TU National

2018 TU Annual Meeting - Redding, Calif. Recap

Thanks to the 200+ TU members, volunteers, staff, supporters and friends who came together in Redding, Calif. for an inspiring weekend of conservation, camaraderie and commitment to our mission. We celebrated all that we accomplished together in 2018 and looked ahead to all we will move forward in the coming year.

Resources and Documents from the 2018 Annual Meeting are below:(Some materials do not have live links).

2018 Annual Meeting General Documents

In Hot Water by Yvon Chouinard

Global Climate change is happening, and whether you believe it's human-caused or a natural occurrence makes a big difference. 

I'm not a scientist. But I am a fisherman of more that 70 years, and i've seen firsthand that of the myriad threats facing cold-water fish all over the world, global warming is the most dire.

Water all over the planet is heating up in response to climate change, and our cold-water fish are in serious trouble. 

The temperature of the earth 50 feet down hovers around 56 degrees Fahrenheit. (That's also the temperature of freshwater springs and the perfect temperature for your wine cellar, by the way). Cold-water fish need cold water. Trout and salmon thrive in water somewhere around 56 degrees. In water warmer that 68 degrees, all salmonids experience signs of stress, and warmer than 75 degrees is lethal.

In 2007, Yellowstone National Park experienced a huge fish kill when water temperatures in the Yellowstone River and many of its tributaries reached into the 80s. The same year in June, I was salmon fishing in Arctic Russia when air temperatures hit the 90s for several days. The rivers there are short and come out of shallow lakes, and after a few days the Rynda River heated up to the low 70s in the afternoon. I hooked and released a 12-pound salmon, but it stayed alongside my leg gasping for air for half and hour before it slowly swam away. A few years later in 2015, the mortality rate for sockeye salmon in the warmed-up Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest was between 80 and 90 percent: 250,000 salmon died before they could spawn. In August 2016, 350 miles of the Yellowstone River and its tributaries were closed to boating, fishing, and swimming because of a parasite that caused kidney disease in whitefish and trout. Montana's government website issued a report stating the "magnitude of the kill is unlike anything our fish health specialists have seen."  The parasite, combined with historically low stream flows and 70-degree waters, created a devastating scenario for fish populations, not to mention the local businesses that rely on the fishing economy. 

In my home state of California, no Southern California steelhead has been able to spawn for the last five years because drought conditions had creeks so low they never broke through the sandbars. Hot conditions in Northern California  have caused many lakes to be closed to all users because of lethal blue-green algae blooms. By lethal I mean, if your dog drank the lake water, it could die. 

The freshwater algae Didymosphenia geminate, also known as Didymo or "rock snot," can take over rivers when the water warms. We used to think that it was spread by anglers transporting it from one body of water to another. Now scientists believe that hotter temperatures trigger its growth and spread. I've experienced it on the normally crystal clear Bonaventure River in Quebec - it was so think in places you could hardly wade through it. Didymo also encourages the spread of the tubificid worm that's a host for whirling disease, which causes skeletal deformation and neurological damage in salmon and trout.

Rising temperatures also influence our oceans, of course. The oceans capture so much human-produced carbon dioxide that they're acidifying, and many of the microorganisms that form the base of the whole food chain can no longer make shells and skeletons because there's not enough mineral content. Warm-water ocean fish like mackerel can now travel further north where they prey on salmon smolts. 

Winters start later and end sooner. The pocket glaciers and permanent snowfields in the Coast Range of British Columbia serve as an essential source of cold water all summer long for cold-water fish there. In my lifetime, I've personally seen those glaciers shrink by 30 percent. In these shortened winters, precipitation often comes as rain rather than snow and runoff can happen at anytime, resulting in catastrophic flood events that can alter the course of rivers and destroy redds (the nests where spawning fish lay their eggs).

Global climate change is happening, and whether you believe it's human-caused or a natural occurrence makes a big difference. If it's a natural cycle, then sit back and relax because there's nothing we can do about it. But if we are the cause of any of it, we're also the solution. I've found that the cure for depression is action. What can we do? Protect  what you love. Get involved with local organizations that take care of your stream. Don't vote for dumbass climate-change-denying politicians. Go fishing, and take a kid with you. 

Patagonia Fall, 2017 Catalog page 94.

Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Released into Truckee Basin Waters

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will start releasing Pilot Peak Lahontan cutthroat trout into Truckee area waters to give Sierra Nevada anglers the opportunity to catch some trophy sized trout in a year or two. 

