Tag Archives: dams

Surge in lamprey population in Eel River

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Swimming by the thousands up the Eel River this year, Pacific lamprey are literally climbing the wall of a dam near Potter Valley in Mendocino County.

Driven by the biological imperative to spawn in the river’s gravel beds, the snake-shaped, prehistoric fish — commonly mistaken for eels — have almost no chance of scaling the 63-foot high Cape Horn Dam.

For decades, their best option has been a fish ladder that flanks the dam, but even it halts the migratory journey for most lamprey, a largely ignored ocean-going species that shares the stream with federally protected chinook salmon and steelhead trout. Those that do clear the passage, by inching their way up the concrete walls, take up to five weeks to do so.

“They go crazy at night just trying to find a way up,” said Scott Harris, a Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist who runs the Van Arsdale Fisheries Station next to the dam.

The surge of lamprey numbers at the dam this year is a mystery, but wildlife watchers welcome the spectacle as a possible sign of a rebound in the population that mistakenly gave the Eel River its name in the 19th century.

Read more at: At Eel River dam, thousands of spawning lamprey make for natural spectacle | The Press Democrat

Filed under Water, Wildlife

Baby salmon trickle back to Russian River waterways after a long absence

Stephen Nett, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

After an absence of more than a decade, a trickle of salmon are finally finding their way back to Sonoma County streams, thanks to private landowners and a coalition of conservationists.

Roughly 22 million years ago, the fish we know as salmon evolved the complicated biology they needed to commute between inland freshwater streams and the open salty ocean. Thus began one of the most remarkable life cycle journeys known on the planet.

Two million years ago, on the ancient California coastline, the salmon would have found a perfect cold and clear waterway emptying into the Pacific near the mouth of today’s Russian River. Running a hundred miles back among high ridges and dense redwood forest, its widely branching network of creeks and tributaries made ideal habitat for the spawning fish and its young.

And that paleo-Russian River has been the salmon’s home ever since.

So it came as a shock in 2001 when naturalists, fishermen and the community discovered that the number of coho salmon counted returning to the Russian River, once totaling 100,000, had dwindled to only 5.

It was found that throughout the watershed, the populations had crashed, and the salmon were disappearing, stream by stream. By 2004, only 3 of 39 tributaries and creeks in the entire watershed held any coho at all.

This past December, in a quiet event out of public view, red-flushed mature coho salmon were once again found spawning in the tree-shaded upper reaches of Mill Creek west of Healdsburg, where they had been virtually absent for decades.

That small, exciting homecoming was no accident. It came after more than 10 years of study and planning, captive breeding and painstaking stream rehabilitation by a smorgasbord of local, state, and federal agencies, private groups, academic institutions, community coalitions and concerned individuals.

And the vital key and the unsung heroes of the salmon rescue, according to those involved, are some of the private landowners whose property surrounds Mill Creek. In a scene that’s playing out along hundreds of miles of streams and creeks across Sonoma County, individual landowners are proving to be the crucial link in bringing the salmon home again.

Read more at: Baby salmon trickle back to Russian River waterways after a long absence | The Press Democrat

Filed under Habitats, Water, Wildlife

Pacific Institute report provides insights on California’s Proposition 1: The Water Bond

Press Release, PACIFIC INSTITUTE

With the state facing serious and deepening water challenges, voters on November 4th will be asked whether to approve Proposition 1, the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014. The ballot measure would raise $7.12 billion in new general obligation bonds along with reallocating an additional $425 million of previously authorized, but unissued, bonds to fund a wide range of water-related actions and infrastructures. When the full costs of the bond are assessed, including interest payments, Proposition 1 will cost over $14 billion and be the fourth largest water bond in California history.

The Pacific Institute, an internationally-renowned independent think tank focused on water issues, has released a report that helps voters untangle the complexities of the water bond measure. The Pacific Institute is taking no formal position for or against Proposition 1.

The report, Insights into Proposition 1: The 2014 California Water Bond, and its executive summary, notes that California’s pressing water troubles require expanded investment, changes in policy and institutions, and in some cases fundamentally new technologies, policies, laws, and behavior. The water bond is only one solution – and perhaps an imperfect one at that – when many are needed.

“California voters are faced with a difficult decision on the water bond,” says Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. “Our new report looks at the subtleties along with the complexities of the bond measure to help voters make wise decisions at the polls.”

With the goal of informing voters, the report analyzes the bond’s key provisions and their potential impacts. The report explains how funds would be allocated, including how the water storage funds may be divided among competing projects. It also describes how the bond addresses the needs of disadvantaged communities and ecosystems.

via New Report Provides Insights on California’s Proposition 1 – Pacific Institute.

Filed under Sustainable Living, Water

Opinion: Prop. 1 – One more shovel of dirt on the grave of our fisheries

Zeke Grader, MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL

The next time you crack open a crab, or are served a plate of our delicious salmon, think about the near-extinction of these fantastic seafoods due to overpumping our rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary to water desert mega-farms.

The salmon and crab that are essential to Northern California diet and culture, and the $1.4 billion this fishing industry contributes to our economy, will eventually disappear from our dinner plates if Proposition 1 passes in the November election.

Proposition 1 is one more shovel of dirt on the grave of our salmon, crab and other Pacific fisheries.

Proposition 1’s biggest spending is to build more dams to hold water we don’t have.

That’s misplaced spending and harms the businesses, families and communities that depend upon our salmon, crab and other fisheries.

Our water shortage is not an engineering problem Proposition 1 can solve with billions of dollars of concrete. The 1 percent of additional water that may come from Proposition 1’s dam-building has already been spoken for 5 to 7 times over.

That’s how much water has been promised beyond what we have available each year. We don’t have enough water to fill our existing reservoirs, so what good is Proposition 1’s spending to enlarge them?

Read more via Marin voice: Prop. 1 – One more shovel of dirt on the grave of our fisheries – Marin Independent Journal.

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living, Water, Wildlife