New Video Highlights Fish Research on Big Chico Creek in Advance of Bidwell Park 5K Salmon Run

Video and community event celebrate the importance of Big Chico Creek to health of salmon and rainbow trout.

April 22, 2015

Contact: Gabe Kopp, Operations Director, (530) 892-9686 or gabekopp@fishbio.com

CHICO, CA – Big Chico Creek is a special place for many Chico residents – including threatened salmon and steelhead that call the creek home. But prior to 2013, no information about the creek’s resident fish population had been collected in more than a decade. A new video highlights the efforts of FISHBIO, a Chico-based fisheries consulting company, to survey this iconic local waterway in 2013 and 2014.

Entitled “Big Value In Small Streams – Giving Back to Big Chico Creek,” the seven-minute svideo explains that while the small creek supports modest-sized fish populations, such habitats are important to preserve pockets of fish genetic diversity. Having a diversity of traits to from which to draw makes fish species more resilient and allows them to cope in uncertain times, such as the current drought.

Big Chico Creek is home to a population of resident rainbow trout, which live in the creek year round, as well as a threatened, sea-going form of the same fish called a steelhead, which migrates to the ocean. Spring-run salmon also sporadically return to Big Chico Creek, numbering a few dozen in 2014, and 124 in 2011. The creek also supports other native fishes, including Sacramento sucker, riffle sculpin, and California roach, as well as introduced species such as brown trout.

The video shows the FISHBIO team diving into the creek’s clear waters to count fish using snorkel gear. Although the survey has only taken place for two years, the scientists noticed differences between 2014 and the previous summer: flows were lower, the water was warmer, and fewer native trout were observed. These findings underscore the importance of regularly monitoring the health of fish populations to track their trends over time. FISHBIO has donated the time and effort needed to complete the survey for the past two summers, and hopes to do the same this year.

The release of the video coincides with another part of the company’s effort to give back to Big Chico Creek – the second annual 5K Salmon Run in Bidwell Park on May 2. FISHBIO is hosting the family-friendly fun run to help spotlight the importance of the creek and its fish to the Chico community.

The Salmon Run will cover a scenic 5-km (3.1-mile) loop through Bidwell Park along Big Chico Creek. Check-in begins at 1-Mile Recreation Area at 7:45 a.m., and the run/walk will start at 8:30 a.m. Registration is $25 for adults and $20 for those 18 and under. Participants can register online (www.fishbio.com/race) or at FISHBIO’s office at 180 East 4th Street, Suite 160.

The Salmon Run kicks off a day of events at the Endangered Species Faire, which is hosted by the Butte Environmental Council. In preparation for the event, FISHBIO staff recently visited Chapman and Parkview elementary schools in Chico to present lessons on rivers and fish as part of the company’s Three Rivers Education Program. FISHBIO staff also helped students create fish puppets for the Faire’s Procession of the Species, including a slightly-larger-than-life Mekong Giant Catfish inspired by FISHBIO’s international work in Laos.

The Big Chico Creek fish surveys and the Salmon Run are part of FISHBIO’s commitment to the local community. “Big Chico Creek is iconic – when people think of Chico, they think of the creek and Bidwell Park,” said Doug Demko, FISHBIO’s president and long-time Chico resident. “We want to celebrate this resource that makes Chico special, and recognize the important role it plays in protecting the health of salmon and steelhead populations in the North State.”

About FISHBIO: FISHBIO is a fisheries and environmental consulting company with offices in Chico and Oakdale, Calif., and Vientiane, Laos. FISHBIO is dedicated to advancing the research, monitoring, and conservation of fishes around the world.

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