Conservation Conservation News

Northern California Council Federation Fly Fishers - Conservation Report  (1/12/14)
1.Monitored FERC Relicensing of New Exchequer and McSwain Dams on the Merced River.
2.Opposed HR 934, which would remove Wild & Scenic Status from the Merced River to allow for possible expansion of McClure reservoir by the Merced irrigation district (MID). 
3.Monitored FERC Relicensing of Don Pedro Dam on the Tuolumne River – in particular FERC’s decision on whether a non-FERC dam (La Grange), which blocks salmon and steelhead passage, will be included in the relicensing.  
4.Worked with Environmental Water Caucus (EWC) & Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) to shape a responsible water export plan for California’s San Francisco Bay Delta.
5.Supported Coastal Habitat Education Environmental Restoration (CHEER) Fish Rescue Permitting Issues.
6.Worked with Middle Fork American Working Group & Foothill Anglers Coalition to improve flows in the Middle Fork of the American River.
7.Worked with Trout Unlimited & Cal Trout to achieve fishable flows in all but the wettest years in the McCloud River.
8.Continued seeking Wild & Scenic River status for Tuolumne River above Don Pedro Dam and agreements to allow the return of Salmon & Steelhead below the Dam.
9.Worked with Foothill Anglers Coalition & Nevada Irrigation district for better flows for fish in the Upper Yuba River.
10.Continued monitoring Secretary of Interior decision on removing dams on the Klamath River.
11.Helped craft the language the Department of Fish and Wildlife has accepted providing canopy corridors and road setbacks for California Forestry Practices, including better Timber Harvest Plans – resulting lower runoff into streams.
12.Helped establish a more efficient fish counting system on the Smith River.
13.Actively supported efforts to return anadromous fish to Alameda Creek and Permanente Creek.  Monitored efforts in the San Geronimo Valley habitat legal battles. 
14.Acted as fiscal agent for Striperfest, argued in support of science regarding striped bass predation on listed species vs. the speculation presented by the Delta water export contractors, and supported better management for our fisheries by State and Federal agencies to insure sustainability.
15.Worked with American River Operating Group & Healthy Water Forum to improve river conditions and to improve riparian habitat.

Do you ever wonder why our fisheries are in constant decline??

By Mike McKenzie

Here's why! In spite of all our efforts (fighting law suits, fighting against phoney science with regard to predation by striped bass, fighting reg change proposals that would further decimate our striped bass fishery) all our fisheries populations are sinking at a steady rate. The below release details the abject failure of those agencies with the responsibilities of maintaining public trust resources and why our fisheries are crashing.

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Steelhead Restoration in Palo Alto

PALO ALTO -- The hard-luck steelhead trout of San Francisquito Creek will have one less obstacle to surmount once the storms of winter set the stage for their annual spawning runs.

A construction team has removed a century-old concrete barrier from a section of the creek in El Palo Alto Park on the Palo Alto-Menlo Park border, restoring the streambed to a more natural course. The roughly 40-foot-wide structure, known as a weir, had acted at times as a dam, trapping the federally threatened fish on either side.

Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, joined a throng of government officials and local conservationists Thursday for a celebration of the project's 
Gordon Becker of the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration, checks the temperature of the water along San Francisquito Creek in Menlo Park, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Becker was among those who attended an event headed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to celebrate the removal of a fish-passage barrier known as a Bonde weir at this spot on San Francisquito Creek which will now improve access to the spawning habitat for migrating native steelhead trout, a federally-threatened species. (Gary Reyes/Bay Area News Group)
completion. The $309,400 initiative is among 48 projects to receive more than $28 million in funding from the EPA since 2008 to protect and restore San Francisco Bay.

"Small things can make a really big difference," said Blumenfeld, noting the weir removal will enable steelhead to gain better access to many miles of habitat, particularly on the Los Trancos Creek and Bear Creek tributaries.

The barrier was built long ago to support a two-story retaining wall that prevents the southern bank of the creek from eroding. The wall bolsters two bridges that cross the creek, one for pedestrians and the other for Caltrain, and protects the root system of "El Palo Alto," the historic redwood from which the city of Palo Alto derived its name.

Crews under the leadership of the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District replaced the weir with rocks and boulders that will keep the retaining wall secure while allowing steelhead to move much farther into the San Francisquito Creek watershed, which empties from the Santa Cruz Mountains above Woodside and Portola Valley into the bay.

Central California Coast steelhead were once abundant in ocean and bay streams from Sonoma County to Santa Cruz, but their numbers plunged in the 20th century due to habitat degradation. San Francisquito is deemed an "anchor habitat" for the species, whose population in bayside streams has been decimated.

The segment of San Francisquito Creek at El Palo Alto Park is mostly dry now, but it swells once winter storms arrive. The weir had its greatest impact during low to moderate flows, blocking adult steelhead charging up the creek to spawn and trapping juvenile fish making their way down to the bay.

There is still more that can be done to help the steelhead here, said Jerry Hearn, a Portola Valley resident who has been working on restoring the San Francisquito watershed for two decades. The biggest obstacle remains Searsville Dam in Stanford University's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. The university, beset by an environmental lawsuit, is studying whether to remove or modify the dam.

Hearn, 68, said it is gratifying to see the weir torn away some decades after he and fellow conservationists first proposed it. Just a little boost, he said, can mean a lot to the dogged steelhead.

"The fish can get astoundingly far up those canyons," he said. "It's all about energy expenditure as you go upstream."

Contact Aaron Kinney at 650-348-4357. Follow him at

Report on the Predation Science Workshop
July 22 & 23, 2013, at UC Davis / by John Beuttler
David Ostrach and I attended both days of the Predation Workshop. Overall, we found the format to inform the Science Panel regarding predation in the estuary on salmonids (salmon and steelhead) to be a very trying and an exclusive process. David and I were able to make comments during the public comment period at the end of the Workshop each day. We were each allocated 3 minutes to provide our statements. Except for the public comments, those who attended were not permitted to ask questions of the Science Panel or those who presented information to the Panel.

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NCCFFF Steelhead Committee Update

By Dougald Scott, Steelhead Committee Chair

New NCCFFF Steelhead Policy At its December 1st meeting, the NCCFFF Board adopted an official Steelhead Policy. “The goals are to preserve wild steelhead genetic diversity and restore wild California steelhead populations to levels approximating historical abundance through habitat restoration, restrictions of sports harvest until wild populations recover, modification of hatchery practices, and in some instances, discontinuation of hatchery supplementation.” The new policy is based on established FFF Steelhead Policy but is tailored to more closely meet the special needs of California steelhead.

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