Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Drought threatens coho salmon

Drought threatens coho salmon

Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Coho salmon are trapped in the Russian River and urgently need a boost from Mother Nature.

Cut off by lack of rain from most of the small streams where they habitually spawn, the endangered coho face a ticking biological clock that could decimate this year’s reproduction.

“We know their time is running out,” said Nick Bauer, a biologist with UC Cooperative Extension’s coho monitoring program.

via Drought threatens coho salmon | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Sediment Release in Tributary of Salmon Creek Results in $38,000 in Costs and Penalties to Vineyard Developer

Sediment Release in Tributary of Salmon Creek Results in $38,000 in Costs and Penalties to Vineyard Developer

District Attorney Press Release, COUNTY OF SONOMA

District Attorney Jill Ravitch announced today that defendant Stephen Kistler has resolved a civil case with the District Attorney’s Office for a violation of Fish and Game Code section 5650.1, prohibiting the release of potentially harmful materials into waterways.

District Attorney Ravitch stated: "Land owners involved with construction must take care to avoid placing sediment in our creeks, which is known to harm fish and other riparian life."

On April 10, 2013, an employee of Mr. Kistler was running a pump to empty a reservoir for construction of an irrigation pond that was to occur on that site. The sediment-laden water leaving the irrigation pond turned the usually pristine Salmon Creek dark. Neighbors also noticed the change in the color of unnamed tributaries of Salmon Creek. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies, responded to the scene to investigate the cause of the pollution. The property, located at 147011 Bodega Highway in Bodega, was discovered to be the source of sediment which was pumped from a reservoir into the unnamed tributary of Salmon Creek causing the creek to look "milky." Kistler cooperated with the investigation.

The civil case was resolved by an agreement between the District Attorney’s Office and defendant Kistler. The agreement, filed with the court today, permanently enjoins Kistler from placing any material that may be harmful to fish and other riparian life into the waters of the state. Additionally, Kistler agreed to prepare a reservoir management plan, pay a civil penalty of $25,000 pursuant to Fish and Game Code section 5650.1, pay $5,000 in restitution that will go into an account to benefit riparian habitat in Sonoma County, and pay an additional $8,653.96 representing the investigation costs incurred by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Salmon Creek (and its unnamed tributaries) is home to Coho Salmon, as well as other sensitive riparian species. Sediment harms the growth and impairs survival of juvenile Coho and other Salmonids.

The civil case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White, assisted by District Attorney Investigator Lisa Chapman. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agent Nick Call, and Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Tiffany Stinson, and Demitri Esquivel headed the investigation.

via Sediment Release in Tributary of Salmon Creek Results in $38,000 in Costs and Penalties to Vineyard Developer | County of Sonoma.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , Leave a comment on Public Meeting on 15-Year Russian River Plan

Public Meeting on 15-Year Russian River Plan

SONOMA COUNTY WATER AGENCY
A 15-year blueprint to help restore endangered and threatened fish to the Russian River watershed, while maintaining the region’s primary water supply, is the subject of an upcoming meeting. On Friday, January 17th the Public Policy Facilitating Committee (PPFC) will meet for an annual update on the Russian River Biological Opinion (meeting details below).
The Biological Opinion was released by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in September 2008. This 15-year plan requires the Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to modify Russian River water supply and flood control operations to prevent harm to endangered coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout. The PPFC – comprised of elected and appointed officials from public agencies throughout the region – meets annually to review progress.
“The Water Agency and its partners have made a lot of progress. Studies have revealed new information about how fish live in the Russian River estuary, the first mile of the six-mile Dry Creek Habitat Enhancement Project is well underway and in November, we released young coho into newly created habitat,” said PPFC Chairman Efren Carrillo, a Water Agency Director and a member of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. “It’s exciting to see the pieces coming together and this meeting is a chance to highlight the successes as well as understand the challenges moving forward.”
The Biological Opinion requirements include reducing minimum summertime flows in the Russian River and Dry Creek; changing the way the sandbar is breached at the estuary between May 15 and October 15; enhancing habitat in Dry Creek; and fish monitoring. Topics to be covered on January 17 include a review of a study on invertebrates that live in the estuary (a primary source of food for steelhead before they enter the ocean), the results of extensive fish surveys and the construction of large habitat enhancement projects in Dry Creek. The public will have an opportunity to comment.
Meeting Details
DATE: Friday, January 17
TIME: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Santa Rosa
For additional information, please contact Pam Kuhn, (707) 547-1930 or pamela.kuhn@scwa.ca.gov. Learn more about the Russian River Biological Opinion at www.sonomacountywater.org/rrifr.

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Close to Home: Farallon Islands ecosystem at risk

Close to Home: Farallon Islands ecosystem at risk

Richard Charter, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Looking westward from the Golden Gate out at the Farallon Islands, we’re often reminded that we are privileged here to proudly protect our lush ocean waters within one of America’s flagship national marine sanctuaries.

Amid this natural beauty, however, a new threat is emerging in which a multitude of wildlife species on these islands suddenly face an unforeseen jeopardy — the proposed aerial broadcast of 40 helicopter loads of what’s known as a “supertoxic” poison, in the form of the already-controversial rodenticide called brodifacoum. The broad ecosystem dangers posed by this new generation of persistent rodenticides to “non-target” species throughout the food chain are well known to scientists and veterinary caregivers, causing these chemicals to come under increasing regulatory scrutiny by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

via Close to Home: Farallon Islands ecosystem at risk | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Chinook salmon return to Marin, coho shouldn't be too far behind

Chinook salmon return to Marin, coho shouldn't be too far behind

Mark Prado, MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL

For the first time in five years, chinook salmon are being seen in the Lagunitas watershed — a hopeful sign that federally endangered coho salmon will have a strong run this winter.

