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Climate Change May Be Impacting Fish Spawning Numbers


The U.S. Forest Service is trying to understand how fish spawning in streams around Lake Tahoe might be affected by climate change. This is a good year to see some of the impacts.

Every year at this time, thousands of people come to see thousands of Kokanee Salmon spawn in Taylor Creek on Lake Tahoe’s south shore. Among them, visitor Bob Morneau.

“Last year the creek here was really flooded with fish they were spawning, they were jumping and looked like thousands of fish," says Morneau.

This year there are very few fish.

US Forest Service Biologist Sarah Muskopf says low stream flow and warmer water temperatures have reduced the number of non-native Kokanee.

“This year it is kind of a signal of climate change.”

The threatened native Lohontan Cuthroat trout that spawn in spring will have a hard time too.

“It’s kind of like kicking someone when they are down, so these warmer temperatures are definitely going to hit them the most.”

Muskopf says a new stream monitoring system being developed this year may help biologists figure out where to build spawning pools and shady cool spots in streams so fish can cope with the anticipated effects of climate change.