In Idaho’s Upper Salmon River Basin, the Yankee Fork has long-suffered as a river which is unable to recover from dredge-mining and timber harvest that occurred during the area’s gold-rush, around the turn of the 20th century. Join in watching this chronicle of how a large collaborative group, including TU, has been working since 2009 to restore the habitat that the Yankee Fork’s declining salmon, steelhead, and native fish populations need for survival.
Attention anglers, conservationists and river goers! Trout Unlimited, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Forest Service tagged 22 rainbow trout and 3 brown trout with radio tags in the Little Truckee River (LTR). This year long monitoring effort will help better manage and understand the LTR system, and help better implement fish habitat improvement projects. Not only this, the data gained through monitoring will be essential to understanding trout streams all over the United States. We need volunteers to help track trout! If you are interested in tracking these trout in the field please email Sam Sedillo: or call (408) 718-9897.
You will be trained on how to operate the tracking equipment, data entry, and have an unparalleled look into how trout move through the Little Truckee River.
If you are lucky enough to catch or find a tagged trout (image above), please take a picture, measure (if possible) and email the info to: . A huge thanks to all those involved especially the Sagebrush Chapter of Trout Unlimited for funding the project and California Fly Fishers Unlimited for lending us the tracking equipment.
As most of you know, one of TU’s core conservation programs is the Western Water Project. The mission of the WWP is to restore healthy stream flows and habitat across the West. The WWP operates in seven states—California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Washington and Wyoming—and has earned major victories both legislative and in courts of water law. But perhaps this program’s signature work is building partnerships to design and implement on-the-ground restoration projects which demonstrate that working landscapes and fish can coexist.
For example, over the last 15 years, the WWP has helped make pragmatic updates to some state water codes to make restoring and improving stream flows easier, yet fair and equitable to water rights holders. We’ve also partnered with ranchers, farmers, landowners and agencies on scores of projects to restore and reconnect fragmented river systems.
TU’s California Water Project is dedicated to building partnerships with diverse interests and developing conservation projects which take advantage of California’s seasonal water abundance. For the past decade the Project has brought together farmers, residential landowners, conservation groups and resource agencies to realize collaborative projects that enhance water security for people and leave more water in-stream for salmon and steelhead at times when they need it most.
Today, the California Water Project, under the leadership of Stewardship Manager Mary Ann King and project manager Tim Frahm, launched the latest in its series of short films showcasing some of these partnership-projects, and its new online channel for housing them. Check out this blog post for a look at this remarkable project and the people -- and place -- at the heart of it.
The new video, titled You Better Take Care of It: Helping Farmers Help Fish on Pescadero Creek, documents the partnership between TU and Bianchi Flowers Farm in the Pescadero Creek watershed in San Mateo County. Bianchi Flowers is owned and operated by B.J. Burns, a lifelong farmer who grew up next to the creek. In the film, Burns talks about experiences such as cutting class to fish for steelhead in his youth.
Pescadero Creek is one of the last strongholds for wild steelhead on the Central Coast, and holds promise for restoration of native coho salmon, as well.
The new video channel provides a user-friendly interface and useful background content for the videos, which showcase four projects (to date) that improve flows in streams during the dry season. The URL for this channel is https://vimeo.com/channels/californiastreamflow.
Please join me in congratulating the Steelhead Whisperer (Tim), Mary Ann, and TU’s Senior Producer Josh Duplechian for their fine work on the Bianchi Flowers/Pescadero Creek project. Let me know if you have any questions about this project, and as always, thanks for all that you are doing on the front lines of cold water conservation.
Tight lines, Sam
As you know, TU’s cold water conservation efforts are epitomized by our work at the “micro” level to protect and restore habitat and trout and salmon populations. This work often is achieved through projects developed or facilitated by our chapters. TU also works at the “macro” level, primarily through our Science and Water program staff, to drive changes in policy and resource management practices that benefit fish – especially our native salmon and steelhead
On this front, I have some good news to share. Recent developments in the policy realm offer reason for optimism in the arduous effort to bring back our salmon and steelhead in the face of drought, a warming climate, and an over-committed system of water allocation.