Chinook salmon — also known as king salmon — are not always spotted in Marin’s creeks, but when they do appear they generally are accompanied by a strong run of coho.

"What we have seen is that when resident coho populations do well, we see other species doing well," said Eric Ettlinger, aquatic ecologist for the Marin Municipal Water District.

The chinook salmon are native to the Central Valley, but seem to have lost their way and ended up in Lagunitas Creek, Ettlinger said. It’s possible that they were spawned in a hatchery and they don’t know where home can be found. The chinook and coho salmon generally return to the streams in which they were born after returning from the ocean.

via Chinook salmon return to Marin, coho shouldn't be too far behind – Marin Independent Journal.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , Leave a comment on Editorial: Big obstacle for Delta tunnel project — who will pay for it?

Editorial: Big obstacle for Delta tunnel project — who will pay for it?

THE SACRAMENTO BEE

When it comes to water policy, Gov. Jerry Brown’s motto seems to be “tunnels or bust.” Increasingly, as costs and questions pile up, “bust” looks like a possible outcome.

Sometime next month, water contractors and the Brown administration are expected to release a draft environmental impact report for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. This hefty tome will likely be heralded as an important milestone in pushing forward BDCP’s plans to restore Delta habitat and build a pair of tunnels under the estuary to ship Sacramento River water to the south.

But what’s missing from the plan will be as important as what it contains.

via Editorial: Big obstacle for Delta tunnel project — who will pay for it? – Editorials – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Viewpoints: Why I’m still confused about the proposed tunnels in the Delta

Viewpoints: Why I’m still confused about the proposed tunnels in the Delta

Peter Gleick, THE SACRAMENTO BEE

I and my colleagues at the Pacific Institute have worked on California water issues for more than a quarter of a century. It is therefore no surprise that we get asked on a regular basis by friends, journalists and colleagues what we think about the efforts underway to resolve the problems of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and in particular, about the proposed massive tunnel project to divert water from the Sacramento River to the conveyance aqueducts south of the Delta.

The purpose of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposals, ostensibly, is to resolve the joint problems of 1. ensuring reliable water supplies south of the Delta, and 2. restoring the damaged ecosystems and fisheries damaged by the current design and operation of water infrastructure. These are supposed to be “co-equal” goals. Will the new proposals achieve this? I don’t know what to think, because I cannot get the critical information necessary to make an informed judgment. Here are some questions that should have been answered long ago:

via Viewpoints: Why I’m still confused about the proposed tunnels in the Delta – Viewpoints – The Sacramento Bee.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on For Northern California rivers, luck is not a plan

For Northern California rivers, luck is not a plan

Jared Huffman, SFGATE

In "Dirty Harry," Clint Eastwood memorably asked, do you "feel lucky?" It made for great theater, but it’s no way to manage North Coast salmon. Unfortunately, that’s been the policy of the U.S. Department of Interior toward the near-record run of chinook salmon that is migrating up the Trinity and Klamath rivers. Instead of a comprehensive strategy to fulfill its duty to protect this iconic fishery, the department is rolling the dice. So far, the salmon have been lucky.

A decade ago, they were not so lucky. In 2002, the same conditions we are experiencing this year – large salmon returns, a dry year, and over-allocated Klamath River water unable to satisfy all competing needs – produced a massive fish kill. Insufficient river flows brought death to thousands of salmon and economic disaster for tribes, fishermen, and communities up and down the West Coast.

via For Northern California rivers, luck is not a plan – SFGate.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Discovery of young coho salmon in Russian River tributary heralded

Discovery of young coho salmon in Russian River tributary heralded

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The recent discovery of hundreds of young coho salmon in a tributary of the Russian River near Jenner is being hailed by biologists as a breakthrough in the decade-long effort to restore the critical habitat and nurse the endangered fish back to health.

Approximately 450 coho were counted in the upper reaches of Willow Creek this summer, an astounding number given that virtually none of the fish have been seen in the waterway for the better part of two decades.

Run-off from logging and farming, coupled with the end of dredging efforts that were aimed at preventing road flooding, had turned the nearly-nine mile waterway flowing from Coleman Valley to the Jenner estuary into a meandering mess.

via Discovery of young coho salmon in Russian River tributary heralded | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Forests, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Marijuana Crops in California Threaten Forests and Wildlife

Marijuana Crops in California Threaten Forests and Wildlife

Felicity Barringer, THE NEW YORK TIMES

ARCATA, Calif. — It took the death of a small, rare member of the weasel family to focus the attention of Northern California’s marijuana growers on the impact that their huge and expanding activities were having on the environment.

The animal, a Pacific fisher, had been poisoned by an anticoagulant in rat poisons like d-Con. Since then, six other poisoned fishers have been found. Two endangered spotted owls tested positive. Mourad W. Gabriel, a scientist at the University of California, Davis, concluded that the contamination began when marijuana growers in deep forests spread d-Con to protect their plants from wood rats.

via Marijuana Crops in California Threaten Forests and Wildlife – NYTimes.com.