Endangered Coho Moved Back Into Central Coast Creek After Fire

The following is courtesy of the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project:

RE: MBSTP will release 6,000 endangered young Coho salmon, evacuated from CZU Complex Fire, back into wild Friday, April 23rd. Hatchery faces steep hurdles to repair fire damages in time to support survival of salmon species and others.

Having lost their hatchery habitat during the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, endangered young Southern Coho salmon, known as smolts, are being released to the wild by the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project (MBSTP), Davenport based 501(c)3. On Friday, April 23rd, 2021 at ~ 9:30 AM 12,000 native salmon smolts that were evacuated during the fire, of the 30,000 total rescued fish, and have managed to survive in emergency temporary tanks in neighboring counties since. Now, 14 months old, these smolts will take part in the Coho salmon migration to the sea. Drought conditions threaten an early closing of access to the ocean; thus, an early release is required. 6,000 of these smolts were set free on April 16. The remaining 6,000 will be released into Scott Creek and begin their journey to the Pacific on Friday morning (Apr. 23), from the Kingfisher Flat Hatchery on Swanton Road in Davenport. 

MBSTP’s carefully curated genetic diversity program is nationally recognized and credited with sparing the Southern Coho from extinction. Its conservation hatchery was severely damaged by the CZU Wildfire where nearly half of the fish perished in the inferno. The effort to restore the hatchery faces steep funding, engineering, and permitting hurdles, along with time constraints as other fish need to be moved back to the hatchery by June, before they outgrow their temporary tanks. 

“The MBSTP hatchery is critical to the recovery of these Southern Coho. The fish, in turn, are critical to the recovery of the burned watershed. Hatchery functions must be repaired and brought online in time to support the survival of this iconic species.  We need all the public, political and financial support we can get to meet the challenge of restoring its infrastructure in time.  The ancient cycle of our native salmon cannot wait. Without sufficient support, the Southern Coho Salmon will become extinct within the next three years” states Mat Rowley, MBSTP Board Chair.