Last week CDFW received a shipment of cutthroat trout eggs from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex in Gardnerville, Nevada. This is the second shipment of eggs in the last two years and is part of a joint effort between the USFWS and CDFW to bring a native, trophy sport fish to the Truckee River Basin. 

Stocking of the sub-catchable size fish from last year’s eggs will begin as early as next week and will continue as the snow melts and planting trucks can gain access. Lakes to be stocked include Echo, Fallen Leaf, Donner, Boca, Prosser, Stampede and Webber lakes.

https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/pilot-peak-lahontan-cutthroat-trout-released-into-truckee-basin-waters/

 source: CDFW website

source: CDFW website

California Land Continues to Sink Due to Groundwater Pumping

"New NASA radar satellite maps prepared for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in the report, Subsidence in California, March 2015-September 2016, show that land continues to sink at in certain areas of the San Joaquin Valley, putting state and federal aqueducts and flood control structures at risk of damage.

A prior August 2015 NASA report prepared for DWR documented record rates of subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley, particularly near Chowchilla and Corcoran, as farmers pumped groundwater in the midst of historic drought.  The report released today shows that two main subsidence bowls covering hundreds of square miles grew wider and deeper between spring 2015 and fall 2016.  Subsidence also intensified at a third area, near Tranquillity in Fresno County, where the land surface has settled up to 20 inches in an area that extends seven miles.

Additional aircraft-based NASA radar mapping was focused on the California Aqueduct, the main artery of the State Water Project, which supplies 25 million Californians and nearly 1 million acres of farmland.  The report shows that subsidence caused by groundwater pumping near Avenal in Kings County has caused the Aqueduct to drop more than two feet.  As a result of the sinking, the Aqueduct at this stretch can carry a flow of only 6,650 cubic feet per second (cfs) – 20 percent less than its design capacity of 8,350 cfs.  To avoid overtopping the concrete banks of the Aqueduct in those sections that have sunk due to subsidence, water project operators must reduce flows."

Unfortunately, once clay soil groundwater aquifers collapse, they can't be recharged with surface water. Read a summary and the full NASA report on the DWR website:

http://www.water.ca.gov/waterconditions/

land subsidence.jpg

When does a species go extinct?

According to a recent article "Facing Extinction: California Fishes" by UC Davis researchers Peter Moyle and Jason Baumsteiger, this isn't an easy question.

"At least two species of California fishes appear to be facing imminent extinction in the wild: delta smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon. 

https://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/Chinook/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150403-smelt-california-bay-delta-extinction-endangered-species-drought-fish/

These species could join about 57 other North American fishes declared extinct. If we are fortunate, these species will continue to scrape by with small populations, maintained through considerable human effort.  But if we are unfortunate, these fishes, and likely other species, will disappear in the near future.   This likelihood suggests we need answers to the following questions:

  1. How do we know when a species is extinct? How long do we have to wait from the time the apparent last individual is captured to declaration of extinction?
  2. Who makes the official determination that a species is extinct?
  3. What role do captive populations play in the extinction process?
  4. Why is there a need to have an extinction policy in place?"

Read more at the California WaterBlog:

https://californiawaterblog.com/2017/04/30/facing-extinction-california-fishes/

Giving Steelhead on Alameda Creek a Helping Hand

tighten the noose.jpg

Historically a number of local East Bay watersheds that drain into San Francisco Bay supported significant runs of steelhead trout and salmon. Development, dams, and drought have done severe damage to these fish.  But the heavy rains during the winter of the 2016-17 offered new hope for the return of native steelhead to Alameda Creek.

On March 23, 2017 about 30 volunteers with the John Muir Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Alameda Creek Alliance, Diablo Valley Fly Fishers, and Grizzly Peak Fly Fishing Club helped fish biologists from the East Bay Regional Park District and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife net five adult steelhead trout below the weir.

Radio transmitters were attached to five steelhead so their upstream migration could be tracked by Park District biologists. The steelhead were then transported to a point above the most upstream rubber dam. The following week four more steelhead captured below the weir and one was tagged. Two of the steelhead were too small for a transmitter, and one was a hatchery fish which was released below the weir. Steelhead continued to be spotted in lower Alameda Creek below the weir throughout March. One radio tagged steelhead was tracked to the upper Sunol Valley, about 23 miles from the Bay.

