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Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition Update

scsclogoSanta Clara River Steelhead Coalition Efforts Forge On

The CalTrout chaired Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition has been extended from June 2015 through May 2017; with generous funds from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP), and additional support from The Rose Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Patagonia, Southern California Edison, and Friends of the Santa Clara River.

The Coalition will pursue six planning and/or implementation projects, such as the Harvey Diversion and 12th Street Infiltration Gallery Fish Passage Restoration Projects led by CalTrout (Read more about 12th Street below), as well as the Santa Clara River Estuary Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Feasibility Study (FRGP 2013); and, IRWM Prop 84 Arundo donax removal and riparian habitat restoration project (read more  on that project here), led by Coalition members the Wishtoyo Foundation and University of California Santa Barbara Riparian Invasion Research Laboratory respectively.

A key recovery strategy has been and will continue to be outreach, education and community engagement. Further objectives of the renewal are to grow and strengthen the existing Coalition of partners. This will be done through a minimum of eight outreach events, from large-scale participation events to a hosted Water Talks Program; expanding on the Mount Shasta model, and sharing our lessons and projects at scientific conferences.

The Coalition is also pleased to announce it has secured its third California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program project to fund the 12th Street Infiltration Gallery Fish Passage Restoration Project

This project is located on the main-stem of the Santa Clara River – a “salmonid   stronghold” that historically supported a steelhead run of 9,000 adults. CalTrout is working with a private diversion operator to replace a gigantic earthen diversion/sand berm; which irrigates local citrus orchards, with an infiltration gallery (essentially an enormous French drain comprised of a matrix of perforated pipes).   The project is truly a “win-win” for environmental and agricultural stakeholders as it will restore fish passage, ensure reliable water infrastructure in this drought era, and reduce the landowner’s recurrent operational and maintenance costs to rebuild the diversion every year.

The Coalition hosts a webpage, Facebook Page and Twitter Account @SCRSC1, and will be producing a host of outreach materials and videos to support this strategy.


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CalTrout Supports Drought Legislation


March 19, 2015


Severn Williams,

510-336-9566, c: 415-336-9623

Statement from California Trout in support of drought legislation

california-drought-desalination-2Sacramento, Calif. – Watershed conservation and fish advocacy organization California Trout today announced its support of efforts by legislative leaders and Governor Brown to address California’s drought crisis by enacting emergency drought legislation. Among other actions, the proposed legislation would accelerate the allocation process for funds raised through Proposition 1E and Proposition 1.

In response to today’s announcement regarding the proposed legislation, Curtis Knight, executive director of California Trout, issued the following statement:

“In proposing this emergency drought legislation, Governor Brown, Assembly Speaker Atkins and Senate President pro Tempore de León have signaled that they understand the dire circumstances facing people and wildlife as this drought drags on.

“Climate models predict drought may be the new normal in our state. Many of California’s native trout, steelhead and salmon – all of which rely on cold, clean water for survival – are in danger of extinction within the next century. The right approach to water management has the potential to simultaneously meet the needs of people and fish, and we think much of what was proposed today could do just that. In particular, focusing investment on improvements in water management on the Yolo Bypass has the potential to dramatically increase flood protection for Central Valley residents while also supporting the recovery of imperiled native fish.

“Protecting water quality for fish means that water is also clean for human consumption. Past droughts have resulted in innovative water conservation measures. This drought provides that same urgency for the public and policymakers to become more aware of the inefficiencies of water use and look for creative ways to get the most benefit from limited water supplies.

“We are grateful for the vision of our leaders in Sacramento, and we hope that as this funding is allocated it focuses on the types of win-win solutions that benefit both people and wildlife. For example, investments in improving existing groundwater storage and maximizing the resilience of local water supplies through programs like water recycling and storm water capture all have the potential to improve outcomes for both people and native fish.”


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First Fish Delisted as Endangered Species

Congratulations Oregon on the delisting of the Oregon Chub from the Endangered Species List, the first fish ever to be delisted.

oregon-chubAt CalTrout, we’re using the same strategies – working with private land owners to incentivize them to grow wild fish and restore habitat — to get some of our fish off the list.  Examples of our work with diverse landowners include working with ranchers and dairy farmers to restore the  Eel River estuary, working with ranchers to develop Safe Harbor Agreements in the Shasta River, and working with rice farmers in the Yolo bypass to create floodplain rearing habitat for juvenile salmon and steelhead.

“The delisting provides some optimism that California’s native salmon and other endangered fisheries also can recover, if we restore our rivers and Bay-Delta estuary to provide sufficient water flows and restored habitat,” Doug Obegi, a staff attorney with Natural Resources Defense Counsel’s water program, said by email.

For the full story, click here.


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Nigiri Project in the Spotlight as Salmon Head Out to Sea


Photo courtesy of Carson Jeffres, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

CalTrout’s Nigiri Project is receiving a lot of press coverage this week as the project’s salmon, that have been feasting in the flooded rice fields for the last several weeks, are heading out to the Pacific Ocean.

The California Aggie did a great job of reporting the multi-benefit approach of the project and how it’s good for the fish and good for the farmer.

Emily James, sales and logistics manager for Robbin’s Rice Company, explains that turning rice fields into wetland habitat in the off-season generates additional income for farms. She states that, due to concerns about air quality and pollution, rice farmers are no longer allowed to burn their fields at the end of the season and are thus forced to flood the fields.

“That flooded field provides excellent habitat and we usually do it for duck hunting and then a couple years ago we were working on pilot studies to see the benefits for migrating shore-birds since the Sacramento Valley is on the Pacific Flyway,” James said.

She adds that the both the marketing and financial benefits of the floodplains make it very attractive to farmers.

ABC News 10 in Sacramento aired footage of the fields and the migration process, including some comments from CalTrout project director, Jacob Katz.  You can see that video here.

Last but not least, Capital Public Radio featured a piece on the project as student’s from a 5th grade field trip were getting a science lesson from Katz.

“Sunlight is converted by algae into sugars. Those sugars are the foundation of the aquatic food chain. When a river is stuck between two levees, there’s very little room, there’s very little surface area for light to hit,” says Katz. “When you spread that water out, like we’re doing here on these agricultural fields, you end up with the solar battery that really can power the whole aquatic system.”

Katz says shallow ponds on the rice fields provide easily accessible food for fish that wouldn’t find nearly as  much to eat if they were still in the Sacramento River.

“The fish grow incredibly fast. We are looking at fish that are basically doubling their weight every week,” says Katz. “This is what Central Valley salmon should be doing. This is what they did historically.”

Read the full story here. Good stuff.


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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).


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…]

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