Tag Archives: hatcheries

CDFW Releases First Million of Evacuated Fish into Feather River

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released one million state and federally listed threatened spring-run Chinook salmon into the Feather River on Monday, March 20.

These were the first fish to be released that were evacuated from the Feather River Hatchery in Oroville on Feb. 9, when the water became dangerously murky following the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway. The fish were moved to the Feather River/Thermalito Annex Hatchery and held there until conditions improved.

“Based on the weather forecast and current reservoir storage, we are anticipating high flows in the Feather River for some time,” said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Colin Purdy. “Releasing these fish now should allow them to imprint on Feather River water and move downstream before flows drop back down to normal levels.”Annex release 2

Central Valley spring-run Chinook are a state and federally listed species and their abundance has declined considerably during the recent drought. The Feather River Fish Hatchery plays a key role in the state’s efforts to propagate this unique run of Chinook salmon.

“Today’s fish release marks the success of federal and state agencies coordinating and managing valuable resources while ensuring public safety during a crisis situation,” said Howard Brown, NOAA Sacramento River Basin Branch Chief. “NOAA Fisheries remains deeply concerned with the damage of the Oroville spillways and is committed to reducing further threats to California communities and ecosystems.”

“This is another example of the extraordinary multi-agency effort to respond to this unfortunate incident,” said California Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle. “We will continue to work closely to protect the Feather River and its fisheries.”

Of the fish that were evacuated, another million spring-run Chinook and three million fall-run Chinook remain at the Annex Hatchery. CDFW and NOAA fisheries staff will continuously evaluate the remaining salmon and begin planting them in northern California Rivers when the fish are mature enough.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958
Jim Milbury, NOAA Fisheries, (562) 980-4006

 

Northern California Hatchery Workers Save Millions of Trout and Salmon

Following recent heavy rains, workers at the Nimbus and American River hatcheries labored around the clock to prevent massive debris loads from clogging the main water supply for below Nimbus Dam. Their intense efforts to clean intake structures and adjust water flows during battering winds and rains saved millions of eggs and young fish over the 11-day ordeal.

After a winter deluge from Jan. 7-18, the two hatcheries’ main water source experienced clogging that affected the water distribution system, putting more than 5.5 million trout and salmon eggs and 3 million young trout, steelhead and salmon in peril.

hatchery-1
Hatchery worker cleaning debris from a holding tank

Both hatcheries are on a gravity water flow supply from the main intake screen at Nimbus Dam. There are no other filters until the water reaches each hatchery.

January storms swelled water levels at Folsom and Nimbus dams to the highest points since the El Niño floods of 1997-1998. The high flows resulted in a release of up to 60,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) from Nimbus Dam, while the normal rate is around 6,000-10,000 cfs. This huge water flow swept up debris that had collected above water line during the extensive drought. The debris clogged, overwhelmed and then incapacitated the automatic cleaning screen at the intake, compromising water flow to both hatcheries.

In a joint cooperative effort and at the height of the crisis, technicians from the Bureau of Reclamation devised a simple but effective way to quickly remove the debris clogging the main intake screen. They also bypassed systems that limited the time between cleaning cycles on the machinery, thereby allowing CDFW personnel to monitor the process 24 hours a day and keep water flowing to the hatcheries.

“It was a tense situation that called on our staff to work double shifts cleaning and operating the main intake structure screen and unclogging egg incubation jars inside each hatchery,” said Nimbus Hatchery Manager Paula Hoover. “They were working as fast as they could, 24/7, to save the fish.”

At American River Hatchery, the recent crisis threatened 1.4 million trout eggs in various stages of development, along with 1.7 million young trout. The fish and eggs were in danger of suffocation as the debris clog caused reduced oxygen levels and reduced the flow of water as much as 50 percent. Further complicating operations, the drum filter for the hatchery building was overwhelmed by the increased sediment, prompting workers to create a bypass to keep water flowing to the building.

The hatchery raises more than 2.5 million trout annually for planting in lakes, rivers and streams in 15 counties throughout northern and central California. More than a quarter of a million anglers utilize these waters for recreational fishing.