DNA testing of fins clips from adult steelhead below the BART weir compared to testing of rainbow trout in Alameda Creek indicates that the returning adult steelhead are native to the watershed. One might ask how this is possible given that the weir is a complete barrier to upstream migration, and the capture and transport of fish past these barriers has been limited to only a few wet years. We asked that question to Dr. Rene Henery, a senior fisheries biologist with TU California. One possibility is that some juveniles from resident trout are out-migrating; in fact fyke fish traps in upper Alameda Creek have detected a few smolts in recent years. If this is the case, protecting resident trout in headwater areas may be key to restoring native steelhead runs in some of our streams in the Bay Area.

Membership Event: Damnation at The New Parkway

Screenshot 2017-09-05 16.21.18.png

On March 19, 2017 the John Muir Chapter of Trout Unlimited had its first membership and public event at the New Parkway Theater in Uptown Oakland.  We showed the award winning Patagonia film “Damnation”, a powerful film odyssey across America exploring the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.

Around 70 members and non-members attended the film event, followed by an informal get together at Drakes Dealership Brewery.

Where Did Mount Diablo Creek Go?

Streams on the north side of Mount Diablo (like Mitchel Creek) drain into Mount Diablo Creek and flow towards to Bay. Mount Diablo Creek once supported a healthy run of Steelhead. Those fish are now long gone. The Creek changed directions after oil, gas and water pipelines were laid across it in the floodplain near Clyde and an earthen berm built up. It now disappears into the marsh ground water instead of flowing in it's historic channel out to the Bay. We were out there with colleagues recently after the rains to see if it could be reconnected. We think it can be. Here are some photos that we took:

 

What Happens to Putah Creek When the Glory Hole Overflows?

It's been ten long dry years since the overflow port on Lake Berryessa called the Glory Hole overflowed. The atmospheric rivers across the Pacific and resulting heavy rains this winter finally pushed it over the top again. Flows in Putah Creek topped out over 8,000 cfs in February. We were at the Creek later in the month with the Interdam Reach Work Group to plan restoration projects. The waters had subsided to around 6,000 cfs by then, but the extent of flooding and high flows were still very impressive. Here's a slideshow that we made. Click on the photo to advance to the next. We'll be looking for volunteers later this year. Drop us an e-mail if you'd like to help.

Mapping and Water Monitoring Program underway on Sinbad Creek

The Alameda Creek Alliance recently conducted a community forum to discuss monitoring and mapping on Sinbad Creek - a historical and potential future spawning area for Steelhead. The water sampling program has begun and will run through the late Spring and possibly continue into the summer. JMEB TU is assisting. Volunteers are welcome. Contact Ralph Boniella with ACA if you'd like to participate. Ralph@alamedacreek.org

Program information can be found at the following ACA webpage link:

http://www.alamedacreek.org/restoration-progress/Sinbad%20Stewardship.php

Goals: To collect baseline information about Sinbad Creek, and to inform and involve community members in creek stewardship. This includes mapping Sinbad creek, and gathering basic water quality data about the creek.

Description of the Project: Steelhead trout historically inhabited Alameda Creek and its tributaries, including Sinbad Creek. Sinbad Creek is known to have habitat suitable for steelhead spawning, based on gravel, flow, and migration barriers. Sinbad Creek is likely to only intermittently support steelhead migration during the November to April in-migration period. Low flows during the dry season causes the creek to dry up, limiting the suitability of Sinbad Creek as year-round rearing habitat for juveniles

Catch and Release AND Keep 'em Wet

Great info courtesy of Grizzly Peak Flyfishers on why it's critical to minimize the stress on your trophy trout if you want them to survive:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5EgyZTn1GlrR3RpZDBaQ0ZfekE/view

The Keepemwet website is another great resource. These are the basic principles:

Use barbless Hooks

Reduce Fight Time

Minimize air Exposure

ELIMINATE CONTACT WITH DRY SURFACES

Use a Rubber Net

REDUCE HANDLING

Revive and Release

https://www.keepemwet.org/principles-2#principles

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5566297de4b09e02d653ecf2/t/586fc41ebf629a6f008f13f8/1483719723132/Brownscombe+et+al+2017+Best+practices+for+C%26R.pdf

The Wild Steelhead Coalition developed this excellent report on their website:

http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/2016/12/wsc-releases-paper-on-cnr-fish-handling-impacts/

Suction Dredging (Sam Davidson TUCA)

 UARF

UARF

People are still mining for gold here in the Golden State, often through small scale operations using machinery to suck water and gravel from streambeds so bits of gold can be extracted. This type of mining, known as suction dredge mining, can degrade trout and salmon habitat.

