Dammed Disrupted Salmon

First published May 23, 2017

When responding to the urge to spawn, Salmon become a powerful delivery system. If allowed to move freely through rivers and streams, they transport ocean nitrogen and other nutrients thousands of miles inland while providing humans and animals with a rich source of food. They did this successfully until man decided to industrialize their reproduction.

Now billions are spent each year attempting to repair a disrupted cycle of nature.

“In 1851, we could observe a great decrease. Like the poor Indian, they are being driven westward into the sea. During hydraulic mining in the 1870s and 80s the salmon population of California was reduced to near extinction” – C. A. Kirkpatrick reporting on the fate of the salmon

Ocean Fertilizer Transport

Conditions necessary for successful spawning;

  • access to inland rivers and streams
  • cool water temperatures (45° – 58° F)
  • highly oxygenated water
  • correct sized gravel
  • not being eaten

“Salmon and steelhead are indicators of river health, from the headwaters to the ocean, when a watershed is able to support strong salmon and steelhead populations, the entire ecosystem can thrive.” – SRYCL and Partners

“West coast salmon runs have been in decline for decades… Analysts estimate that only 0.1 percent of the tens of millions of salmon that used to darken rivers every summer and fall up and down the west coast before white settlement still exist.” – Scientific American

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Chinook salmon population along the California coast is declining due to;

  • overfishing
  • loss of freshwater habitat
  • loss of estuarine habitat
  • hydropower development
  • poor ocean conditions
  • and hatchery practices

Fish hatchery managed salmon reproduction has weakened the species.

The video below shows numerous corrective attempts that have been made to restore the salmon along the Columbia River.

Salmon Running the Gauntlet  | National Geographic

Deer Creek Salmon Restoration Efforts

April 2017 – 1:29 – A partnership between the South Yuba River Citizens League and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has resulted in leadership and funding for adding spawning gravels to the Yuba River near the confluence with Deer Creek.

Salmon & Steelhead in Deer Creek

“SSI has been monitoring salmon and steelhead in Deer Creek since 2009. From 2011-2013 we implemented three gravel augmentation projects to increase the availability of spawning habitat in Deer Creek, resulting in over a 500% increase in salmon redds observed in Deer Creek in 2013.” – Sierra Streams Institute report

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy Grizzly Entertainment & California Bear Extinction.

click on the image to see more disrupted salmon Life on the Creek art

click on the image to see more disrupted steelhead Life on the Creek art

Resources:

California Fisheries – Yuba River Steelhead
Crow’s Range: An Environmental History of the Sierra Nevada, by David Beesley [KXJZ, Insight interview 35:46]January 2008  – UC Davis panel on Salmon and Tribes – Klamath River System
Native People along rivers have been affected by dams and loss of natural salmon runs.

South Yuba River Citizens League – Species Profile: Rainbow Trout, Steelhead

South Yuba River Citizens League – Yuba Salmon Now

Wikipedia – Chinook salmon

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