With winter-run Chinook facing the possibility of extinction sooner rather than later, it’s necessary to look at all stages of the salmon’s life cycle to ensure survival. CalTrout’s Central Valley Fish and Floodplain Initiative is focused on restoring the ecological function of the intensively managed landscapes to create safer passage for salmon.
In The Battle Upstream, Comstock’s Magazine looks at how CalTrout and others are working to preserve Chinook habitat.
More than 95 percent of Chinook born in the river system die as they attempt to swim downstream toward the ocean, through gauntlets of predators and water pumps. They fare so poorly because the shallow water wetland habitat that once fringed most rivers and which the fish depended on has been destroyed — mostly cut off from moving waters by levees.
“Tens of millions of fish emerge from Sacramento Valley gravels every year, born into a river system where they have little to eat and the altered environment stacks the cards against them,” says Jacob Katz, a California Trout biologist who is leading the Yolo Bypass restoration.
That project could be completed this winter, he says, and will restore at least part of the river ecosystem to a state more hospitable to salmon.
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