CDFW Plans for Kern River Rainbow Trout Relief

In this time of dire drought that is threatening California’s already imperiled native trout, action needs to be taken to do what is necessary to sustain these iconic fish.

Genetically pure strains of native trout, including Kern River rainbow trout, are more resilient to a changing environment and particularly to “shocks” to their environment, such as those resulting from current drought conditions.

A project proposed by the California Deptartment of Fish & Wildlife to breed pure genetic strains of Kern River rainbow trout should provide a necessary step in helping to ensure healthy populations are sustained well into the future. As such, CalTrout supports the proposed plan and would encourage others to do so as well.

You can read about the planned project here.

CalTrout Receives $922k Grant for Sierra Meadow Carbon Sequestration Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 5, 2015

CONTACT
Severn Williams, sev@publicgoodpr.com
O: 510-336-9566
C: 415-336-9623

$922k GRANT GIVEN TO CALIFORNIA TROUT TO LAUNCH SIERRA MEADOW CARBON SEQUESTRATION PROJECT

Funded through California’s cap-and-traded program, project will establish protocol measuring greenhouse gas reductions associated with restoring meadows in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Mammoth Lakes, Calif. – How does a robust Sierra meadows ecosystem help fight climate change? That is a question that non-profit group California Trout is preparing to answer. The organization received a grant for $922,000 from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as part of a package of $21 million in funding aimed at reducing greenhouse gases statewide. The funding comes from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which is supported by the state’s cap-and-trade auction proceeds.

San Francisco-based California Trout will leverage the grant to develop a protocol for measuring carbon sequestration associated with restoring meadows in the Eastern Sierra. In addition to sequestering carbon, meadows play an important role in supporting healthy watershed systems throughout the Sierra Nevada that are so critical to California’s water supply. Sierra watersheds also provide essential habitat critical to the recovery and survival of native fish and other wildlife in the state.

“For more than forty years, California Trout has been working to protect and recover our state’s native trout, steelhead and salmon,” said executive director Curtis Knight. “With this project, our organization is taking its first step into the larger arena of addressing climate change, the most complex ecological problem of our time.”

The recent grant from CDFW will allow California Trout, with core partners Plumas Corporation and Stillwater Sciences, to lead a new multi-organizational effort to create a standard quantification protocol for measuring greenhouse gas dynamics in Sierra Nevada meadows. This effort evolved out of ongoing conversations among a broad coalition of groups, academic institutions and agencies working to support conservation in the Sierra. These groups include Sierra Foothill Conservancy; American Rivers; Sierra Streams Institute; Spatial Informatics Group – Natural Assets Laboratory; South Yuba River Citizens League; Truckee River Watershed Council; University of Nevada, Reno; University of California, Merced; University of California, Davis; California State University, Chico; Tahoe National Forest; and, Sequoia National Forest.

As a result of this project and the support of the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, the Sierra Meadow Restoration Research Partnership will be established and will develop a tool to measure and credit carbon sequestration associated with restoring meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The partnership will coordinate with groups working throughout the Sierra with the goal of increasing ecological resilience and recovering species and habitat associated with alpine meadow systems – all while capturing climate-disrupting emissions on a meaningful scale.

“The interconnection between healthy ecosystems and addressing the threat of climate change is becoming more and more clear,” noted Dr. Mark Drew, Director of the Sierra Headwaters Program with California Trout. “It’s exciting for us and we feel fortunate to be in a position to take a leadership role in this effort, working with key partners to improve watershed health in Sierra Nevada that is so critical to California’s water supply.”

The partnership’s work will, in part, respond to the needs identified in the California State Water Action Plan to restore Sierra Nevada meadow systems. It will work to restore multiple meadow systems across the Sierra, including Osa Meadow, a 90 acre meadow system supporting Kern River rainbow trout, Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and local communities downstream.

California Trout is a non-profit conservation organization that strives to solve complex resource issues while balancing the needs of wild fish and people through science-based advocacy. Some of its landmark achievements include legal victories that helped to restore the streams that feed the iconic Mono Lake and cutting-edge research aimed at recreating wetland habitat on off-season Central Valley farmland to support imperiled native salmon. With headquarters in San Francisco, the organization has six regional offices, including one in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

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CalTrout Combating Climate Change

Kirkwood Meadow 2For more than forty years, California Trout has been working to protect and recover the state’s native trout, steelhead and salmon.  With a new project, just funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), CalTrout is taking its first step into the larger arena of addressing climate change, the most complex ecological problem of our time.

