Tuesday January 30, 2024

Sierra Magazine

Can a dam help restore a critically endangered coho salmon population in Northern California? 

That sounds like heresy, but Warm Springs Dam, which impedes Dry Creek to create Lake Sonoma, is a source of cool, clean water. These flows may be an essential component of a broad recovery program the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) mandated in 2008.

Dams have been a central reason that Pacific coast salmon populations have plummeted or vanished during the past century, but the Warm Springs Dam, completed 40 years ago for flood control and water storage, isn’t going to be removed anytime soon. So those tasked with trying to rebuild coho runs, from the US Army Corp of Engineers to local water agencies, are making use of the cool water released by the dam.

Salmon, which typically spend a year in their native streams before swimming to the ocean for two years then returning to spawn, like cool water. Most species become susceptible to disease when temperatures rise above 60°F. A problem in Dry Creek, a 14-mile tributary of the Russian River in Sonoma County’s wine region, can be too much water due to mandatory releases—an ironic counterpoint to streams parched by periodic droughts.

Read more >

Link copied successfully