After decades of neglect, the Army Corps of Engineers was extremely busy last month working to improve conditions for salmon passage at Daguerre Point Dam. As a result of SYRCL’s lawsuit, the Corps put grates on top of the fish ladders to finally stop poaching and lethal jumps out of the ladders. The Corps also dredged sediments that had accumulated above the dam impeding passage of fish from the ladders back to the main river channel. Thirdly, they produced a plan for using flashboards on the rim of the dam to improve attraction of fish to the poorly designed ladders. These actions are small steps of improvement compared to the ultimate solution – removing this archaic dam. Nonetheless, these actions reflect a new era where wild salmon of the Yuba are finally getting the attention they deserve.
In addition to the above actions, the Corps was required to produce a study evaluating the use of a segregation weir as a means to provide spring-run salmon the separation from fall-run salmon that they need during spawning season to remain distinct. The risk of extinction for spring-run salmon in the Yuba River comes primarily from the fact that Englebright Dam prevents access to their unique spawning habitat high in the watershed. The segregation weir was also evaluated as means to protect wild salmon from the large number of hatchery fish that stray into the Yuba from the Feather River. While the ultimate answer is to provide passage to upper Yuba River habitats, salmon fans will be hearing more in the near-term about segregation and hatchery strays as our campaign to save wild salmon on the Yuba becomes increasingly bold, even breaking new ground for salmon recovery in the entire Sacramento River watershed.
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