Help for fish ordered on Yuba River
03/02/2012 7 Comments
Matt Weiser has the story in the Sac Bee
Federal wildlife officials have ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon are able to surmount its two dams on the Yuba River.
The National Marine Fisheries Service, in a biological opinion released late Wednesday, concludes that Daguerre Point and Englebright dams threaten the survival of the fish species. The order does not require dam removal, but that is one potential outcome.
“This is a big step forward for Yuba salmon recovery,” said Steve Rothert, California director of American Rivers, a group that has been involved in salmon restoration efforts on the river. “The idea of getting fish past Englebright Dam opens up many possibilities.”
The two dams provide no water supply or flood control benefits. Their primary purpose is a historical one: to store erosion and other debris washed downstream by long-ceased gold mining practices.
You can read the rest of the story HERE.
Having studied the salmon issues when writing my Cobalt book, there are some issues that need to be addressed. On the Columbia river there are fish ladders to allow the salmon and steelhead to pass, but the real problem is when the fry are returning to the sea. The small fry use the current to tell them which direction swim back to the ocean. The dams inhibit the current flow, thus only about 2% actually return to the sea according to a Forest Service expert.
Now that this ruling is in place the pressure will increase for dam removal to provide the needed current. While that would be best for the fish, it raises some other questions for the people who currently use the river for recreation and live on the banks of the river.
If the dams are removed in the next couple of years, what happens to the 75 years of the debris that has collected in the dams including lots of mercury? Will this turn the Yuba in to a Super Fund Clean Up site restricting people access to the river.
What will be the local economic impact, as the lakes are now used for recreation that will be taken away if the dams are removed. While fishing will improve over the years, attracting more fishing visitors to the community, but this will take a long time. The communities that are now relying on the recreation revenue will have to wait, can they survive in the mean time?
If the dams are not taken down, what will be the cost of the capture and transport option, and how effective will it be, given the lack of current to guide the fry returning to the sea? How will the fry be captured in the lake for the return.
I would like to hear your views and insights on solving the above problems.