First, TU and Wild Steelheaders United joined forces to encourage the California Fish and Game Commission to designate much of the south fork of the fabled Smith River as a State Wild and Heritage Trout Water. Thanks to our efforts, 220 anglers submitted comments in support of this action, which the Commission adopted on October 20. The new designation means a higher level of protection and monitoring for this stream, which provides vital habitat and summer angling in the Smith River system. As any seasoned angler knows, the Smith River is perhaps the best steelhead water in California and is renowned for its angling opportunities for wild steelhead, salmon, and coastal cutthroat trout.
Secondly, the State Water Resources Control Board has, over the past month, taken two actions which could profoundly affect the severely diminished salmon and steelhead runs in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. In short, the water board has released science-based proposals to update the water quality and flow standards for these rivers – these proposals recommend that substantially more “unimpaired flow” be left in these rivers at key times to improve fish passage, spawning and rearing. TU helped to shape these recommendations and is now working to ensure that the target boost in streamflows contemplated is fully implemented when the new regulations are adopted. We will be sure to alert you as opportunities arise in this process to advocate for these long-overdue improvements in managing our limited water supplies for both fish and people.
In the meantime, you can read this new blog post, which discusses this issue in more detail and includes links to TU’s previous comments on the water board’s proposal for the San Joaquin River as well as poetic remarks from Rene Henery, our California Science Director, in a recent article from the Associated Press. Here’s the link: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/the-vascular-system-of-our-landscape.
Thanks for all you are doing, at every level, to help restore and sustain California’s cold water fisheries.
Tight lines, Sam
As many of you know, TU has been working for years to improve flows and habitat conditions in Central Valley rivers for salmon and steelhead, through processes such as the Bay-Delta Plan. Now, for the first time in 20 years, the State Water Resources Control Board has proposed to raise flow standards in the lower San Joaquin River watershed to help fish and water quality in the Delta.
CA Water Policy Director Chandra Ferrari has played a major role in advocating for improved flow standards in state and federal planning and dam relicensing processes, and the water board’s proposal reflects TU’s science-based position that providing more cold water at key times is the single most important thing we can do to recover our dwindling Central Valley salmon and steelhead runs.
In a just-posted blog, Chandra says the water board’s proposed target flow standards for the Merced, Tuolumne, and Stanislaus Rivers are encouraging, but should be higher if we are serious about recovering cold water fish populations. Anglers are strongly encouraged to comment on the water board's proposal – please read and share this post with your chapter members and fishing partners, and on social media! (Deadline for written comments is noon on January 17, 2017).
Information on how to comment is found in Chandra’s blog post. Click this link: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/new-flow-standards-key-to-recovering-central-valley-salmon-and-steelhead.
Thanks for all you are doing to conserve, protect and restore California’s trout and salmon. Wishing all of you a joyous and healthy holiday season, and many fishy days in 2017.
How to Count A TU Volunteer Hour
Trout Unlimited’s strategic plan outlines four major areas of our mission: Protect, Reconnect, Restore and Sustain. Your chapter or council’s activities and volunteer hours will fall within these four categories. The following glossary helps define each of these categories and sub-categories and also provides examples of the types of volunteer hours which should be counted in each category.
Types of Volunteer Hours
Trout Unlimited’s mission is defined by our watershed-based approach to conservation. We recognize that in order to improve water quality and protect native and wild trout populations we must protect the best remaining places – most often in small headwater tributaries, reconnect streams that have been disconnected by dams, culverts and other barriers and restore downstream areas which have been degraded by development, agriculture or other human or natural processes.
Protect efforts are projects and activities which provide critical land protection within a watershed which in turn improves or protects water quality and stream flows as well as efforts to strengthen programs or management plans which protect water or trout populations. Examples of protect projects or activity hours might include:
- Securing long-term protections for important public lands
- Working with land trusts to protect private land vital for trout or salmon
- Protecting key watersheds from development that damages habitat
- Working with state agencies to protect the genetic integrity of native fish (e.g., hatchery reform, invasive species management)
Trout Unlimited sustains our work by building volunteer capacity to execute projects that support the conservation plan, informing TU members and the community at large on the importance of coldwater conservation, investing in youth to ensure the perpetuation of TU’s mission through future generations, gathering information and data to advise our work and raising funds to support all aspects of our work.
