Your Call to Action for Our Yuba Salmon

We heard you loud and clear. You want protection for Yuba River Salmon. So do we.

During Wild and Scenic Film Festival you answered our Call to Action at our outreach booths by signing an important letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to make Yuba River salmon a priority. With your help South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) collected 2,411 signatures, exceeding our goal by over 400.

Image: Josh Miller Photography

Last week, in his State of the State address, Governor Newsom declared that we need “. . . a fresh approach when it comes to meeting California’s massive water challenges. We have a big state with diverse water needs. Cities that need clean water to drink, farms that need irrigation to keep feeding the world, fragile ecosystems that must be protected.”

SYRCL provides Newsom and his administration with that “fresh approach” by emphasizing the importance of protection for our fragile Yuba River ecosystem. His address to the State was a great first step toward making wild fish habitat a priority for California. We hope your collective signatures will further encourage him to prioritize funding for large scale restoration in the Lower Yuba River to save critically low populations of Chinook salmon and steelhead. We are organizing an in-person meeting with the Newsom Administration soon.

“The primary objective of the letter writing campaign was to bring statewide attention to the Yuba River watershed, and specifically the Lower Yuba – the  region of the river below Englebright Dam that has been negatively impacted by Gold Rush era hydraulic mining, dams, and drought,” said Ashley Overhouse, SYRCL’s River Policy Manager.

Salmon are the canary in the coal mine 

Wild Yuba salmon are a keystone species and are ‘key’ to the overall health of the watershed. Large scale restoration in the Lower Yuba will not only help salmon but all species who live and depend on the Yuba River.

Restoration of Sierra meadows and downstream spawning habitats help the environment by improving water supply and quality. In addition, sustainable fish populations benefit California’s recreation economy. Salmon fisheries support a $1.5 billion commercial and recreational fishing industry. State and Federal fish biologists have identified the Yuba River as one of the best places in California to restore wild salmon and steelhead now in jeopardy of extinction.

“We want the lower Yuba and the Goldfields to be a vibrant, thriving ecosystem, where communities can go outdoors and prosper economically from a restored river. Governor Newsom and his administration can help us achieve the vision by funding restoration through legislation and grants,” said Ashley.

Letter writers asked Governor Newsom to increase investment in green infrastructure like restoring Sierra meadows (work that SYRCL is already doing) to ensure a sustainable water future for all of California. As much as sixty percent of all water in California originates in the Sierra Nevada range.

Habitat restoration is working but new threats emerge

Image: Thomas Dunklin

Restoration work that SYRCL has been putting in place for the past few years is starting to make a difference.

This year, 3,000 Fall Chinook passed over Daguerre Dam compared to 1,500 the previous year. However, those are still critically low numbers compared to the  tens of thousands that historically returned to the Yuba River before habitat was degraded by dams and hydraulic mining.

Already we are seeing those predictions come true in the wake of the deadly Camp Fire in Paradise and resulting impacts to Butte Creek and the Sacramento River watershed. Recently, California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment concluded the Sierra Nevada region will suffer from catastrophic wildfires and experience increased erosion and sedimentation that will further degrade salmon habitat and impact communities that depend on healthy watersheds.

It is now more important than ever to remain vigilant in support of healthy rivers, fish and communities. We thank you for your support and we’ll continue to update you on this important action.

Want to stay informed? Become a SYRCL member, donate to the cause or sign up for the SYRCL newsletter at yubariver.org.

Want to learn more about the health of Yuba River salmon and the work SYRCL is doing to protect these native fish? Visit: yubasalmonnow.org.

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