State Policy to Maintain Instream Flows – now open for comment – The comment period has been extended to May 1st.
I have been working on comment. There still is a long way to go. This extension probably means that the diverters have been raising hell.
Steam Classification – as part of this policy has not, or, is not proposed to be altered. The policy will remain – simply put:
Class I streams – have fish or historically had fish
Class II streams – support aquatic life – plants, insects, amphibians – do not have to flow year round
Class III streams – ephemeral, have a bed and bank ( can be a swale), and do not support aquatic life – plants, insects, amphibians
Low salmon run returns have been reported up and down the coast for both coho and chinook (King).
A hole in the Marin county returns is a bad sign for coho.
On the Sacramento the low chinook returns are making DFG and the SWRCB nervous. The causal factors for this fishery collapse can be many – or – cumulative. Large amounts of water diverted from the Bay Delta is one reason often pointed at. Another reason pointed at by Ag is the maintenance of large bass populations in the Delta. The bass love to eat the millions of chinook salmon fingerlings dumped in the delta every year. The finger also can be pointed out to loss of spawning habitat.
The one issue that is rarely mentioned is the reliance on hatchery fish for the Sacto salmon run. For many years DFG has dumped millions upon millions of hatchery raised fish in the delta. Hatchery fish are genetically and physically weak. Hatchery monoculture progeny are subject to disease and lacking genetically disposed skills for feeding and survival in various conditions. The hatchery fish, if they do return, compete with wild fish and alter wild fish genetics – thus imposing limiting factors on wild fish survival where enough problems already exist.
This hatchery problem extends to coho also – but to a somewhat lesser extent – as the practices are done on such a smaller scale.
Coho salmon need specific conditions for survival. If these conditions are altered – removal of riparian shade, warm water, and silted spawning gravels all will limit coho production, return, and survival.