The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) and our partners are currently working through a tangle of water issues which stretch from the highest reaches of our beloved Yuba River all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. This issue promises to impact how Yuba water flows into the Bay-Delta system which will have a notable impact on the health of the Yuba watershed’s ecology, especially for salmon.
In response to the precipitous decline of native fisheries, the State of California is looking at solutions to restore some of the freshwater flows that the Delta and fish need. This process is commonly referred to as updating the Bay-Delta Plan. The current focus is on the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River, including the Yuba River. The Yuba to the Bay-Delta connection is critical for Yuba salmon because they depend on both ecosystems to survive.
The State Water Resources Control Board needs to consider the incorporation of Tribal water rights, Tribal Beneficial Uses, and Tribal Ecological Knowledge in the Bay-Delta Plan. The Draft Staff Report should be revised to establish and ensure the protection of Tribal Beneficial Uses, set standards for harmful algae blooms, and address the problem that insufficient freshwater flows are a main factor in destroying native fish habitat and causing these algae blooms. The Plan must guarantee the water’s journey through the Delta to the Golden Gate.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a critical landmark for the migration of salmon in the region. Salmon are anadromous—they start their lives in freshwater, journey to the ocean, and then make their way back to freshwater to reproduce. The Golden Gate Bridge serves as the gateway and departure point for these fish as they navigate between the Pacific Ocean and the Yuba River, where they spawn.
Under this iconic bridge is the original “Golden Gate”—a 1-mile wide and 3-mile-long strait that connects the Bay to the ocean. Think of this as the finish line in a Yuba salmon’s 110-mile odyssey to the sea. Two-thirds of California’s salmon pass through the Golden Gate.