Suction dredge mining is primarily a recreational hobby in California. In recent years the California Department of Fish & Wildlife has issued about 3,500 permits per year for this activity. 

In 2009, the California legislature passed a moratorium on new permits for suction dredge mining while the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) developed new regulations (to address concerns raised in a previous lawsuit regarding suction dredge mining in the Klamath River). Miners sued to overturn the moratorium. The legislature then directed the State Water Resources Control Board (SWB) to regulate suction dredge mining under the federal Clean Water Act.

The Water Board is now in the process of adopting new rules for suction dredge mining to ensure compliance with water quality requirements.

A series of public workshops are scheduled in January, and written comments will be accepted until February 28, 2017. TU urges anglers to weigh in on this important issue (see below for a Sample Comments Letter and the dates/times of public hearings).

Among the potential impacts of suction dredge mining are alteration of spawning gravels and decrease in benthic invertebrate productivity. Some of these impacts to habitat values may be temporary, others more chronic. Mobilization of residual mercury, which can then become an ingestible form (methyl-mercury), is another concern. Today, there are 178 rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs in California officially impaired by mercury, including the twelve largest water supply reservoirs in the state. 

The SWB is considering a variety of actions, including prohibiting issuance of suction dredge permits in mercury-impaired waters. This action would better protect important trout and salmon streams such as the Klamath, Yuba, American, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers.

But many other cold water fisheries are not (yet) listed for mercury impairment. Due to the many pressures California's native trout, salmon and steelhead already are under, the Water Board should restrict or prohibit suction dredge mining in all waters that support native trout, steelhead and salmon—including state designated Wild and Heritage Trout waters.

(R) Suction dredge mining impacts, EF San Gabriel River

The East Fork of the San Gabriel River is one such water. This popular trout stream has populations of remnant southern steelhead, and an extensive history of mining. Inexplicably, it hasn't been declared impaired for mercury. Streams such as the EF San Gabriel should be off limits to suction dredge mining to protect water quality and habitat.

The Water Board should consider restricting, or prohibiting, suction dredge mining in waters that: 

provide habitat for native, at-risk, or endangered fish species;
are already impaired or could be impaired by mercury or sediment;
are designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers or Wild and Heritage Trout Waters;
are significant sources of drinking water
California's trout and salmon are struggling in many waters from a variety of stressors, including impacts associated with the warming climate, drought, excessive diversions, and invasive species. We need to make sure all uses of these waters are sustainable, in terms of protecting habitat and water quality. Regulating suction dredge mining to protect water quality, especially in streams which are sources of clean water for human use as well as habitat for fish and wildlife, makes sense. Please attend one of the SWB's public workshops and submit comments by email today.

 

PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULE

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
1-5 p.m.
Elks Lodge  
2055 Elks Drive, San Bernardino 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017
4-7 p.m.
Karuk Community Room  
39051 Highway 96, Orleans 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
1-5 p.m.
Redding City Chambers  
747 Auditorium Drive, Redding  

Monday, February 6, 2017
1-5 p.m.
CalEPA Headquarters Bldg.
Byron Sher Auditorium  
1001 I Street, Second Floor, Sacramento

For more information on this process, go to: 
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/npdes/docs/revised_notice_suction_dredging_pub.pdf

 

SAMPLE COMMENTS LETTER

Comment Letter—Potential Actions to Protect Water Quality from Suction Dredge Mining

State Water Resources Control Board
Div. of Water Quality – NPDES Unit
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0100

Via email: suctiondredgecommentletters@waterboards.ca.gov

Dear Water Board:

I support California's commitment to protecting water quality and our state’s fresh water fisheries from the impacts of suction dredge mining.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that suction dredge mining can cause adverse impacts to water quality and habitat values. Many of our state’s most important trout and salmon fisheries depend on waters where suction dredge mining takes place.

Therefore I urge the Water Board to adopt regulations that require compliance with federal and state water quality standards, and to prohibit suction dredge mining in waters that are impaired for mercury or sediment, provide critical habitat for native and at-risk species of trout and salmon, waters with special federal or state designations (such as California Wild and Heritage Trout waters), or that are critical sources of drinking water. Such waters include the North Fork American, the Klamath, and the East Fork San Gabriel rivers.

