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Some Fishy News for the Yuba

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Salmon and healthy fisheries are a sign of a healthy watershed, which is why SYRCL works to protect the Yuba River watershed by advocating for fish passage, through the Yuba Salmon Now campaign, engaging in important regulatory processes such as dam relicensing to improve instream flows, and leading and working in partnership on restoration projects to improve habitat for fish. This work is more important now than ever before, especially in the face of climate change.

The Good – Green Sturgeon Reproducing in the Yuba River

Green Sturgeon, image: David Dominquez USFWS

In 2018, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has documented for the first time that endangered Green sturgeon are actively spawning below Daguerre Point Dam in the Lower Yuba River.

“Green sturgeon, which are listed as threatened under the Federal Endangered Species Act, are in effect a living fossil, having swam in both the fresh and ocean waters from California to Alaska for more than 200 million years,” says a recent article by CDFW. CDFW promises to conduct further research on the Yuba River “for the future protection and enhancement of the species.”

This is an exciting moment for our community, fisheries and the Yuba River watershed. Check out CDFW’s article and SYRCL’s “Recovering Threatened Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon” page for more information.

The Odd – the Whooshh Fish Passage Technology

Did you know that Yuba Salmon can’t access over 90 percent of their historic habitat due to dams? Well, this isn’t just an issue for the Yuba River watershed. An especially creative method called the “Whooshh” was newly tested this past summer in the Columbia River. This tube and lever system moves fish like salmon over dams in minutes rather than a lengthy fish ladder, returning fish safely to the water upstream unharmed. Check out this video and article for a close-up demonstration.

The Ugly – Climate Change Threatens Pacific Chinook Salmon

A group of scientists published a report this summer revealing that certain populations of Pacific salmon and steelhead are specifically vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including the Chinook in California’s Central Valley and the Northern California steelhead. This means that Yuba salmon and steelhead may be especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change, which includes more frequent droughts and warmer water in the river. This makes river flow management all the more important as dam operators actively manage lower flows, and thus water temperatures, in the Lower Yuba River.

The article in Phys.org notes that while all fish populations studied were found to be vulnerable to climate change, “some population groups were more affected than others by local conditions, such as barriers to migration such as dams.”

Check out this article and the report for more information.

Want more “fishy news” about SYRCL’s Yuba Salmon Now campaign? Become a SYRCL member and help fish in Yuba River watershed today by signing up for our Annual Yuba River Cleanup on September 21st. Everyone deserves a clean watershed. Salmon Expeditions are coming up this Fall, so stay tuned for more updates on this popular activity.

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