Posted on Categories WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Thousands celebrate steelhead at Lake Sonoma festival: Spawning season runs from December to April

Thousands celebrate steelhead at Lake Sonoma festival: Spawning season runs from December to April

Bill Swindell, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
More than 5,000 people turned out Saturday for the Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival, where many attendees got an up-close look at the mating habits of the threatened trout during its spawning season.
The annual event, put on by the Friends of Lake Sonoma, gives the public a chance to learn more about the fish and the efforts of various government agencies to bulk up its population at the Don Clausen Fish Hatchery at Warm Springs Dam. The nonprofit group has played a vital role since federal budget cuts affected operations at the visitor center, which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Friends of Lake Sonoma assumed staffing for the tours last year.
Typically, most visitors to the hatchery are elementary school students, with about 4,000 children visiting the facility on annual basis.
The event, complete with food trucks, a wine tent and a karaoke singer, helps educate a broader swath of the public, said Jane Young, executive director for the group.
via Thousands celebrate steelhead at Lake Sonoma | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Climate Change & Energy, Land UseTags , , Leave a comment on Dry Creek tribe plans 5 MW solar power project near Lake Sonoma

Dry Creek tribe plans 5 MW solar power project near Lake Sonoma

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A huge solar array could be in place by next spring in the hills overlooking Lake Sonoma under a cooperative venture announced Monday between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians.
The solar panels would generate electricity for the fish hatchery, visitors center and other buildings at the base of Warm Springs Dam northwest of Healdsburg, as well as the tribe’s River Rock Casino and its other facilities near Geyserville, according to details released by the tribe and the Army Corps.

Tribal Chairman Harvey Hopkins called it “great for the tribe, great for Sonoma County and great for the environment.”

The initial 5-megawatt system would be the largest single solar installation in Sonoma County, eclipsing a 3-megawatt facility near Cloverdale.

Army Corps Lt. Col. John Morrow said the solar development is consistent with President Barack Obama’s order for federal agencies to reduce their carbon footprint, along with the corps’ goal of having 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Read more via Dry Creek tribe plans large solar power project | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , , , , Leave a comment on First phase of Dry Creek habitat makeover nears completion

First phase of Dry Creek habitat makeover nears completion

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Construction crews that have spent more than two years reconfiguring a mile-long stretch of Dry Creek outside Healdsburg are about to mark completion of the critical first leg of what, by 2020, is to be a six-mile project designed to create new habitat for threatened and endangered fish.
So far, workers have strategically placed thousands of tons of locally sourced rock and more than a thousand giant root balls and saw logs in the creek, and they’ve removed some 30,000 cubic yards of soil and gravel to create restful backwaters, some of which already are being used by fish species whose very survival is at risk, officials said.
The overall goal is to offer supportive habitat for coho and chinook salmon, as well as steelhead trout, that includes areas of slow-water refuge, plenty of places to hide from predators, adequate food supply and cool, shallow current — partly offsetting the loss of 130 square-miles of upstream habitat cut off by the construction of Warm Springs Dam to create Lake Sonoma in 1983.
The reservoir has offered the project one advantage: From the dam at its southern end comes a reliable supply of cold, clear water that’s so rare in the Russian River watershed these days, said Eric Larson, environmental program manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“Basically, it comes down to the recognition that due to the characteristics of Dry Creek following the construction of the Warm Springs Dam, Dry Creek offers a huge opportunity to create salmonid habitat in the Russian River watershed where it once did not exist,” at least not year-round, Larson said.
Read more via First phase of Dry Creek makeover nears completion | The Press Democrat.