Suction dredge mining in California is practiced by only a small number of residents and visitors. As our native trout, steelhead and salmon continue to struggle in the face of drought, climate change, and other pressures, we must ensure that this activity does not degrade our water supply or cause lasting harm to our trout and salmon fisheries.

Thank you,

(name, address, email) 

Save Bristol Bay

Friends,

It has never been more important to stand up for Bristol Bay. The stock of the sole investor in the Pebble “Partnership" has tripled since Election Day. And, recent news stories have talked about Pebble’s newfound confidence to move their mine forward.

But they know we’re a force. Pebble execs said of the millions of Americans who oppose the project, “The company will still have to deal with that apart from the technical aspects of the project.” …Um, yes. 

We’re not going to make it easy on them. Bristol Bay is too important for us to sit back now. Please take action today. Click here if you live in Alaska or here if you live in the Lower 48.

We’ve come too far to let Pebble get a free pass to destroy the salmon rivers and American jobs that so many people depend on. We need you to continue to say loud and clear that Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place.

We’re going to need you this year to tell the world again and again that the Pebble Partnership is not wanted in Alaska. A good start is by signing one of these petitions today:

1.  If you live in Alaska, send this letter to the Walker Administration.
2.  If you live in the Lower 48, sign this letter to President Trump.

We all know Bristol Bay salmon are a world-class resource and the foundation of culture for local tribes and communities, a hunting and angling paradise, and the platform on which a $1.5 billion economy that supports 14,000 full and part-time American jobs is built.

We need you to help make sure we don’t trade Bristol Bay’s cultures, jobs and economy for a risky and temporary mining project.

Rest assured here at Save Bristol Bay we are committed as we ever have been to protecting Bristol Bay – join us!

Sincerely,

Jenny Weis
Save Bristol Bay

Get to know your local Steelhead

 photo by Teri Moore, CDFW

photo by Teri Moore, CDFW

Information sources NOAA NMFS and CalFish

http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pr/species/fish/steelhead-trout.html

http://www.calfish.org/FisheriesManagement/SpeciesPages/SteelheadTrout.aspx

Species Description - Steelhead Trout

Weight: up to 55 pounds (25 kg), but usually much smaller

Length: up to 45 inches (120 cm), but usually much smaller

Appearance: dark-olive in color, shading to silvery-white on the underside with a heavily speckled body with a pink-red stripe along their sides; in the ocean, they become more silver

Lifespan: up to 11 years;
sexually mature at 2-3 years

Diet: zooplankton while young;
adults feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects, mollusks, crustaceans, fish eggs, minnows, and other small fishes (including other trout)

Behavior: migrate from a marine environment into the freshwater streams and rivers of their birth in order to mate;
females will prepare a "redd" (or nest) in a stream area and may deposit eggs in 4-5 "nesting pockets" within a redd

Steelhead trout can reach up to 55 pounds (25 kg) in weight and 45 inches (120 cm) in length, though average size is much smaller.

They are usually dark-olive in color, shading to silvery-white on the underside with a heavily speckled body and a pink to red stripe running along their sides.

They are a unique species; individuals develop differently depending on their environment. While all O. mykiss hatch in gravel-bottomed, fast-flowing, well-oxygenated rivers and streams, some stay in fresh water all their lives. These fish are called rainbow trout. The steelhead that migrate to the ocean develop a slimmer profile, become more silvery in color, and typically grow much larger than the rainbow trout that remain in fresh water.

Adults migrate from a marine environment into the freshwater streams and rivers of their birth in order to mate (called anadromy). Unlike other Pacific salmonids, they can spawn more than one time (called iteroparity). Migrations can be hundreds of miles.

Young animals feed primarily on zooplankton. Adults feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects, mollusks, crustaceans, fish eggs, minnows, and other small fishes (including other trout).

Maximum age is about 11 years. Males mature generally at 2 years and females at 3 years. Juvenile steelhead may spend up to 7 years in freshwater before migrating to estuarine areas as smolts and then into the ocean to feed and mature. They can then remain at sea for up to 3 years before returning to freshwater to spawn. Some populations actually return to freshwater after their first season in the ocean, but do not spawn, and then return to the sea after one winter season in freshwater. Timing of return to the ocean can vary, and even within a stream system there can be different seasonal runs.

