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Protect Smith River From Mining

US_199_along_Smith_River

Check out this great link on protecting California’s/Oregon’s Smith River from mining.

From Trout Unlimited and Wild Steelheader:

 

Tell the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to protect salmon and steelhead streams in southwest Oregon and northern California  from large-scale strip mines

 What’s the issue?

Two companies, (one foreign owned) have been working to develop surface strip nickel mines in an area that would threaten Rough and Ready Creek (a tributary to the Illinois River and world famous Rogue river) and Bald Face Creek (a tributary to the North Fork Smith and big native steelhead producing Smith river). Other important rivers threatened by proposed mining operations include Hunter Creek and Pistol River. 

These mines would sprawl over thousands of acres, putting both land and water resources at high risk.

Sportsmen and other stakeholders from both California and Oregon have expressed strong opposition to the idea of yet another major mining mess to clean up and in response, members of Congress from each state have introduced bills to permanently protect the areas in question.

However, those bills could take years to become law. In the meantime, the BLM has proposed a temporary withdrawal of the area from new mineral claims. But the agency needs to hear that sportsmen support the mineral withdrawal.

 

Dried-Up Reservoir Reveals Dead Fish In Lassen County

Photo by California Department of Water Resources

Photo by California Department of Water Resources

The California drought took out another bunch of victims in Northern California’s Lassen County.

Redding’s ABC affiliate KRCR had the details:

People in the town of Westwood in Lassen County are looking for answers after the Mountain Meadows Reservoir became almost dry this week.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said between hundreds and thousands of fish died, but it’s hard to estimate an exact number. …

The dam is owned by PG&E and permitted with CDFW to control water flows and protect local fish.

The reservoir is a shallow lake and fluctuates frequently throughout the year, but only dropped even lower due to the current ongoing drought. …

CDFW said by the time they were notified of this issue and came out to investigate, the damage was already done and the reservoir was practically dry.

 

 

Ducks Unlimited Releases 2015 Waterfowl Forecast

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife

 

Ducks Unlimited released its 2015 waterfowl forecasts, including the Pacific Flyway.

Here’s DU’s California forecast:

In California, populations of mallards and total ducks were well below their long-term averages, and poor waterfowl production was expected in this state. Drier wetland conditions also prevailed across much ofOregon and Washington this spring, but duck populations remained similar to last year’s estimates and their long-term averages in these states.

So it goes in drought- and fire-afflicted California.

 

Sierra Snowpack Hits Historically New Low

Photo by Chris Cocoles

Photo by Chris Cocoles

 

Newsweek provided this rather depressing story about the historically low Sierra snowpack.

From the magazine:

In April this year, the annual measurement of the Sierra Nevada mountains’ snowpack in California brought startling results: There was no snow at all. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the average depth of snow in the measurement spot at Phillips Station, about 90 miles east of Sacramento, had been 66.5 inches. A new report published online Monday in Nature Climate Change finds that the snowpack level in 2015 was the lowest in five centuries.

“Our study really points to the extreme character of the 2014-15 winter. This is not just unprecedented over 80 years—it’s unprecedented over 500 years,” Valerie Trouet, an associate professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, says in the university’s press release.

The snowpack, which is usually at its peak at the start of April, is an accumulation of winter precipitation that slowly melts during warmer months to replenish streams, lakes, groundwater and reservoirs. According to the University of Arizona report, California gets 80 percent of its precipitation during the winter, and the snowpack accounts for 30 percent of its water supply.

“Snow is a natural storage system,” Trouet said. “In a summer-dry climate such as California, it’s important that you can store water and access it in the summer when there’s no precipitation.” This year’s low was the result of scant winter precipitation and high temperatures between January and March. The drought that began in California in 2012 has been called the worst in over a millennium, and researchers have predicted that the future holds even more severe “megadroughts.”

That’s a very sobering thought.

More Wildfires Terrorizing Northern California

 

 

 

Wildfire season is far from over, unfortunately. Drought-stricken California continues to take a beating, including devastating blazes in Napa County and the Sierras.

From the Asscociated Press:

A second massive blaze, less than 200 miles away, destroyed 135 homes as it spread through Amador and Calaveras counties in the Sierra Nevada. That fire was 30 percent contained.

Both fires have displaced 23,000 people, Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said at a news conference Monday. He says one person died in the wildfire about 20 miles north of the famed Napa Valley, and others are unaccounted for, but didn’t have further details.

The fire exploded in size within hours as it chewed through brush and trees parched from four years of drought, destroying 400 homes, two apartment complexes and 10 businesses since igniting Saturday, Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynn Valentine said. By Monday morning, crews had gained 5 percent containment of the 95-square-mile blaze.

Residents fled from Middletown, a town of more than 1,000 residents, dodging smoldering telephone poles, downed power lines and fallen trees as they drove through billowing smoke. Several hundred people spent Sunday night at the Napa County Fairgrounds and awoke to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and doughnuts.

