Can Fracking be Safe?

Hydraulic fracturing, fracking, of shales has been connected with hazards to drinking water and water for fish. Many of the stories have been anecdotal such as the flaming water from household taps in Pennsylvania.. Now Duke University has analysed water from a creek fed by fracking waste water. They have found alarming chemical and radium pollution in the stream. Non of these pollutants were removed by the local water treatment facility.

Fracking requires large quantities of water to fracture the shale layers. Much of this water is returned in extracting oil. In California this raises questions of water availability in Southern California and alarms for the disposition of waste water.

Read the complete article.

Paying it Forward

World class trout fisheries are laid like a string of pearls along the East Side of the Sierra Nevada, as if the Creator had the road-tripping fly fisherman in mind when he adorned the landscape. Crowley Lake. Hot Creek. The upper and lower Owens River. The East and West forks of the Walker and Carson rivers. Kirman and Heenan lakes. And tumbling out of the Sierra where the range begins to shape-shift into the Cascades, the magnificent Truckee River.

While the best angling sections of the East Walker and the Truckee are tailwater fisheries, and some of these waters are stocked, there are two primary reasons why all of these streams still have enough cold, clean water for trout.

One, their headwaters are in public lands, where relatively undisturbed meadows and soils act like a big sponge to absorb precipitation, filter it, and release it gradually into aquifers and surface flows.

Two, advocates for cold water fisheries, including Trout Unlimited and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, have worked hard over the years to protect and restore good habitat in streams like these, and to ensure adequate streamflows for trout through balanced water supply management. Read the full story.


Raise Shasta Dam: Good for Water Contractors, Not Fish

The United States Bureau of Reclamation has released for public review the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SLWRI DEIS). It's a long name for a simple but incredibly expensive and destructive idea – raising one of the tallest dams in California to expand what is already the largest reservoir in the state, supposedly to improve downstream river conditions for salmon and steelhead.

If the bizarre concept of a dam helping fish made your head spin, you're not the only one suffering from this oxymoron.

Hidden in this massive document is the real reason for the dam raise – every extra drop of water stored behind the raised dam will be sold to federal water contractors downstream, with 77% of the water sold for export south of the Delta. Which means the Shasta Dam raise is directly tied the proposal by water contractors and Governor Jerry Brown to build enormous twin tunnels under the Delta, which will divert large amounts of fresh water from the Sacramento River (much of it stored upstream behind Shasta Dam) for export to large corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Basin. Read the Full Story.

Wolf Management Compatible With Livestock.

In the two years since a lawsuit stopped the state of Oregon from killing wolves, the state's fledgling wolf population has doubled to nearly 50. Yet in Wallowa County, where the majority of Oregon's wolf-livestock conflicts are reported each year, fatal wolf attacks on livestock have fallen by 60 percent as ranchers and agencies were forced to rely on nonlethal conflict-prevention methods.

At the same time in neighboring Idaho, where over the last two years hunters, trappers and state agents have killed more than 700 wolves, the number of sheep and cattle killed by wolves increased by more than 75 percent.

Read the full story.

Redwood Creek Restoration by North Bay Chapter

Redwood Creek is a small but significant 4.7-mile creek that begins on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County and empties into the Pacific at Muir Beach about 17 miles northwest of San Francisco and the Bay Area – home to nearly 7.5 million people. Thousands of people visit Muir Beach each year. If they're alert, read the posted signs and look around, they'll learn about a multi-year, landscape-level coastal restoration project began in 2009 designed to bring back the ecological functions of Redwood Creek, freshwater wetlands, and intermittent tidal lagoon and dunes over a 46-acre site along the mouth of the creek. Read the full story.

Native Plant Propagation

This year Kyle Johnson, Lester Lubetkin and Matt Brown of the Forest Service applied for a grant through the California State Parks OHV grant program to fund the collection, propagation, storage and planting of native plants related to the restoration of areas affected by OHV use, particularly the Alder Creek Restoration Project. They were awarded over $14,000! Last fall, the California Native Plant Society helped collect seeds for this project. On November 28th, volunteers from Trout Unlimited and the California Native Plant Society, alongside Forest Service personnel from Botany, Recreation and the Placerville Nursery braved heavy rain and strong winds to plant almost 15,000 of the native plant seeds collected. The seeds will grow over the winter and this fall the new plants will be used in the restoration of dispersed camping areas and unauthorized routes along segments of Alder Creek. It was a very rewarding day and would not have been as successful without the help of Janet Cicero, who volunteered two days to organize the nursery and all of the plant tubes for us. Biological Technicians from botany Nick Jarvis and Rick Evans also were a big help. Matt Brown was a tremendous help by organizing the volunteer groups both for last fall's seed collecting and the seed plantings. He will also organize the volunteer effort for the restoration this fall. The volunteers had a great time as well and will help this fall with the plantings. This winter, spring and summer we will all be watching, as proud parents do, to see how our baby plants grow and become big plants in their new home where they belong-the Eldorado National Forest! See the Photo Gallery for Pictures of the work.

Bear Creek/San Francisquto Creeks Opened to Steelhead

NOAA Fisheries, the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the Fishery Foundation of California recently completed removal of a 7-foot dam, re-opening more than six miles of spawning habitat for federally protected steelhead. In the San Francisco Bay Area, fish barriers have been identified as a limiting factor for the steelhead population. The removal of this dam on Bear Creek, a tributary to San Francisquito Creek, will allow steelhead to access historic habitat for spawning and rearing for the first time in decades, and improve ecological connectivity for other fish and wildlife resources.
"With few streams left in the Bay Area that support self-sustaining steelhead populations, protecting and enhancing these watersheds is vital for the continued existence of these fish," said DFG Environmental Scientist Kristine Atkinson. Read the complete story.

Shocking at Sailors Ravine

Five El Dordo Chapter members joined with an El Dorado National Forest crew to survey culverts on Sailor Ravine Creek in the Georgetown Area. The survey was accomplished by electro-shocking regions above and below two culverts passing under a roadway. The culverts were identified as a potential barrier to fish passage. The Forest Aquatic Biologist directed the operation while our volunteers shocked the stream. Others netted found fish, placed them in live cars and later measured and recorded the findings. Twenty three Brown trout, 7 to 8 inches in size, were captured. Eighty percent of the fish were found below the culverts.

The culverts allow water to pass but block fish passage during heavy flow. The culverts are also susceptible to blockage during heavy flows. The Forest is planning to replace the culverts, possibly with a bridge. Monitoring data from the stream after replacement will demonstrate the effectivenes of the change.

Price of Aspen Restoration

The Forest Service has embarked on a program of Aspen restoration as a part of their newly adopted goals of Forest Restoration. The report a high percentage of aspens are being lost due to the growth of pine and fir forests. These forests were previously thinned periodically by fire. With a century of fire control  we now see growth of the forests and loss of aspens. Aspen restoration requires the removal of pine and fir forest. Some of these forests contain very large old growth trees. Thus we see discussion of the need for this process ar choice of an alternate that preserves the older trees. See the detailed discussion of this controversy in the following web site:

Dam Removal on the Carmel RIver

On Thursday, June 21, at a meeting in San Francisco, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC)voted 4-1 in approval of a plan that will lead to the removal of the antiquated San Clamente dam on the Carmel River, identified by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as the most critical stream on the Central Coast of California for restoring South-Central Coastal steelhead. In addition to opening up and improving some 25 miles of high quality spawning habitat for the Carmel River steelhead, removal of the San Clemente Dam will also be an historic precedent, as it will be the largest dam ever taken down in California.

Read more: Dam Removal on the Carmel RIver