Shasta Dam Fish Passage Evaluation

The Shasta Dam Fish Passage Evaluation (SDFPE) is an effort to evaluate the feasibility of reintroducing Chinook salmon and steelhead to tributaries above Shasta Lake. A Fish Passage Pilot Implementation Plan is being developed with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Water Resources, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California State Water Board, and the University of California..

The SDFPE is part of Reclamation's response to the June 4, 2009, Biological Opinion (BO) and Conference Opinion on the Long-Term Operation of the Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) by NMFS. Read the full story and find links. A fact sheet of the shasta project is available here

A more extensive report of the total actions on west slope rivers is available here

Support Responsible Forest Service Road Management

There are over 380,000 miles of roads on National Forest Service lands in the US. If you place them end to end they would circle the earth fifteen times! Some of those roads are important, as they allow hunters, fishermen, and families to access public forests, rivers, and campgrounds.

But many roads lead to nowhere. They are relics of past logging or unstable routes created illegally by off-road vehicle users. This system of roads is in desperate need of maintenance to prevent erosion that muddies streams and kills fish. The taxpayer is now on the hook for $10 billion dollars in deferred road maintenance.

The Forest Service is beginning to take modest steps to fix or remove a fraction of these failing roads and define appropriate places for off-road vehicle use. Unfortunately, extreme anti-environmental groups are strongly vocalizing their opposition to these efforts. It is vital that those who support salmon, rare plants, and our shared natural heritage make a difference by speaking up for responsible road management.

Mokelumne and Coastal River Protection

State legislation to protect 37 miles of the Mokelumne River in the California Wild & Scenic Rivers System cleared another hurdle on June 23 when the Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed the bill on a partisan 6-2 vote (with Democrats voting for the bill).

Read the full story and other related River stories in the Friends of the River June 25 Newsletter.

EPA Provides Salmon Protection From Pesticides

AP Story:

A federal agency has agreed to restore temporary buffer zones for spraying several common agricultural pesticides along salmon streams in Oregon, California and Washington while it continues work on a permanent rule.

The settlement agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides was published Friday in the Federal Register.

It stems from an injunction imposing the buffers that was issued by a federal judge in Seattle in 2004, but that had expired before EPA implemented permanent regulations. The buffers apply to all salmon streams in the three states.

The buffers prohibit farmers from spraying on the ground within 60 feet of a salmon stream and aerial spraying within 300 feet. The buffers will not be included on pesticide labels until permanent restrictions are adopted by EPA.

Federal biologists have found that the five broad-spectrum insecticides — carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, malathion and methomyl — will harm salmon even at very low levels. The chemicals can kill vegetation in the water that fish use to hide and kill insects. The chemicals can also kill other food items for fish and interfere with a fish's sense of smell, which it uses to avoid predators and navigate on migrations to the ocean and back again.

Wolves Can Change the River

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." - John Muir

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this video. See the Video.

Water Solutions or Magical Thinking

RonStorkBy Ron Stork, Sr. Policy Advocate, Friends of the River


The House of Representatives seems to live in a world disconnected from the real world but, in doing so, seeks to remake it. Subcommittee on Water & Power Chair Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) continues to speak and write about his vision of an era of abundance where great new brimful reservoirs provide plentiful and cheap water and electricity for our farms and families.

In his world, the annoying voices of economists that speak of the realities of the law of diminishing returns from damming---and re-damming---the same rivers are not heard. In the Congressman's world, the life within rivers can be re-created by industrial reproduction and rearing in hatcheries, and the beauty of natural waterscapes can be replaced by the military discipline of concrete dams and still reservoirs and be banished to aging photographs.

Read more: Water Solutions or Magical Thinking

Time to Re-Think Central Valley Hatchery Management

The Central Valley is the only place on Earth with four distinct runs of Chinook salmon (fall, late-fall, winter, and spring). Each run was adapted for different conditions and had multiple independent populations that spawned in different valley tributaries. The damming of virtually every Sacramento and San Joaquin tributary resulted in catastrophic losses of spawning habitat...100% of winter run, 90% of spring run, and 60% of fall run (the only run that relies primarily on the valley floor) spawning habitat is above dams. The pre-dam, Central Valley "diversified portfolio" of runs reached upwards of 2 million spawning fish per year.

California Trout suggests that we can better manage salmon to have both more fish caught in our commercial and sport fisheries and to recover self-sustaining wild populations in the Central Valley. Changes in hatchery management can improve results in the field. Ideas to consider include geographically isolating wild fish from hatchery fish by relocating hatcheries downstream, closer to estuaries. This will improve smolt survival, resulting in increased catch of hatchery fish in ocean fisheries while simultaneously reducing interbreeding between wild and hatchery fish in rivers. Some success with this approach has been seen in other states. Protect wild fish genetic stock by requiring hatcheries to use broodstock with life history characteristics like migratory timing that would minimize dilution of wild California gene pools. Read the full article

EPA Defines Risk to Bristol Bay

(Seattle - Jan. 15, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today released its final Bristol Bay Assessment describing potential impacts to salmon and ecological resources from proposed large-scale copper and gold mining in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The report, titled "An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska," concludes that large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed poses risks to salmon and Alaska Native cultures. Bristol Bay supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world, producing nearly 50 percent of the world's wild sockeye salmon with runs averaging 37.5 million fish each year. Read the full story.

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.