The CalTrout team recently convened for the 35th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference in Davis. This year’s theme was “Restoring Watersheds and Rebuilding Salmon Runs”. For over thirty years, the Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) has hosted the state’s largest salmon restoration conference in different regions of California. The four-day annual conference highlights regional and topical issues that affect salmonids and their diverse habitats through field tours, technical workshops, panel discussions, and a plenary session on the state of salmonid recovery in California.
The day before the conference, Candice Meneghin, CalTrout’s Conservation Program Manager, attended Watershed Day at the state capitol, coordinated by the California Watershed Network. Advocating to add dam removal language in the SB 5 and AB 18 Park Bond measures, she met with Senators Henry Stern, Ben Allen, and Hannah Beth-Jackson’s offices.
Our Executive Director, Curtis Knight, along with Dr. Rob Lusardi from UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences moderated a session on reintroducing salmon to historical habitats. Climate change, aging water infrastructure, successive years of drought, and increasing demand for water resources has precipitated strong declines in salmonids throughout California. Dam removal, trap and haul above high head dams, reintroduction of captive bred animals, and improving lateral connectivity to historical floodplain habitat are proposed methods to improve salmonid life history diversity, abundance, population redundancy and, ultimately, resilience to change. Presenters in this workshop included Sandy Jacobsen, CalTrout’s Coalition Coordinator, from our San Diego office who presented on coalition-based efforts to restore the Southern California endangered steelhead population.
More of our staff held informative and engaging presentations, including:
Patrick Samuel, Conservation Program Coordinator, presented “State of the Salmonids – Fish in Hot Water”. Patrick also discussed the soon-to-be-released SOS report of the same title. Our original landmark report was released nearly a decade ago and discussed the state of California’s trout, salmon & steelhead populations. We’re excited to release an updated report and calls to action, expected this May. (Click here to read our 2008 report, SOS: California’s Native Fish Crisis, written by Dr. Peter Moyle, commissioned by CalTrout.)
Jacob Katz, Senior Scientist, was quite busy throughout the conference weekend. He held 3 presentations and led 2 sessions on Central Valley floodplains and visioning salmon recovery, and presented on the Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership with Chris Unkel from American Rivers.
Jacob also facilitated a floodplain workshop for restoration practitioners and agency scientists from around the state and led an all-day field trip of Sacramento Valley water infrastructure. The tour was led through the Yolo and Sutter bypass areas and Knaggs ranch floodplain project area. Attendees got to see some of the weirs and bypass system that relieves high flows from the Sacramento River to protect the city from flooding. Many of these systems were constructed over a century ago with little consideration for fish and fish migration. Data gathered from Jacob’s Knaggs ranch experiment, the Nigiri Project, demonstrates rice farms can be used to mimic floodplain habitat for juvenile salmon, which helps strengthen an argument for updating our infrastructure to meet the current needs of endangered salmon in ways that can also benefit farmers, birds and flood control.
California Trout would like to thank the Salmonid Restoration Federation for another fun and informative annual conference. For an overview of the conference’s other great speakers, presentations, and workshops, visit: www.calsalmon.org.