Evacuees milled around eating, picking up donated clothing and walking their dogs. Nancy O’Byrne, 57, was evacuated from her home in Middletown, but it’s still standing.

“I am very, very, very lucky. I have my house,” she said, her dog Nellie at her side. …

East of Fresno, the largest wildfire in the state continued to march away from the Sierra Nevada’s Giant Sequoia trees, some of which are 3,000 years old, fire spokesman Dave Schmitt said. The fire, which was sparked by lightning on July 31, has charred 211 square miles and was 36 percent contained Sunday, the U.S. Forest Service said.

 

 

 

 

 

Klamath Spit Salmon Fishing Winding Down

Photo by Green Water Fishing Adventures

Photo by Green Water Fishing Adventures

Northern California’s Klamath Spit fishing will soon be shut down for salmon as the quota nears .

Here’s the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for more:

Anglers have only a few more days to fish for salmon in a popular Humboldt County spot before it closes for the season. Klamath River anglers will have caught their sub-quota of 2,120 adult fall-run Chinook below the Highway 101 bridge by sundown Tuesday, Sept. 15, closing the spit (within 100 yards of the channel through the sand spit formed at the Klamath River mouth) to fishing one hour after dark.

Only the mouth of the river is affected by this closure. Fishing downstream of the Highway 101 Bridge in the estuary will be unaffected until the lower river quota of 7,067 adult fall-run Chinook over 22 inches is met. Once that number is met, anglers will still be able to fish but will have to release any Chinook over 22 inches. The lower Klamath River tally is currently at 2,687 salmon caught.

The Klamath River above the confluence with the Trinity River will remain open until 2,403 adult Chinook are caught.

The quota on the Trinity River is 2,332 adult Chinook from the confluence with the Klamath River up to Cedar Flat, and 2,332 adult Chinook from Cedar Flat up to the Old Lewiston Bridge.

Anglers may keep track of the status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling 1 (800) 564-6479.

 

Tragic American River Hatchery Trout Die-Off

American River Hatchery suffered a die-off about 155,000 trout. (CDFW)

American River Hatchery suffered a die-off about 155,000 trout. (CDFW)

Tragedy at the American River Hatchery: warm water temperatures caused by a failed cooling system killed more than 150,000 hatchery trout.

Here’s the California Department of Fish and Wildlife with more:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working to keep hundreds of thousands of trout alive at the American River Hatchery after warm water temperatures killed approximately 155,000 trout Tuesday.

A chiller that cools water at the hatchery about 18 miles east of Sacramento unexpectedly failed Tuesday, and warm temperatures killed most of the Eagle Lake species of trout being raised at the hatchery. Failure of the hatchery equipment may be related to work by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which owns the hatchery, but the exact cause is not clear and is under investigation. Hatchery staff is working to get a least one chiller working again, which could drop the water temperature – now approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit – by five degrees, enough to help sustain the remaining trout in the hatchery.

Additional losses are expected because of stress to the fish and continuing elevated water temperatures.

Loss estimates as of Sept. 9, by species:

  • 155,000 of the 199,313 (78%) of Eagle Lake trout
  • 300 of the 61,839 (0.5%) of Shasta trout
  • Five of the 230,000 Lahontan cutthroat trout

Though this fish kill means that CDFW likely will not be able to stock streams and lakes at an ideal level in the Sacramento region next year, all trout at the American River Hatchery were not lost. CDFW will seek ways to supplement the trout produced at its hatcheries to increase angling opportunities next year.

Rough Fire Burns Sierra, Creates Unhealthy Air Quality

Image courtesy of NASA

Rough Fire location; Image courtesy of NASA

California is undergoing a pretty wicked heat wave this week (I just got back from the Bay Area, when even normally mild San Francisco was pushing 90 degrees), and the Rough Fire that’s burning around Kings Canyon National Park is creating quite unhealthy air in the already blazing hot San Joaquin Valley.  The fire had been threatening to reach 100,000 burned acres, so smoke that’s headed to the valley floor will affect some people around Fresno/Clovis and Visalia.

From the Fresno Bee:

Air quality authorities advised people to stay inside if they smelled smoke – a scent Clovis residents awakened to this past weekend holiday and at the start of the work week.

Soot levels from the Rough fire increased to dangerous levels in Clovis, where the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has a monitor to track pollution levels.

The pollution, known as PM-2.5, is particularly harmful to children, the elderly and people with lung or heart problems. The spike in Clovis was considered to be harmful even for healthy people.

“We were lucky most of the summer because wind conditions prevented this kind of spike,” said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the air pollution control district. “But that has changed. People need to take protective measures.”

Clovis Unified School District said that recesses at all schools were canceled, as well as physical education classes and outdoor activities.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust activities accordingly throughout the week,” said district spokeswoman Kelly Avants.

Clovis Unified athletic directors were monitoring air quality and giving students water breaks every 10 minutes, athletic directors said.

Sierra Unified School District, based in Auberry, took similar protective action.

Janelle Mehling, assistant superintendent of business services, said the smoke “looks like fog.”