Initiative Aims to Speed Coho Salmon Recovery in California Coastal Watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino Counties

Coho salmon are getting a boost from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) strategic plan to prioritize salmon restoration and habitat improvement projects in coastal watersheds from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties. In most of these watersheds, coho salmon are in severe decline or locally extinct due to human alterations to land and water resources.

The Priority Action Coho Team (PACT) is designed to focus much needed restoration to help maintain, stabilize and increase localized coho salmon populations. The approach of the PACT initiative is to identify and implement specific short-term actions, drawing from existing state and federal coho salmon recovery plans, to bring immediate benefits.

“PACT employs six strategies emphasizing planning actions and collaboration to accelerate coho salmon recovery from Santa Cruz to Mendocino counties,” said Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Branch Chief. “We look forward to working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) and our many partners on collaborating to recover this amazing fish.”

Watersheds where PACT restoration projects are being implemented include Scott Creek in Santa Cruz County and the Russian River in Sonoma County, where a range of projects to restore and improve stream and estuarine habitat have been carried out. These initiatives include recovery actions such as stream habitat restoration, water conservation, captive rearing and fish rescue, together with improvements to permitting, regulatory and enforcement processes.

PACT was developed jointly by CDFW and NOAA Fisheries, and is part of several initiatives to accelerate the implementation of ecological restoration and stewardship projects in California. Complimentary efforts include the Cutting the Green Tape initiative recently launched by the California Natural Resources Agency, other state agencies and the North Coast Salmon Project.

More information about the PACT process, as well as the link to the report, can be found on the CDFW website.

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Media Contacts:
Stephen Swales, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 376-1746
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

CDFW fish hatchery planting trucks

CDFW’s Salmon Evacuation Decision Pays Exceptional Dividends

In February 2017, damage to the Oroville Dam’s spillways prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream along the Feather River. The raging muddy waters also triggered an emergency decision to relocate millions of young salmon from the Feather River Hatchery to the Thermalito Annex Hatchery to be raised and held until river water conditions improved. Most, if not all, of the young salmon would have otherwise died when mud from the raging river overwhelmed the hatchery waters.

About 2 million spring run Chinook and 5 million fall run Chinook were evacuated during the two-day flood event. Those fish survived and were later released to the wild – helping fuel a record class salmon harvest in the ocean two years later.

Last year, most of the rescued salmon had matured in the ocean and were ready for their migration home to the Feather River. Their survival helped power strong ocean fisheries with one of the largest commercial catches in decades. According to data collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), approximately 272,000 salmon were harvested in the commercial fishery along with a catch of nearly 88,500 in the recreational ocean fishery, while returns to the Feather River basin exceeded 70,000 in 2019.

Ocean fishing activities were an economic stimulus for local communities and industries along the coast and inland. Commercial trollers landed 2.6 million pounds of salmon valued at more than $17.2 million, which was the highest level of harvest since 2013. The Feather River Hatchery was estimated to have contributed one quarter of all commercially harvested salmon and one third of the recreational ocean harvest.

“The return of the salmon released from Feather River Hatchery after the flood event was exceptional,” said Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Acting Chief of the Wildlife Branch. “At several points in the crisis, the majority (if not all) of the young salmon could have been lost. If not for the hard work, ingenuity and dedication of the hatchery employees and staff we could have ended up with nothing.”

The effort to save the young salmon began on Feb. 9 and 10, 2017. More than 60 people from CDFW, the California Department of Water Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and other agencies worked night and day to successfully transfer more than 5 million Chinook salmon to the Thermalito Annex hatchery facility nine miles away. Fisheries and engineering staff also constructed an emergency filtration system for the remaining salmon and steelhead at the Oroville facility, saving an estimated 1.5 million fall Chinook salmon fry that were too small to move and 1.6 million steelhead eggs which lead to a returning year class of 1,874 steelhead in 2018-19.

On March 20, 2017, the first salmon to be released after the evacuation were 1 million state and federally listed threatened spring-run Chinook salmon. They were released successfully into the Feather River. In all, a total of 2 million spring-run Chinook and 5 million fall-run Chinook were released.