Steelhead can be divided into two basic reproductive types, based on the state of sexual maturity at the time of river entry and duration of spawning migration:

  • stream-maturing
  • ocean-maturing

The stream-maturing type (summer-run steelhead in the Pacific Northwest and northern California) enters freshwater in a sexually immature condition between May and October and requires several months to mature and spawn.

The ocean-maturing type (winter-run steelhead in the Pacific Northwest and northern California) enters freshwater between November and April, with well-developed gonads, and spawns shortly thereafter. Coastal streams are dominated by winter-run steelhead, whereas inland steelhead of the Columbia River basin are almost exclusively summer-run steelhead.

Adult female steelhead will prepare a redd (or nest) in a stream area with suitable gravel type composition, water depth, and velocity. The adult female may deposit eggs in 4 to 5 "nesting pockets" within a single redd. The eggs hatch in 3 to 4 weeks.

Habitat

Steelhead are capable of surviving in a wide range of temperature conditions. They do best where dissolved oxygen concentration is at least 7 parts per million. In streams, deep low-velocity pools are important wintering habitats. Spawning habitat consists of gravel substrates free of excessive silt.

Critical habitat for 10 west coast steelhead DPSs was designated on September 2, 2005. Critical habitat for the Puget Sound steelhead was designated on February 24, 2016.

Migrating Adults

It has been reported that 7 inches is the minimum depth required for successful migration of adult steelhead although the distance fish must travel through shallow water areas is also a critical factor.  Excessive water velocity and obstacles which impede the swimming and jumping ability are significant in hindering or blocking migration.  Water velocities of 10 to 13 ft/s begin to hinder the swimming ability of adult steelhead and may delay migration.  Optimum temperature requirements vary based on stock but generally fall in the range of 46 to 52°F.

Spawning Females

The preferred depth for spawning ranges from 6 to 24 inches with an average of 14 inches.  Steelhead spawn in areas with water velocities ranging from 1 to 3.6 ft/s but prefer velocities of about 2 ft/s.  Larger steelhead have the ability to establish redds and spawn in faster currents than smaller steelhead.

Adult steelhead have been reported to spawn in substrates from 0.2 to 4.0 inches in diameter.  Based on the Bovee (1978) classification, steelhead utilize mostly gravel-sized material for spawning but will also use mixtures of sand-gravel and gravel-cobble.

Optimum temperature requirements vary based on stock but generally fall in the range of 39 to 52°F.

Fry

Eggs and sac fry in the gravels interstitial spaces require highly permeable gravels to keep the incubating eggs and sac fry well oxygenated and should contain less than 5% sand and silt.  Once fry emerge from the gravel, they utilize water in the range of 2 to 14 inches in depth and prefer water approximately 8 inches in depth.  Fry prefer substrate categorized as cobble/rubble which is slightly larger than that preferred by adult steelhead for spawning.  Optimum temperature requirements vary based on stock but generally fall in the range of 45 to 60°F.

Parr (juveniles)

Parr prefer a water depth of 10 inches but utilize water 10 to 20 inches deep.  Juveniles prefer substrate categorized as cobble/rubble which is slightly larger than that preferred by adult steelhead for spawning. 

Smolts

Optimum temperature requirements vary based on stock but are generally less than 57°F.

Distribution

In the United States, steelhead trout are found along the entire Pacific Coast. Worldwide, steelhead are naturally found in the Western Pacific south through the Kamchatka peninsula. They have been introduced worldwide.

Steelhead in East Bay Creeks - 5 Year Status Review of California Central Coast Steelhead

The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a report in April 2016 summarizing the 5 year recovery status of Steelhead Trout in the Central California Coastal designated region. Unlike other Pacific salmonids, Steelhead can spawn more than once. In biological terms, this is called iteroparity.

This distinct population segment, or DPS, includes naturally spawned anadromous O. mykiss (steelhead) originating below natural and manmade impassable barriers from the Russian River to and including Aptos Creek, and all drainages of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays eastward to Chipps Island at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Also, steelhead from two artificial propagation programs:

  • Don Clausen Fish Hatchery Program
  • Kingfisher Flat Hatchery Program (Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project)

This includes several important Bay Area creeks. Alameda Creek is listed as an "essential population". Pinole, San Pablo, Wildcat, Codornes, San Leandro and San Lorenzo Creeks in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties are lsited as "supporting populations." The NMFS recommendations are as follows:

"Improving conditions for CCC steelhead requires improved passage,habitat, flows, and population viability. Passage improvements are needed to remedy both partial and complete barriers to migration and reach-scale movement of adults and juveniles. Habitat improvements should include attention to in -stream and estuarine habitat complexity, and the geomorphic and watershed processes that support habitat function. Flow protections and improvements are needed to protect all life stages and habitat, and should support base (low) flows, natural -type hydrographs, and groundwater resources. Improved population monitoring is needed to better understand the status of populations and the DPS"

Details can be found at this link:

http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/status_reviews/salmon_steelhead/2016/2016_ccc-steelhead.pdf

.

