The dry winter of 2022 will be felt by humans throughout California this year. Water usage limits are already in effect as officials attempt the insurmountable task of keeping water in local lakes. There will also surely be a dangerous wildfire season that will cause rolling blackouts and loss of property.
But humans aren’t the only ones who will feel the impacts of this drought. Salmon runs are once again in danger of seeing incredible losses, and wildlife officials are ready to take unprecedented action to save them.
The Coleman National Fish Hatchery has announced they will release spring run Chinook salmon into Clear Creek this year instead of the Sacramento River in order to mitigate catastrophic losses caused by the warming river.
“In a normal year, spring Chinook salmon are captured as a by-catch at Keswick Dam when we collect winter Chinook salmon,” said the fish hatchery in a statement. “Typically these fish are released back into the Sacramento River to spawn naturally.”
“However, this year is different. Instead of returning spring Chinook salmon to the Sacramento River the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is transporting spring Chinook salmon from Livingston Stone NFH and releasing them into the upper section of Clear Creek below Whiskeytown Dam. As a result of the drought, the Sacramento River is expected to reach temperatures that will be lethal to salmon and eggs later this summer. The fish are being moved into Clear Creek where cool water should persist throughout the summer and the fish and their offspring will have a chance at survival.”
The unprecedented actions taken by wildlife officials show the desperation to help restore the troubled salmon runs in Northern California. Fish hatcheries have voiced their fears of the warming rivers throughout the region, which is a deadly recipe for juvenile salmon. With shrinking waterways and warming waters, it remains unclear if we can keep these historic salmon runs thriving in our communities.