It’s been a busy and amazingly productive year for Trout Unlimited in California. With the help of our 10,000 California members and our dozens of agency and project partners, we reached major milestones on many of our highest priority initiatives. All of these highlight TU’s successful formula for protecting and restoring trout and salmon: a reliance on science, partnerships, and pragmatic solutions that benefit both people and the environment.
In 2016 we took a “big step forward on the road to redemption for the Klamath River.” We kept or returned more than 100 million gallons of water in rivers and streams through partnerships with ranchers, farmers, and landowners. We restored habitat in dozens of miles of steelhead and salmon streams. We kept some 8,000 cubic yards of sediment from old roads out of prime coho and steelhead habitat. We removed multiple barriers to fish passage from San Luis Obispo to Arcata, including the highest priority dam in the Russian River watershed.
Read more in the TU Blog.
I read recently that the Millennial generation cares more about experiences than possessions. This was gratifying to me, as I have hewn to that credo myself since I was old enough to understand the choice—and my two children are the tail end of the Millennials.
It got me thinking about the kinds of experience that deliver greater value than “stuff.” For me, it has everything to do with place. Some places whisper to us, shape and define us, their handiwork glacial or catalytic as lightning. Eventually our returns to them coalesce into habit, thence to tradition.
Without having to think hard about it, I can tell you the places which have exerted such influence on me that an annual visit became a “necessary embrace...beautiful as fire,” as put forth by Robinson Jeffers in the poem The Excesses of God.
Read More on the TU blog.
Chris Wood, the President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, gives his annual State of Trout Unlimited speech at the Trout Unlimited annual meeting in Bozeman, MT.
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.
Five hundred miles. That’s a pretty significant distance, right? Now, imagine swimming that far.
That’s how many river miles will re-opened to native steelhead in the Klamath River under the terms of a revised agreement between the federal government, the states of California and Oregon, and the utility company PacifiCorp.
The amended Klamath Hydropower Settlement Agreement, and the Klamath Power and Facilities Agreement were signed today at the mouth of the Klamath River by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., of California, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon and PacifiCorp CEO Stefan Bird.
Under the new-and-improved KHSA, four old, unproductive hydropower dams on the Klamath River will be removed beginning in the year 2020. This action will open up 500 miles of habitat for steelhead and some 420 miles for salmon.