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.
Meg McConahey, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The stunning steelhead trout are returning to the Warm Springs Dam Hatchery and the public is invited to come on down for the homecoming.
The 7th Annual Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival on Feb. 7 is a chance to see these native beauties up close in a celebratory atmosphere that includes special activities, hatchery tours, live music and food and drink.
And except for the refreshments, which this year includes wines from Dry Creek wineries, everything is free.
The highlight of the event is watching the spawning fish, some of which grow to a robust two feet in length, as they make their way up a ladder of pools from Dry Creek to the hatchery, an elevation of 37 feet.
“The focus is to educate people about wildlife conservation, environmental protection and propagation of a threatened species,” said Harry Bosworth, the president of the Friends of Lake Sonoma, which hosts the event along with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Sonoma County Water Agency.
Read more via Watch the return of the steelhead at Lake | The Press Democrat.
Eloísa Ruano González, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Steelhead trout once returned in strong numbers to Sonoma Valley from the ocean and San Pablo Bay, swimming up Sonoma Creek to the sheltered waters of Stuart Creek, an ideal stream for spawning and rearing with its rocky bed and abundance of aquatic vegetation and insects.
For decades though, it’s been rare to spot steelhead upstream in the creek near Glen Ellen. Man-made barriers and steep drop-offs formed by erosion have blocked their access, further imperiling a fish that has disappeared from much of its former range on the North Coast.
However, work is underway to restore a section of Stuart Creek in hopes of bringing back its once sizable steelhead run.
via Creek work in Sonoma Valley to remove barriers | The Press Democrat.
Sonoma Land Trust newsletter
After three years of planning and fundraising, the concrete fish barrier (see above right) on Stuart Creek at Stuart Creek Run in Glen Ellen has been demolished! And the two additional barriers that we discovered after purchasing the property in 2011 will soon follow the same fate so that we can restore the creek’s historic steelhead run.
Before restoration (photo Sonoma Land Trust).
Removing all three barriers is essential to improving juvenile and adult steelhead passage, according to stewardship project manager Tony Nelson, to give the fish access to more than two miles of high-quality spawning and rearing habitat. Next week, our contractor will begin constructing a series of five 40-foot-long chutes and 20-foot-long pools at this site to provide fish with easier passage and places to rest. Look forward to reading more about this exciting project in our fall newsletter.
via Sonoma Land Trust Today…to protect the land forever.
Report, SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE
Sonoma Land Trust has been awarded a $691,644 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP).
The purpose of this funding, together with a planning grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy in 2013, is to enable the removal of three barriers to the passage of steelhead on Stuart Creek as it flows through Glen Ellen to allow the fish access to critical spawning and nursery grounds.
In 2011, Sonoma Land Trust purchased three-and-a-half acres near the intersection of Highway 12 and Arnold Drive that includes a one-third-mile stretch of Stuart Creek. Stuart Creek is a major tributary of Sonoma Creek, which once supported the second largest steelhead trout run among Bay Area streams. However, most of the fish habitat in the Stuart Creek watershed has been largely inaccessible to threatened steelhead trout for decades because of the barriers.
Removing them and reestablishing the creek’s historic fish run has been identified by the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration as one of the highest priorities for recovering steelhead in the Bay Area – and is the goal toward which Sonoma Land Trust has been working since acquiring the property it subsequently named “Stuart Creek Run.”
via Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma News, Entertainment, Sports, Real Estate, Events, Photos, Sonoma, CA.
Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The California Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to shut down the Russian River to fishing in hopes of creating more favorable conditions for at-risk salmon and wild steelhead struggling months behind schedule to get upstream to spawn.
The move follows a recommendation made public last week by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which won widespread support from the angling community and environmentalists for the move.
It affects the main stem of the river from Jenner to the confluence with the river’s east fork, north of Ukiah. The closure will remain in place through April 30, the tail end of the main spawning season.
via California bans fishing on Russian River amid drought | The Press Democrat.
Vesta Copestakes, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE
I find this subject fascinating. I fervently believe that all life systems are connected and that we are responsible for taking care of the home in which we live. Here in Sonoma County water is on the top of our list of environmental topics because we (usually) get rain 50% of the year and sun the other 50%. That has an impact on how we use, preserve and protect our water resources.
As Anne Maurice stated in her public comment at the update hearing January 17th, we don’t live as if water is scarce 50% of the year. We grow crops when there is no rain to feed them. We plant lawns because we came from places where lawns made sense. We WASTE water on a daily basis.
So what does the Biological Opinion have to do with all of this?
It’s about water and the fish that live in it because they are our “Canary in the Coal Mine” for us. As they thrive or die, so do we.
via Sonoma County Biological Opinion Annual UPDATE.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the Russian River Biological Opinion at www.sonomacountywater.org/rrifr.
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.
Keri Brenner, PETALUMA PATCH.COM
After more than 10 years of researching a “biological opinion” about the best way and best spot to save the last remaining coho salmon and steelhead trout in the Russian River watershed, engineers and officials on Wednesday broke ground on a pilot project along Dry Creek north of Healdsburg that they hope will do the job.
“This is the strongest and the last stronghold for this population [of fish],” said Mike Dillabough, chief of operations and readiness at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “By recreating the habitat for the fish, they’ll be able to restore the population naturally.”
via Feds, State, Sonoma County Break Ground on $1.8M Dry Creek Rescue Plan for Last Remaining Coho Salmon – Petaluma, CA Patch.