Yuba spring-run salmon count indicates a record low

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Photo: Thomas Dunklin

As of July 7th, only 32 salmon have been detected at the fish counting station at Daguerre Point Dam on the Lower Yuba River.  This is far below the average of 752 salmon detected by this time of year since monitoring of this type began in 2004.  The fish count data is posted at the website for the Yuba Accord River Management Team, an interagency group charged with monitoring and evaluating conditions for fish in the lower Yuba River.  No reports or explanatory information have been released along with the data.

SYRCL’s Fisheries Biologist, Gary Reedy, is the representative for conservation groups on the River Management Team and says the data clearly suggests very low numbers of returning adult spring-run salmon to the Yuba River this year.  The official abundance estimate for Yuba River spring-run Chinook salmon, ranging from 372 to 3,592 since 2004, is calculated at the end of the calendar year, after statistical methods are used to differentiate the two salmon runs of the Yuba: spring-run Chinook and fall-run Chinook.  While these two types of salmon historically segregated themselves, with the spring-run migrating into the upper watershed, they now share habitats in the lower Yuba River.  Some spring-run salmon have been found to remain in the plunge pool of Daguerre Point Dam until spawning season begins in September.

“No matter how many salmon might presently be holding below Daguerre Point Dam, we are looking at what will likely be less than 100 fish and less than the minimum abundance for a viable population”, says Reedy. ”This is concerning since Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon are officially listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened with extinction, and the Yuba is considered one of the most important rivers for recovery.  Chinook salmon runs may be relatively low this year across the region, as we shall soon see. Nevertheless, this count for the Yuba River represents a severe and disturbing decline.”

For more than a decade, SYRCL has been advocating for immediate actions in the lower Yuba River to protect and enhance spring-run salmon, as well as planning for the best long-term solution to restore an independent and self-sustaining population of these special fish that were historically dependent on habitats in the upper Yuba River watershed. Habitat restoration projects led by SYRCL are designed to increase the opportunities for production and survival of juvenile spring-run Chinook salmon, so that more will return to the river as adults. SYRCL is committed to working with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Yuba County Water Agency and other stakeholders to develop and implement new and effective restoration projects. Learn more about SYRCL’s work at the Yuba Salmon Now webpage.

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One Comment

  1. Ray Mcreynolds says:

    I spoke with Tracy McReynolds DFG in May about the springers in Butte Creek. The count this year was a bit over 2000 fish.. They only had 200 cfs in the creek to work with this year. More like 35 to 40 cfs at the lower fish ladders. I think it might be time to have Yuba spring run fish listed as endanger vs threatened.

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