None of the Golden Trout rescued from the Volcanic Wilderness Area due to drought conditions were affected because they are housed in aquaculture systems that can be switched to 100 percent recirculation as needed. These Golden Trout will be kept at the hatchery until conditions in their natural habitat improve and they can be released back to the wild, likely in the late spring or early summer of this year.

At Nimbus Hatchery, 450,000 steelhead and 4.5 million salmon in various stages of development faced the same dire situation. Preparing for the worst, staff had emergency equipment ready to perform on-site releases of more than 250,000 year-old steelhead into the raging American River if conditions at the hatchery deteriorated further.

“The recreational and economic impact from potential loss of trout, salmon and steelhead from these two hatcheries would be substantial,” said North Central Region Fisheries Program Manager Kevin Thomas. “As usual, dedicated CDFW hatchery staff demonstrated exceptional care and effort, helping millions of fish survive to provide recreational, commercial and tribal fishing opportunities for California and the businesses they support.”

# # #

Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2883
Dr. Mark Clifford, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (530) 918-9450
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. The visitors’ center at Nimbus Hatchery also includes a playground with replicas of giant salmon that are enjoyed by young and old alike. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at each hatchery, please visit the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

Together, state and federally operated hatcheries raise 40 million juvenile salmon for release into California waters each year. Once the young salmon reach 2 to 4 inches in length, one-quarter of the stock are marked and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart survival, catch and return rates. These massive spawning and tracking efforts were put in place over the last 50 years to offset fish losses caused by dams that block salmon from historic spawning habitat.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 358-2884
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Mt. Shasta Hatchery “Kids’ Fishing Days” Canceled Indefinitely

Due to an outbreak of Whirling Disease last year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be canceling the popular “Kids’ Fishing Days” at the Mt. Shasta Hatchery indefinitely. The hatchery typically hosted several such events each summer.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to cancel an event that’s been held annually since 1992,” said Neil Manji, CDFW Northern Region Manager. “However, we need to continue our careful decontamination process at Mt. Shasta in order to ensure the long-term health of the fish there.”

Mt-shasta-Hatchery-346
Mt. Shasta Fish Hatchery

A separate “Kids’ Fishing Day” is still scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at Grace Lake in Shingletown. Similar events were held in March and April in Redding and Bend.

Whirling disease is caused by Myxobolus cerebralis, a protozoan parasite that destroys cartilage in the vertebral column of trout and salmon. It is fatal or disfiguring to infected trout and salmon but does not affect humans. Fish infected with whirling disease are safe for human consumption.

Whirling disease was found in three CDFW hatcheries in 2015 and has been contained with hatchery operations resuming in all three. CDFW pathologists routinely inspect each of the 13 state-run trout hatcheries which raise approximately 10 million trout for California anglers statewide, as well as the nine hatcheries that raise over 31 million young salmon and steelhead.

###

Media Contacts:
Monty Currier, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2368

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Nov. 2

The salmon ladder at Nimbus Hatchery in Rancho Cordova will open Monday, 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 gates in the ladder at 9:30 a.m. and may take more than a half-million eggs during the first week alone in an effort to ensure the successful spawning of the returning fall-run Chinook salmon. 

California is entering what may be a fifth year of unprecedented drought. Because of current river conditions, salmon are returning later in the year than typical. Overall, the fall-run Chinook salmon return numbers are lower than normal. CDFW seeks to match historic hatchery production goals this year, but that may not be possible given the conditions.

“Drought conditions may affect the number of salmon returning to the river to spawn, but hatchery workers will continue to collect eggs throughout the fall with a goal of producing four million salmon fry,” said CDFW Program Manager Dr. Bill Cox. “We are working closely with other federal and state agencies to release cold water into the river system to give salmon the best chance to get up river to the hatchery.”

The three major state-run hatcheries in the Central Valley – the Nimbus 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 in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

Each hatchery has a viewing area where visitors can watch the spawning process. Thousands of schoolchildren tour the Nimbus and Feather River hatcheries each year. The visitors’ center at Nimbus Hatchery includes a playground with replicas of giant salmon that are enjoyed by young and old alike. 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. Those hatcheries, along with federally run hatcheries, will be responsible for the release of approximately 40 million juvenile 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, one-quarter of the stock will be marked and implanted with coded wire tags prior to release. CDFW biologists use the information from the tags to chart the salmon’s survival, catch and return rates.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 358-2884
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944