TU advocates for coldwater protections and a range of mission-related topics on a regular basis. Advocacy activity is most often associated with state council efforts. While chapters and councils must use caution when entering into specific lobbying activities related to a specific bill or piece of legislation, this type of activity is permitted when it does not constitute a “substantial part” of the chapter or council’s total hours or expenditures. (If you are active in lobbying efforts, or considering lobbying, please contact Volunteer Operations staff to discuss the restrictions and limitations you must follow to protect TU’s 501(c)3 status.) Examples of advocacy projects or activity hours might include:
- Speaking at your local state capital in support or opposition to a specific piece of legislation (such as a riparian buffer bill or statewide water management plan)
- Hosting a “TU Day at the Capitol” to engage and educate lawmakers about your chapter or council’s activities, mission and legislative priorities
- Writing letters of support or opposition to local or state agencies regarding specific development proposals
When to Count an Hour
While it is often easy to know when to count a TU volunteer hour, there are other times when volunteer hours are commonly forgotten or left out of the chapter or council reporting. We want your chapter or council to get credit for ALL the incredible volunteer work you do for TU and the following guidance below should help clarify many of the times your hours can and should be counted.
Counting Volunteer Leader’s Hours
There are many common volunteer leader hours which are easy to understand and count, including: attendance at chapter or council board and committee meetings, participation in youth education events or activities, individual time spent by the newsletter editor or webmaster on communications, the treasurer on book-keeping and financial report, the secretary on writing the minutes etc... The following list, however, includes hours that should be counted which are not always easily recognized.
- Hours spent by chapter or council leaders attending meetings and events – Volunteer leaders should all have a role to play at a chapter meeting or event, including banquets, such as welcoming and greeting new members, speaking with attendees about the chapter’s work, inviting members and guests to volunteer. A chapter meeting or event is a work event for the volunteer leaders and the hours should be counted accordingly.
- Example: A chapter meeting is held which is attended by four (4) chapter board members. The meeting lasts 2.5 hours and the board members spend much of the time engaging their members and guests in conversation, inviting them to attend other events or encouraging them to volunteer. The total hours which should be counted are 4X2.5 or 10 hours and they should be split among the “Engagement” and “Management & General” categories.
- Hours spent by chapter or council leaders driving to meetings, events and projects – Your time volunteering begins the minute you step out of your home or office door and does not end until you return. If you are heading to a board meeting, a membership meeting, a restoration project or a youth education day, the time you spend driving to and from that activity should be counted and should be included in the category for which the event is being held.
- Example: You are driving to a youth fishing day event and the drive takes 30 minutes in each direction. You should count 1 hour of time and record it under the “Youth Education & Outreach” category.
- Hours spent by a chapter or council leader corresponding by email or phone with members, other leaders, partner groups and more – Much of TU’s business is conducted in the off-hours between work and bed, or on weekends, when our volunteers have time to get behind their computer and answer questions, respond to inquiries and conduct chapter planning electronically. You should always count these hours. Many volunteer leaders find it helpful to estimate their email and other correspondence time on a monthly basis and to distribute it proportionately across the various categories.
- Example: Your chapter is hosting a fly fishing trip for members and guests and all reservations are being emailed to you. Count the hours you spend replying to reservations, responding to questions about proper fishing gear and attire, providing driving directions and more. These hours should be placed in the “Engagement” category.
- Example 2: Your chapter is hosting a fundraising banquet and you use your personal contact list to send invitations to friends by email, reach out to business owners you know requesting donations, communicating with the catering company about the contract and meal choices etc… All of these hours should be counted and placed in the “Fundraising” category.
In this episode of Trout Tips Kirk Deeter discusses the Hammer technique.
In this episode of Trout Tips Kirk Deeter discusses reading water.
In this episode of Trout Tips Kirk Deeter discusses tailing loops in your fly cast.