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‘Haven’t been seen for 25 years’: rains bring salmon back to California streams

Reuters, THE GUARDIAN

Endangered coho salmon spotted returning to spawning grounds after well-timed precipitation

The heavy rains that soaked California late last year were welcomed by farmers, urban planners – and endangered coho salmon.

“We’ve seen fish in places that they haven’t been for almost 25 years,” said Preston Brown, the director of watershed conservation for the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (Spawn).

California received more precipitation from October to December than in the previous 12 months, according to the National Weather Service.

The abundance of rain and snow arrived in time for the November-to-January spawning season in the resource-rich Tomales Bay watershed north of San Francisco, enabling some fish to reach tributaries to the Lagunitas Creek, at least 13 miles inland in Marin County.

Some fish have been spotted a mile upstream from where the San Geronimo Creek had been dammed until little more than a year ago, experts say.

Read more at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jan/19/coho-salmon-california-spawning-rain-drought

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Mark West Quarry faces hefty fine for polluting salmon habitat

Will Carruthers, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN

A Sonoma County mining company faces a $4.5 million fine for allegedly allowing over 10 million gallons of tainted water to flow into a creek, damaging the habitat of endangered salmon.

In a September press release, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board announced that, at a Dec. 2 meeting, the agency’s board would consider approving a $4.5 million fine against the BoDean Company, Inc. for numerous alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at the company’s Mark West Quarry several years ago. The North Coast water board is one of nine similar boards around the state charged with enforcing a variety of environmental laws.

Water Board staff first identified the problem in December 2018, when they noticed “sediment-laden stormwater” in Porter Creek downstream from the 120-acre quarry, which is used for hard-rock mining and materials processing. Over the next five months, Water Board officials visited the quarry 15 times total, documenting numerous similar incidents. All told, Water Board prosecutors estimate that 10.5 million gallons of tainted water flowed from the mountainside quarry into Porter Creek, which feeds into the Russian River.

Water Board photographs show that the investigators repeatedly discovered cloudy waters, known as “turbid” in Water Board lingo, emanating from the BoDean quarry. The creek serves as habitat for endangered California steelhead trout and Coho salmon, and the sediments flowing from the quarry could put those creatures at risk.

Read more at https://bohemian.com/bodean-water-fine/