The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced the availability of over $200 million in new funding for multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects under Drought, Climate and Nature-Based Solutions Initiatives. Included in this new funding is $100 million to help salmon runs mitigate drought impact in 2023.
The $100 million will support restoration and protection projects that enhance salmon resiliency to drought and climate change. $20 million of this funding will go to Klamath River Watershed projects in collaboration with tribes and landowners. Up to $10 million will be available for the Scott River and another $10 million will go to the Shasta River.
“The time to act is right now because California’s ecosystems face dire conditions for our species,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This funding is absolutely the push we all need to put some largescale projects across the finish line.”
The grant will also fund “nature-based solutions” to drought like wetlands and wildlife corridors. Another $35 million in grants will go to climate change initiatives like purchasing water to benefit wildlife, protecting instream flows, building water conservation projects and implementing emergency restoration activities.
Salmon are spawned in the waterways of NorCal and make the long journey to the ocean, where they live for 3 to 5 years. After they’re fully grown, they’ll make the long journey up the river to their spawning grounds, where they’ll spawn baby salmon of their own. The local rivers were once crowded with these massive fish, but due to the construction of dams and drought, the fish have dwindled to a small amount of survivors.
Under the current salmon management program, salmon are spawned released directly under the fish hatchery to attempt the arduous journey down the river into the Pacific Ocean. Due to worsening drought issues, the survival rates of these fish have been abysmal in recent years, raising questions of altering the current management program.
It remains unclear exactly where this money will be spent, but let’s hope the state isn’t just throwing money at the issue and rather thinking about new ways to protect salmon moving into the future.