How is the Endangered Species Act managed to protect Salmon, Steelhead and other species?

Congress passed the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on December 28, 1973, recognizing that the natural heritage of the United States was of “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” It was understood that, without protection, many of our nation’s living resources would become extinct.

The purpose of the ESA is to conserve threatened and endangered species and their ecosystems. There are more than 1,900 species listed under the ESA. A species is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of it s range. A species is considered threatened if it is likely to become endangered in the future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened. For the purposes of the ESA, Congress defined species to include subspecies, varieties, and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments.

The Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) share responsibility for implementing the ESA. The USFWS has primary responsibility for terrestrial and freshwater organisms, while the responsibilities of NMFS for 94 marine species, from whales to sea turtles and salmon to Johnson’s sea grass. This includes 28 salmon and steelhead stocks in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Congress passed the Endangered Species Preservation Act in 1966, providing a means for listing native animal species as endangered and giving them limited protection. The Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Defense were to seek to protect listed species, and, insofar as consistent with their primary purposes, preserve the habitats of such species. The Act also authorized the Service to acquire land as habitat for endangered species. In 1969, Congress amended the Act to provide additional protection to species in danger of “worldwide extinction” by prohibiting their importation and subsequent sale in the United States. This Act called for an international meeting to adopt a convention to conserve endangered species. One amendment to the Act changed its title to the Endangered Species Conservation Act.

A 1973 conference in Washington, D. C. led 80 nations to sign the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which monitors, and in some cases, restricts international commerce in plant and animal species believed to be harmed by trade.

Later that year, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act of 1973. It

  • defined “endangered” and “threatened” [section 3];
  • made plants and all invertebrates eligible for protection [section 3];
  • applied broad “take” prohibitions to all endangered animal species and allowed the prohibitions to apply to threatened animal species by special regulation [section 9];
  • required Federal agencies to use their authorities to conserve listed species and consult on “may affect” actions [section 7];
  • prohibited Federal agencies from authorizing, funding, or carrying out any action that would jeopardize a listed species or destroy or modify its “critical habitat” [section 7];
  • made matching funds available to States with cooperative agreements [section 6];
  • provided funding authority for land acquisition for foreign species [section 8]; and
  • implemented CITES protection in the United States [section 8].

Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) under section 10(a)(1)(B) of the Act provide for partnerships with non-Federal parties to conserve the ecosystems upon which listed species depend, ultimately contributing to their recovery. HCPs are planning documents required as part of an application for an incidental take permit. They describe the anticipated effects of the proposed taking; how those impacts will be minimized, or mitigated; and how the HCP is to be funded. HCPs can apply to both listed and nonlisted species, including those that are candidates or have been proposed for listing.

Congress enacted significant amendments in 1978, 1982, and 1988, while keeping the overall framework of the 1973 Act essentially unchanged. The funding levels in the present Act were authorized through Fiscal Year 1992. Congress has annually appropriated funds since that time.

Learn more about listing or delisting species, critical habitat, habitat conservation plans and species recovery plans at these links:

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/delisting.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/critical_habitat.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/hcp.pdf

https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/recovery.pdf

(sources: USFWS and NMFS websites)

How many Chinook Salmon runs are there anyway?

According to the Ca DFW, there are 17 distinct runs. These are classified on the DFW website as follows:

California streams support the southern-most Chinook salmon runs on the west coast. Chinook salmon in California display a wide array of life history patterns that allow them to take advantage of the diverse and variable riverine and ocean environments. Chinook salmon are “anadromous” fish, migrating upstream as adults to spawn in freshwater streams, and migrating as juveniles downstream to the ocean to grow and mature. The time spent in the ocean and freshwater varies greatly among the various runs. At least seventeen distinct runs of Chinook salmon are recognized in California . These runs have been classified into six major groups, or Evolutionarily Significant Units.