As the lead organization in the Sierra Meadow Restoration Research Partnership (SMRRP), comprised of eight NGO’s, four academic institutions, a number of forests and resource agencies, consulting scientists and volunteers, CalTrout and the SMRRP will work to develop enhanced meadow restoration practices resulting in increases in net carbon within meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada.

CDFW selected the SMRRP’s project as one of 12 that will receive grant funding to conduct cutting-edge research, restore wetlands that sequester greenhouse gases (GHGs), and provide other ecological benefits as part of the Wetlands Restoration for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Program.

As a result of this project, CalTrout and the SMRRP expect:

  • A standardized quantification protocol for carbon, methane and nitrous oxide data collection and an advanced understanding of GHG dynamics in Sierra Nevada meadows;
  • A predictive tool to measure and credit carbon gains from restoration and, subsequently, a self – sustaining revenue stream for meadow restoration;
  • Strong regional partnerships and established local capacity to undertake this work;
  • A demonstrated restoration strategy that increases ecological resilience, sequesters GHG, and recovers species and habitat associated with alpine meadow systems; and,
  • On the ground restoration of multiple meadow systems across the Sierra – including Osa Meadow, a 90 acre meadow system supporting Kern River rainbow trout, Mountain Yellow Legged Frog and local communities downstream.

Click here for the CDFW press release announcing the awards.  For CalTrout’s press release, click here. Also be sure to look for more on this story in our next issue of The Current, issued this June.

 

Job Announcement: Environmental Restoration for Walker Basin Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

California Trout and California Department of Fish & Wildlife are looking for candidates interested in conducting restoration work in the Eastern Sierra for federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT).

job1Duties:

The person(s) selected will work as part of a crew on ecological restoration projects under the direction of CDFW staff. Restoration for Lahontan cutthroat trout will utilize a combination of backpack electroshocking to remove non-native brook trout and placement of temporary barriers to secure recovery waters. Other duties will include: pruning riparian vegetation to facilitate crew access to the stream; maintenance of gear; hauling materials and building a modified weir barrier; and data management. Although outdoors, surrounded by amazing vistas and working with an amazingly beautiful native trout, the work can be tiring and repetitious.

[Read more…]

CalTrout Raises Awareness of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Check out the new interpretative panels about Lahontan cutthroat trout in the Walker Basin. CalTrout’s Eastern Sierra office just put the finishing touches on the project last week with support from the Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Next time you’re fishing the East Walker River be sure to have a look!

lctpanel LCT Kiosk 1

Mono Lake at 20 Symposium – Registration Open

Mono Lake at 20: Past, Present, and Future
November 17, 2014 in Sacramento, California  2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the State Water Resources Control Board’s landmark Decision 1631 to amend the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power’s water rights in order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams.CalTrout has joined the Mono Lake Committee and UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Institute for Water Law and Policy and stakeholders in the Mono Lake cases to convene a symposium to discuss where things stand after 20 years, including: What are the results of implementation of D1631? What does the future hold, especially with the recent Stream Restoration Agreement in hand? What does the decision mean for other California water rights as the State Water Board seeks to determine how best to protect public trust uses of the Delta and Central Valley rivers consistent with maintaining reliable water supplies?

Mono Lake at 20 is bringing together distinguished panelists to distill lessons learned from 20 years of concerted effort to implement the Mono Lake decisions and related efforts elsewhere.

Registration is now open, and space is limited.

This symposium will be a unique opportunity to be a part of the discussions and solutions Mono Lake has to offer for the future. Register now and be part of the solution.

Mammoth Lakes Basin Water Quality Findings Presented at SNARL

CalTrout completed a two-year study centered on water quality in the Mammoth Lakes Basin and presented its findings during the 2014 SNARL Lecture Series.  

The study focused on identifying impairments to water quality in the Mammoth Lakes Basin with an emphasis on nutrients and metals. Working with project partners, CalTrout confirmed that nutrients are not impairing water quality. However, the study did confirm the presence of mercury in both Mammoth Creek as well as soils adjacent to the historic Mill City Stamp Mill.

Read more about the study in the Mammoth Times article.

CalTrout Completes Mammoth Lakes Basin Water Quality Study

In 2012, with funding from the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, CalTrout initiated a study in the Mammoth Lakes Basin to determine presence and extent of both nutrients and metals. After two years of research, the study found nutrients are not impacting water quality. However, the study did determine the levels of total mercury, in certain areas such as Stamp Mill, exceeded regulatory thresholds.

“Based on the data gathered thus far, I think it is prudent to conduct a more in-depth study to more accurately determine the potential scope and extent of the mercury in the Lakes Basin and particularly the Stamp Mill area,” said CalTrout Eastern Sierra Regional Manager Dr. Mark Drew.

