 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, 5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A, in Santa Rosa. The second meeting is Thursday, July 31 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Gualala Community Center, 47950 Center St. in Gualala near the intersection of Center Street and South Highway 1.
A CDFW representative will detail the proposed regulation changes. Following the short presentation, interested parties can make comments and provide input that will help shape CDFW’s final recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission, which CDFW anticipates presenting at the Commission’s meeting in Van Nuys in December.
The Russian River and other North Central Coast streams provide critical life-stage habitat for coastal Chinook salmon, coho salmon and steelhead trout. All three of these species are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Coho salmon is also listed under the California ESA.
CDFW is preparing regulatory changes for Title 14, Chapter 3, Article 4, section 8, part (b) to add low-flow fish restrictions to the Russian River and base the closure of North Central Coast streams on one or more stream gauges on rivers that are more representative of these North Central Coast streams than the current regulated flows of the Russian River. These proposed regulatory actions are based upon fishery impact concerns that have arisen during the past three years of drought conditions. During the past two winters, salmon entering these streams were forced to congregate into the remaining pools below restricted passage areas, and then were subject to heavy angling pressure. In both years the Russian River and North Central Coast streams have dropped to mere trickles, yet have remained open to fishing till an emergency closure was enacted by the Fish and Game Commission in February 2014. This emergency action expired on April 30, 2014.
The two public meetings are being led by CDFW to solicit public comments regarding the regulatory changes that are proposed to protect these ESA-listed fish while still providing sport fishing opportunities. In addition to these public meetings, individuals and organizations may submit comments in writing. The written comments can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail addressed to CDFW, Bay Delta Region, Attn: Ryan Watanabe, 5355 B Skylane Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.
Ryan Watanabe, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (707) 576-2815
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944