Southern Oregon and Northern California Coastal Chinook Salmon

The Southern Oregon and Northern California Coastal Chinook salmon ESU includes fall-run Chinook salmon in coastal streams from Cape Blanco in Oregon south to the Klamath River. Southern Oregon and Northern California Coastal Chinook salmon were proposed for federal listing in 1999, but listing was determined to be not warranted.

California Coastal Chinook Salmon

The California Coastal Chinook salmon ESU includes all; naturally spawned populations of Chinook salmon from rivers and streams south of the Klamath River to the Russian River, California, as well as seven artificial propagation programs: the Humboldt Fish Action Council (Freshwater Creek), Yager Creek, Redwood Creek, Hollow Tree, Van Arsdale Fish Station, Mattole Salmon Group, and Mad River Hatchery fall-run Chinook hatchery programs.

Due to concern over depressed population sizes relative to historical abundance, California Coastal Chinook salmon were federally listed as threatened in 1999.

Upper Klamath - Trinity River Chinook Salmon

Fall, late-fall, and spring-run Chinook spawn and rear in the Trinity River and in the Klamath River upstream of the mouth of the Trinity River. In the Trinity River, Chinook salmon spawn in the mainstem (with their upstream distribution limited by Lewiston Dam), the north and south forks, Hayfork Creek, New River, and Canyon Creek. In the Klamath River, Chinook salmon once ascended into Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, to spawn in the major tributaries to the lake (Williamson, Sprague, and Wood Rivers), but access to this region was blocked by Copco Dam, built in 1917. Today Chinook are known to spawn in the mainstem Klamath River, Bogus Creek, Shasta River, Scott River, Indian Creek, Elk Creek, Clear Creek, Salmon River, Bluff Creek, Blue Creek, and the lower reaches of some of the other smaller tributaries to the mainstem river.

Upper Klamath – Trinity River Chinook salmon were proposed for federal listing in 1998, but listing was determined to be not warranted.

Central Valley Fall and Late Fall-run Chinook Salmon

Four distinct runs of Chinook salmon spawn in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system, named for the season when the majority of the run enters freshwater as adults. Fall-run Chinook migrate upstream as adults from July through December and spawn from early October through late December. The timing of runs varies from stream to stream. Late fall-run Chinook migrate into the rivers from mid-October through December and spawn from January through mid-April. The majority of young salmon of these races migrate to the ocean during the first few months following emergence, although some may remain in freshwater and migrate as yearlings.

Fall-run Chinook are currently the most abundant of the Central Valley races, contributing to large commercial and recreational fisheries in the ocean and popular sportfisheries in the freshwater streams. Fall-run Chinook are raised at five major Central Valley hatcheries which release more than 32 million smolts each year. Due to concerns over population size and hatchery influence, Central Valley fall/late fall-run Chinook salmon are a Species of Concern under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Central Valley Spring-run Chinook Salmon

Four distinct runs of Chinook salmon spawn in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system, named for the season when the majority of the run enters freshwater as adults. Spring-run Chinook enter the Sacramento River from late March through September. Adults hold in cool water habitats through the summer, then spawn in the fall from mid-August through early October. Spring-run juveniles migrate soon after emergence as young-of-the-year, or remain in freshwater and migrate as yearlings.

Spring-run Chinook were historically the most abundant race in the Central Valley. Now only remnant runs remain in Butte, Mill, Deer, Antelope, and Beegum Creeks, tributaries to the Sacramento River. In the mainstem Sacramento River and the Feather River, early-running Chinook salmon occur, but significant hybridization with fall-run has occurred. Due to the small number of non-hybridized populations remaining and low population sizes, Central Valley spring-run were listed as threatened under both the state and federal endangered species acts in 1999.

Sacramento River Winter-run Chinook Salmon

Four distinct runs of Chinook salmon spawn in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River system, named for the season when the majority of the run enters freshwater as adults. Adult winter-run pass under the Golden Gate Bridge from November through May, and pass into the Sacramento River from December through early August. Winter-run Chinook spawn in the upper mainstem Sacramento River from mid-April through August. Fry and smolts emigrate downstream from July through March through the Sacramento River, reaching the Delta from September through June.

Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Little Sacramento Rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas. Winter-run Chinook, however, were able to take advantage of cool summer water releases downstream of Keswick Dam. In the 1940’s and 1950’s the population recovered. However, beginning in 1970, the population experienced a dramatic decline, to a low of approximately 200 spawners by the early 1990’s. The run was classified as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act in 1989, and as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1994