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