The next step is to determine whether mercury is impacting resident fish populations and if so, determine what mitigation measures are necessary.  CalTrout may be the next Erin Brokovich, for fish anyway.

For more on the study’s findings ready The Sheet’s story here.

Job Announcement: Environmental Restoration for Walker Basin Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

California Trout and California Department of Fish & Wildlife are looking for candidates interested in conducting restoration work in the Eastern Sierra for federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT).

Duties:

The person(s) selected will work as part of a crew on ecological restoration projects under the direction of CDFW staff. Restoration for Lahontan cutthroat trout will utilize a combination of backpack electroshocking to remove non-native brook trout and placement of temporary barriers to secure recovery waters. Other duties will include: pruning riparian vegetation to facilitate crew access to the stream; maintenance of gear; hauling materials and building a modified weir barrier; and data management. Although outdoors, surrounded by amazing vistas and working with an amazingly beautiful native trout, the work can be tiring and repetitious.

[Read more…]

Historic Mono Basin Agreement To Settle Decades Of Fighting Over Mono Lake Water

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2013

Historic Mono Basin Agreement approved by LA Dept. of Water & Power; CalTrout and Other Groups Sign Off on Water-Sharing Plan

Eastern Sierras, CA – Decades of strife over how much water could be diverted out of four key Mono Lake tributaries to the benefit of Los Angeles water users came to an end today when the Board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) voted to approve a historic settlement agreement among LADWP, non-profit fisheries and water resources conservation organization California Trout (CalTrout), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the Mono Lake Committee.

“It has taken years of challenging and complex negotiations to identify feasible options for implementing this important agreement, and we are eager to see the terms of the agreement put in to action,” noted Mark Drew, Eastern Sierra Manager for CalTrout. “Scientific rigor and analyses played an important role in helping us to figure out what kind of flows are needed, as well as how they are to be delivered, to support healthy fisheries and further restore the Mono Lake ecosystem. We are grateful to LADWP, CA Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Mono Lake Committee for working with us to come to an agreement on these complex issues.”

The settlement agreement lays out the details of a plan to implement several actions, including a significant investment in upgrading Grant Dam and the subsequent delivery of long-term flows, an extensive monitoring program, oversight and bringing to closure earlier requirements stemming from the 1994 decision and subsequent Restoration Orders from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

After the landmark decision in 1994 set the stage for the restoration of the streams, in 1998, the SWRCB appointed a group of stream scientists to analyze conditions and define recommendations for restoring flows to four Mono Lake tributary creeks. After a decade of research and monitoring, in 2010 the scientists presented their long-term flow recommendations.

Once provided, LADWP had the right to contest implementation of the recommended flows. Based on an analysis of how feasible it was to implement the recommendations the LADWP objected to agreeing to implement the recommended flows. In order to resolve disagreements over this issue, CalTrout joined LADWP in making a formal request to the SWRCB to grant the parties time to engage in a facilitated negotiation process. Today’s decision by LADWP Board of Commissioners, settles the end of ongoing litigation and negotiations around Mono Basin water distributions since the early 1980s.

“Lee Vining and Rush Creeks once supported some of the finest rainbow and brown trout fisheries in California, but ongoing diversions to support urban growth in Los Angeles devastated these fish populations,” said California Trout Executive Director Jeff Thompson. “Although the conditions of these Mono Lake tributaries have improved since their low point in the early 1980s, more work needs to be done to create lasting improvements. With the settlement finally in place, Mono Lake and four of its most important tributaries will receive flows that will improve the Mono Basin fisheries and LADWP will be in compliance with important state regulations.”

LADWP’s diversions out of the Mono Basin supported an exploding urban population at the expense of the health of a unique and ancient ecosystem. The resulting dramatic environmental degradation led to a series of landmark lawsuits challenging LADWP’s water export license under Public Trust doctrine, the California Environmental Quality Act, and State Fish & Wildlife (formerly Fish & Game) regulations. California Trout was a lead plaintiff in two of the most important lawsuits leading up to the settlement now under consideration by LADWP.

“California Trout, Audubon Society, and the Mono Lake Committee were some of the earliest groups to recognize the importance of restoring and protecting the entire Mono Basin watershed. The litigation that led up to these successful negotiations played an important role not just for Mono Lake and its tributaries, but also for protecting riparian habitat throughout California,” added attorney Richard Roos-Collins, legal counsel for CalTrout.

The settlement agreement was approved by the LADWP Board at its August 27, 2013 meeting. The agreement will now be presented to the State Water Resources Control for final approval and implementation.

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