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Groups Hopeful Recent Rains Will Help California Salmon

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Yolo Bypass, a flood bypass in the Sacramento Valley located in Yolo and Solano Counties.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A group of farmers, fishery agencies, conservationists, and water suppliers joined together Wednesday to talk about the benefits recent storms have brought to the Sacramento Valley. 

Swollen reservoirs and flooded fields are benefiting fish and wildlife.

The group stood next to the Yolo Bypass in the Sacramento Valley, where water now covers the floodplain. It's providing improved habitat for fish and other wildlife. But it's also an area where endangered salmon can become lost and stranded. 

"A slight upgrade to the infrastructure will allow us to redirect those fish back to the river," says Jacob Katz with California Trout.

California Trout is working with local farmers and water suppliers on a number of projects to improve the fish's chance of survival.

Maria Rea with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it's important. California has lost the last two year classes of winter-run Chinook salmon because of the warm river temperatures in the drought.

"This third cohort that hasn't yet been effected by the drought is beginning to come in through the Golden Gate bridge now, beginning to come up, potentially through the bypass, up through the river, and will spawn this summer, " says Rea. "So we are very excited to see the increases in storage in Shasta associated with the recent rains."

Rea says she believes new tools to predict temperature at Shasta Reservoir will prevent a repeat of the losses of the last two years.

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