Emergency Measures Taken to Help Imperiled Young Salmon in the Mattole
On Sunday, a group of locals, volunteers with Mattole Salmon Group, Mattole Restoration Council and Americorps and Coho Confab attendees took emergency measures to increase habitat for the remaining Chinook salmon and the larger population of Steelhead (aka Rainbow Trout). Floating willow mats were constructed and tied along the bank where some habitat like underwater overhangs and partially submerged logs already existed.
This increased the underwater shade and hiding places for small fish.
This summer in the Mattole River multiple thousands of young Chinook Salmon migrated downstream with the July rains. When they reached the estuary they faced a deadly array of conditions such as unhealthy warmer temperatures, predators and competition from bigger fish. The warmer water temperatures are partially due to a history of careless logging that has triggered numerous landslides, decreasing the capacity of the formerly deep pools and increasing sunlight on the water. This problem is exacerbated when large amounts of water are taken out of the river by residents.
(also see Sohum Parlance)
These stresses appeared to be causing emaciation in the young fish. They would not be able to acclimate to enter the ocean until months later when the fall rains come and breach the river mouth which is closed by a sand bar each summer. Additionally the young fish were not yet acclimated to salt water, so artificially opening the river mouth would not help.
The Mattole Salmon Group tried to get permission from the California Dept. of Fish and Game to net 5,000 of the young fish to be kept in a fish rearing facility until the fall rains arrived. The Dept. of Squish and Maim refused this request claiming that the Mattole Salmon Group would hurt more fish than would be helped.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries biologists had said they would help relocate the fish if the plan was approved.
One local diver described entering a pool in the river and swimming with an massive school of young fish so thick that you couldn't see the river bottom.
Last week, Mattole Salmon Group divers failed to locate the thousands of young Chinook leading many to believe that over 90% of the young fish have died.
Previous work this year by the Mattole Salmon Group includes the construction of two huge fish habitat structures in the estuary. These are already functioning as refuges for Salmon and Steelhead.
The following is reposted from the Santuary Forest website.
What you can do:
Every water source counts, including all water taken from tributaries and springs that feed the Mattole
Fix Leaks. Leak proof your water storage tank and water system;
Use a tank shut-off valve to keep water from overflowing or use overflow piping that leads back to the stream or river
Reduce watering of garden & landscape: Try dry farming, drip irrigation, mulching, timing of watering, avoid over watering, and drought resistant plants
Reduce household water use
Recycle grey water
Install low flow shower heads and fixtures - Free fixtures available from Mattole Restoration Council (629-3514)
Prepare for even greater conservation measures for the entire month of September:
Stop watering lawns and let them go brown
Stop watering gardens
Share a shower
Reduce or eliminate toilet flushing - use an outhouse - "let it mellow"