Category Archives: Water

Coho Salmon Released in Marin County’s Redwood Creek to Boost Spawning of Endangered Fish

In an effort to boost the population of spawning coho salmon in Marin County’s Redwood Creek, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Park Service (NPS) today released nearly 200 adult coho salmon in the creek at Muir Beach.

The released coho salmon were collected as juveniles from Redwood Creek in the summer of 2015 at an age of 6 to 8 months and reared to adulthood at the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery in Geyserville at the base of the Lake Sonoma Dam.

The release of coho salmon this winter is the culmination of the Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Rescue and Captive Rearing Project. This project, a collaborative effort by CDFW, NPS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, was initiated in 2014 with the goal of preventing the extinction of the coho salmon, which is listed as an endangered species under both the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act.

Prior to 2014, fewer than 10 adult coho salmon were estimated to have returned to Redwood Creek annually to spawn. The long decline of coho salmon in Redwood Creek has been accelerated by recent periods of poor ocean survival combined with the prolonged California drought. Coho salmon are more sensitive to habitat degradation and poor water quality than other Pacific salmon species since they rear as juveniles in freshwater for a year or more.

Biologists hope that the released fish will migrate upstream and spawn in the creek. NPS monitoring staff will survey the creek in the summer of 2018 and collect tissue samples from juvenile fish. Genetic analysis of the tissue samples will indicate how many of the released adult fish produced viable offspring.

The first major release of adult coho salmon in Redwood Creek occurred in the winter of 2016. A third and final release of adult coho salmon is planned for the winter of 2018-19.

More information about the Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Rescue and Captive Rearing Project can be found on the CDFW website at wildlife.ca.gov/Drought/Projects/Redwood-Creek-Coho. The Redwood Creek coho restoration project is part of a broader effort to sustain and restore coho salmon runs along the central and northern California coast.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Manfred Kittel, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5522

Dana Polk, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service, (415) 786-8021
Darren Fong, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service, (415) 289-1838

CDFW Photo by Peter Tira

CDFW Awards $39.7 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration and Protection Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 39 projects to receive funding from its Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) Restoration Grant Programs.

The awards, totaling $39.7 million, were made under CDFW’s 2017 Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs Solicitation (the third of 10 planned annual grant cycles). This includes approximately $31.7 million awarded through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program to projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and approximately $8 million awarded through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program to projects that directly benefit the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The awarded projects represent priorities outlined in the 2017 Solicitation, as well as the California Water Action Plan.

“This round of grants expands the frontier of our Proposition 1 programs to critical watersheds, from as far north as Del Norte County to the Tijuana River watershed in San Diego County,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “This is an important milestone and another step forward in our strategic effort to ensure statewide priorties are addressed through this funding source.”

Projects approved for funding through the Watershed Restoration Grant Program include:

Implementation Projects:

  • Butte Creek Diversion 55 Fish Screen Project – Implementation ($209,633 to Family Water Alliance, Inc.);
  • Deer Creek Irrigation District Dam Fish Passage Improvement Project ($2,198,447 to Trout Unlimited);
  • Dennett Dam Removal ($509,520 to Tuolumne River Trust);
  • Fish Passage and Off-Channel Habitat Restoration at Roy’s Pools ($2,147,997 to Salmon Protection and Watershed Network);
  • Floodplain and Instream Habitat Restoration on San Geronimo Creek ($767,739 to Salmon Protection and Watershed Network);
  • GHMWC Fish Screen Project – Implementation ($1,159,183 to Family Water Alliance, Inc.);
  • Lagunita Diversion Dam Removal Project ($1,226,537 to Leland Stanford Jr. University);
  • Little Shasta Fish Passage Project ($474,114 to California Trout, Inc.);
  • Lower Arroyo Burro Open Space Restoration ($550,000 to City of Santa Barbara);
  • Mill-Shackleford Creek Fish Passage Restoration Project ($522,949 to California Trout, Inc.);
  • North San Diego County Multi-Watershed Enhancement & Restoration for Resiliency ($1,106,136 to San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy);

Planning Projects:

  • Advancing Meadow Restoration in the Truckee and American River Watersheds ($632,098 to Truckee River Watershed Council);
  • Atascadero Subwatershed Coho Habitat Assessment ($114,429 to Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District);
  • Bolsa Chica Lowlands Restoration Project: Sustainability Alternatives Planning Document ($282,492 to Bolsa Chica Land Trust);
  • Burdell Unit Tidal Restoration Feasibility Study ($394,452 to Ducks Unlimited, Inc.);
  • Cook and Butcher Fish Passage and Fish Screen Planning Project ($418,618 to Western Shasta Resource Conservation District);
  • Morrison Creek: Coho Salmon Passage and Habitat Enhancement Planning ($203,577 to Smith River Alliance);
  • Napa River Restoration Oakville to Oak Knoll Design-Group B and D ($750,000 to Napa County);
  • Paynes Creek BWU Fish Passage Assessment and Restoration Project ($345,885 to Trout Unlimited);
  • Restoring Tásmam Kojóm – Big Meadow ($95,130 to Maidu Summit Consortium and Conservancy);
  • Rose Valley Lakes System Alternatives Analysis and Feasibility Study ($194,708 to California Trout, Inc.);
  • Sentenac Cienega Ecosystem Restoration ($552,898 to California Department of Parks and Recreation);
  • TRVRP Brown Fill Restoration Project ($1,328,000 to County of San Diego);
  • Upper Sonoma Creek Habitat Restoration Plan and Demonstration Project Design ($335,738 to Sonoma Ecology Center);

Acquisition Projects:

  • Arcata Community Forest/Humboldt State University- Jacoby Creek Forest Expansion ($1,754,000 to City of Arcata);
  • Hornitos Ranch Conservation Easement Acquisition Project ($3,000,000 to Sierra Foothill Conservancy);
  • Mailliard Navarro and Garcia Rivers Headwaters Forest Project ($1,000,000 to Save the Redwoods League);
  • Mendonca Dairy Acquisition ($3,696,677 to River Partners);
  • Mt. Shasta Headwaters: Soda Springs Conservation Easement ($500,000 to Pacific Forest Trust);
  • Sierra Valley Wetlands/Wet Meadows Conservation Project ($1,723,560 to Feather River Land Trust);
  • Tijuana River Watershed Protection Project ($1,872,408 to The Trust for Public Land); and
  • Walker-Hearne Ranch Acquisition Project ($1,700,000 to Ventura Hillsides Conservancy).