Their work did not go unnoticed. Team members received a letter of appreciation from then-Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and were later presented with the CDFW Director’s “Team Award” for their ingenuity and dedicated work to save the salmon and steelhead eggs.

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Media Contacts:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Coast Region, (916) 358-2883

 

CDFW Closes License Sales Counters, Visitors Centers to Help Slow Spread of COVID-19

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily closing areas of high public use including visitor centers and license counters to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

While many business functions will continue during this time, some may be temporarily modified. Before heading to a CDFW facility, please contact the regional headquarters office to determine if that facility is open.

Information on purchasing licenses, permits, tags and other entitlements, can be found on the CDFW website.

Outdoor areas will remain open and available for the public to enjoy. CDFW is responsible for over one million acres of public lands that will remain open. These lands include Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves that provide an opportunity to recreate and explore the rich diversity of fish, wildlife and habitats that California has to offer. CDFW recommends that all visitors follow guidance for social distancing (of at least 6 feet) when visiting our public lands. To explore the outdoor opportunities on CDFW public lands, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/Lands.

As the situation continues to change, please check with your local public health agency and adhere to guidance they provide. Please stay healthy and safe.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

 

Vintage fish planting truck at Long Beach Fred Hall Show

CDFW to Sell Licenses and Warden Stamps, Meet with Public at Long Beach Fred Hall Show

Long Beach-area residents can purchase their 2020 fishing and hunting licenses, validations and report cards directly from California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) staff at the 74th annual Long Beach Fred Hall Show scheduled March 4-8 at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center.

CDFW leaders will participate in a discussion panel followed by a question and answer session. Participants will include Marine Region Manager Dr. Craig Shuman, Assistant Chief of the Marine Enforcement District Mike Stefanak and Inland Desert Region Fisheries Supervisor Russell Black, who will provide an overview of current natural resource and conservation topics and take questions from the public on a variety of issues. The panel discussion is scheduled Friday, March 6, at 3 p.m. in the Mammoth Lakes Seminar Theater. Wayne Kotow, Executive Director for the Coastal Conservation Association of California, will be the moderator.

In addition to the licensing and informational booth where attendees can speak directly to CDFW biologists, wildlife officers and licensing staff, attendees can also learn about a career in CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division by speaking with a wildlife officer at the law enforcement trailer. The trailer features fish and wildlife mounts and a free laser-shot activity. The 2020 Warden Stamp will also be available for purchase. Stamp sales help fund CDFW’s K-9 program and support purchases of enforcement equipment.

Staff from CDFW’s hatchery program will be available as well to talk about fish-rearing and stocking procedures, and a restored 1925 Dodge hatchery truck will be on display along with a modern fish-transporting truck. CDFW’s Fishing in the City program will be on hand to teach kids proper casting and fishing techniques, and kids can use these new skills to catch a fish at the free youth fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout provided by CDFW.

The show will be open from 1 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, Thursday, March 5 and Friday, March 6. On Saturday, March 7, the show runs from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and on Sunday, March 8, the show is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Admission to the Long Beach Fred Hall Show is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors 62 and older, and $15 for military with ID (available only at the ticket window). Children 15 and under enter for free with a paid adult.

CDFW will also have staff at two other sport shows scheduled in March — the Central Valley Sportsmen’s Boat & RV Show March 13-15 at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield, and the Del Mar Fred Hall Show March 26-29 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds (San Diego County).

For more information, please visit www.fredhall.com.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Nov. 4

The salmon ladder at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Rancho Cordova will open Monday, Nov. 4, signaling the start of the spawning season on the American River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder at 10:30 a.m. and will take more than a half-million eggs during the first week alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning return of fall-run Chinook salmon.

The three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Sacramento County, and hatcheries on the Feather River in Butte County and the Mokelumne River in San Joaquin County – will take approximately 24 million eggs over the next two months to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. The visitors’ center at Nimbus Hatchery includes a playground with replicas of giant salmon. Nimbus Hatchery is open to the public free of charge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at each hatchery, please visit the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

There are eight state-run salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. These spawning efforts were put in place over the past half century to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, one-quarter of the stock will be marked and implanted with a coded wire tag prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart their survival, catch and return rates.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 591-1161
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908