Volunteers at the annual Yuba River Cleanup in 2019 with trash buckets
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Spring-Run Chinook Salmon of the Yuba River are Now Running!

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May is the peak month for wild spring-run salmon to enter the Yuba River.  These rare fish are listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act because over 90% of their historic spawning habitat is blocked by dams, and remnant populations are constrained to the lower reaches of rivers.  Yuba River spring-run salmon persist in low numbers but are under pressure from hatchery fish and other strains of salmon.  SYRCL is working with the Yuba Accord River Management Team (RMT) to study these fish, less than 400 of which have been detected in most years.  For the third year, 30 spring-run fish will be tagged with acoustic transmitters and tracked to study their movements through spawning in the fall. SYRCL’s role within the RMT is to provide consistent and local representation for the four conservation groups (SYRCL, Trout Unlimited, The Bay Institute, and Friends of the River) that negotiated the Fisheries Agreement of the Yuba Accord.  Our Fisheries Biologist and citizen-based water quality monitoring project has directly assisted the monitoring and evaluation program of the RMT, yet SYRCL is not constrained to examine problems only within prevailing management scenarios.  SYRCL is pioneering habitat restoration strategies, and applying legal and public pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers, as their two dams on the lower Yuba River are the primary threat to spring-run salmon. Daguerre Point Dam impedes migrations with antiquated fish ladders.  Englebright Dam blocks access to upstream habitat and starves the lower river of spawning gravels.  Plans to reintroduce salmon and steelhead to habitat above Englebright are designed to recover spring-run salmon from the risk of extinction, and such plans must come from a thorough understanding of the salmon and habitat existing in the lower Yuba River.  If you are interested in learning about the lower Yuba River, then come to the RMT’s annual Symposium in Sacramento on July 11.  See www.yubaaccordrmt.com for a forthcoming agenda and details.  If you are interested in a broader topic of salmon, steelhead, wild rivers and the future of our watershed, then you are in the right place …. we’ll keep you posted.

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