Our Executive Director, Dr. Sari Sommarstrom, recently gave a panel talk in Sacramento at a Legislative information hearing on the topic, “Coho Salmon on the Brink: Understanding the Depth of the Crisis and Recovery Strategies.” The hearing was sponsored by the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture: http://asmdc.org/members/a01 Sari’s powerpoint can be found on this Water Trust webpage. Below is the Summary which was presented as a handout:
The Scott River still supports a natural run of coho salmon, often one of the best in CA.
- The 2010 adult coho run size was 927 fish (via video weir counts by CDFG), which is the good brood year. Historic estimates before 1965 were 800 to 2,000 coho.
- Two weak brood years (’08 and ’09) produced less than 100 adults.
- The Scott’s run appears to be much larger than other natural coho runs in CA in one out of three years (2007 and 2010).
- Less than a decade of good data does not allow trend analysis or prediction.
The Scott River Water Trust became the first water trust in California in 2007 as a win/win tool.
- Water leases are a useful voluntary tool to help immediate flow needs in coho streams.
- Criteria for choosing streams for additional flows target potential coho rearing habitat using long-term data, field experience, and project monitoring.
- Scott River coho restoration checklist shows significant progress in almost all areas.
The SWRCB’s Division of Water Right’s instream process under Water Code 1707 is too cumbersome and expensive to make voluntary instream dedications worthwhile.
- It took the Water Trust two years and $30,000 just to add “instream” as a beneficial use to one water right.
- The uncertain process lumps small water transfers in streams where coho reside with large water transfers, such as through the Bay-Delta.
Beaver ponds provide excellent coho habitat and water storage for free yet are not supported by CDFG policy.
- CDFG’s hunting regulations and depredation policy encourage removal of beaver.
- State Coho Recovery Strategy does not actively support beaver pond restoration.
- Promote systematic, annual coho population data for representative coho streams.
- Data needed on adult spawners, redd locations, downstream migrants, rearing sites.
- Sustain current data collection and reporting efforts by CDFG on the Scott River.
- CDFG should determine freshwater and marine survival rates for each brood year in each major coho stream in the State.
- Let good data and analysis lead us to our conclusions and actions. Ask for evidence when assertions are made about cause and effect related to coho.
- Support ways to improve the SWRCB’s water rights process for instream transfers in coho streams.
- Ask SWRCB to develop a separate process for small instream transfers within watersheds having threatened salmonid populations.
- Provide for a Categorical Exemption under CEQA for small instream transfers.
- CDFG needs to have a beaver management policy that is coho-friendly yet reasonable when conflicts arise.