Thank goodness for the work of the hatchery, which released millions of salmon into the river, as reported by the Sacramento Press.
We need the dams for water and flood protection and since building them, the salmon need us to help them spawn, and as this story notes, we’re doing a pretty good job.
“The first of about 3 million young salmon were released into the American River Thursday, and California Department of Fish and Game officials said they will finish the job Friday. They hope those fish will return to spawn within two to five years.
“They were spawned, hatched and partially raised at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery in Rancho Cordova,” said Dana Michaels, information officer for the Department of Fish and Game.
“About 25 percent of them have coded wire tags in their noses so Fish and Game staff will be able to track how many of them are returning to their native grounds to spawn.
“The goal, Michaels said, is to return the number of fish to their natural levels – levels that have dropped severely since the Gold Rush.
“There used to be millions and millions of salmon before we developed and affected their habitat,” she said. “Our real goal is to improve the return rate. We’d love to get it back to historic numbers.”
“Releasing the fish under the Jibboom Street bridge in the River District has previously been successful and shown the strongest rates of return, but fish are also released in other areas, she added. One of the other areas is the San Francisco Bay, and there are other river locations as well.
“The biggest effects Californians have had on the fish population stem from the building of dams – which blocked their waterways – and mining, which increased silt levels in the rivers and caused them to become shallower.
“Releasing fish into the river is not a new program for the area, said Laura Drath, fish and wildlife interpreter at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery.
“The hatchery was built in 1955, at the same time as the Folsom and Nimbus dams,” she said. “Our mandate is to produce 4 million salmon and 430,000 steelhead trout every year.”
“The hatchery was built by the federal Bureau of Reclamation as a result of about 100 miles of spawning ground being eliminated by the dams’ construction.”