Projects approved for funding through the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program include:

Scientific Studies:

  • A next-generation model of juvenile salmon migration through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ($1,730,903 to University of California Santa Cruz, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology);
  • Application of cutting-edge tools to retrospectively evaluate habitat suitability and flow effects for Longfin Smelt ($604,792 to University of California Davis, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology);
  • Defining the fundamental niche of Longfin Smelt – Spirinchus thaleichthys ($1,597,446 to Regents of the University of California Davis, Office of Research Sponsored Programs);
  • Floodplains, Tidal Wetlands and the Dark Food web: determining heterotrophic carbon contribution to higher level consumers ($636,394 to University of California Davis Center for Watershed Sciences);
  • Impacts of climate change on pesticide bioavailability and sublethal effects on juvenile benefits of floodplain rearing ($963,408 to Regents of the University of California Riverside, Department of Environmental Sciences);
  • Interior Delta Export Effects Study ($1,349,309 to California Department of Water Resources); and
  • Juvenile salmon distribution, abundance, and growth in restored and relict Delta marsh habitats ($1,036,412 to California Department of Water Resources).

General information about CDFW’s Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs, as well as a schedule of locations and dates for workshops, once available, can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants.

Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act 2014 (Proposition 1) bond funds, a portion of which are allocated annually through the California State Budget Act. More information about Proposition 1 can be found here.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

 

Feather River Hatchery Salmon Ladder Now Open

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville opened Monday, Sept. 18, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers opened the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. Normally more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs are taken over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process.

The public viewing areas have been repaired and are safe for the public after sustaining damage in the aftermath of the Oroville Dam spillway incident in February.

As the fall fishing season begins, CDFW reminds anglers to release any fish tagged with green and yellow Hallprint tags located on the dorsal fin. These tags have no monetary value and are used to identify spring-run salmon, a state and federally listed threatened species that cannot be possessed.

Thousands of school children tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222. For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

There are nine state-run anadromous salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all of which will participate in the salmon spawning effort. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of 40 million juvenile fall-run Chinook salmon into California waters. These massive spawning efforts were put in place over the last 50 years 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, 100 percent of the spring-run stock and 25 percent of the fall-run stock will be adipose fin clipped and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the survival, catch and return rates of the fish.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Hatchery, (530) 538-2222

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

 

CDFW Completes 2017 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual waterfowl breeding population survey.

The breeding population of mallards decreased from 263,774 to 198,392 (a decrease of 25 percent) and total ducks decreased from 417,791 to 396,529 (a decrease of five percent).

The decline was not expected, given the abundant precipitation. Low duck observations could be attributed to winter flooding of nesting habitat and the late flooding of rice in the Sacramento Valley.

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report is can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in early August. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

###

Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Threatened Green Sturgeon Rescued from Fremont Weir, Returned to Sacramento River

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently saved a Sacramento River green sturgeon trapped in the Fremont Weir. The five-and-a-half-foot long fish was stranded in the nearly two-mile-long concrete weir when Sacramento River floodwaters receded. Sturgeon in this area are migrating up the Sacramento River to spawn above Red Bluff.

Sacramento River green sturgeon were listed as threatened by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) under the Endangered Species Act in 2006.

“Rescuing adult fish is always important, but because this year’s high flow conditions are optimal for sturgeon, every sturgeon saved is in a good position to spawn,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer. “Every rescue contributes to a brighter future for the species.”

Captured on March 15, the sturgeon was estimated at more than125 pounds and over 50 years of age. Its large size required biologists to encircle it with a net rigged to poles. It was caught by slipping a hoop net over its head and unraveling a sock-like netting down the length of its body to subdue it. The fish was then placed in a specially-designed cradle for transport back to the main channel of the Sacramento River. Biologists took DNA samples, surgically implanted a sonic tracking tag and measured it prior to releasing it.

Rescuing breeding adults is vitally important to the future of the green sturgeon population. This individual’s opportunity to spawn in the future supports the genetic diversity and integrity of the population. Over the last few years, a number of green sturgeon have been acoustically tagged in the greater Sacramento-San Joaquin River system and are being tracked to better estimate population size, distribution and migration patterns.

Recent efforts to assist green sturgeon appear to be helping, according to NOAA green sturgeon recovery coordinator Joe Heublein. He recently stated that he is “cautiously optimistic” that production may start to increase with improvements to spawning habitat accessibility.

Under Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s “California Eco Restore” initiative, a $4.5 million construction project to improve Fremont Weir is slated to start this summer. The changes will improve fish passage back to the Sacramento River as bypass flows recede, reducing the risk of stranding for endangered and threatened salmon and sturgeon.

Recent rescue efforts have saved green and white sturgeon, young fall-, winter- and spring-run Chinook salmon, young and adult steelhead, a lamprey, two species of bass and a host of other native fish.

# # #

Media Contact:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478