21 government agencies -- and others -- agree to protect salmon
August 29, 2017
• Partnership to support recovery of Central Valley salmon and steelhead
• Hope to return native fish to self-sustaining levels
Twenty-one state and federal offices along with environmental groups, farmers and fishermen have agreed to work together to try to save Central Valley salmon and steelhead trout.
They have formed what they call the “Central Valley Salmon Habitat Partnership.”
“The successful recovery of any threatened species requires cooperation from many parties,” says California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird. “I’m confident that the remarkable range of stakeholders working together … bodes well for the future of salmon and steelhead in the Central Valley.”
Central Valley rivers and their tributaries have been, historically, the second most productive region for salmon on the West Coast (not including Alaska). However, native salmon runs and steelhead populations have declined drastically here. Today, two of the four distinct runs of Central Valley Chinook salmon, as well as steelhead, are listed as threatened or endangered.
These fish migrate between inland rivers and streams and the ocean for different parts of their lives. In the process, they face challenges including blocked access to spawning grounds, a lack of cold water at critical times of year, a dramatic reduction in a variety of habitat types such as wetlands and floodplains, and predation.
Quality habitat is vital for providing food and shelter for young salmon to grow, and for adult salmon to spawn. The Partnership is expected to use its combined expertise to improve salmon habitat and support widespread recovery of Central Valley salmon and steelhead.
Its first order of business will be to identify, find funding for, and execute the best opportunities to improve salmon habitat, it says.
The group is modeled after the highly successful Central Valley Joint Venture, through which a similar group of stakeholders has been working for decades to recover native and migratory bird populations. Partnership members provide expertise on a broad range of issues, from scientific study to securing permits for habitat restoration.
“This group will take meaningful, decisive action to restore the types of habitat – in the right places – that these fish need to survive and even thrive,” says Curtis Knight, executive director of the conservation group California Trout.
“There have been significant efforts over the past decade to improve conditions for viable salmon — the collaboration through the Partnership will build on these efforts and help align priority actions for salmon recovery in the Central Valley. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and make this happen,” says David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association.
By approaching habitat restoration in a collaborative, outcomes-based manner, the Partnership hopes to see meaningful improvement in habitat conditions relatively quickly. An implementation plan will highlight measurable, geographically-specific goals within a set timeframe to improve the prospects of these fish.
Because both public agencies and private organizations are currently involved in habitat restoration, this unified approach ensures that the most important projects will be implemented first, maximizing the opportunities for these native fish to recover and thrive, the group says.
“I’m hopeful that although we may not always agree on water decisions we can all work together to restore some of the river bank, side channel, and floodplain habitats in the Central Valley which are crucial to rearing baby salmon,” says John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association.