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Uncertainty Over How Recent Storms Impacted Salmon Population

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The massive amounts of water that hit California last week could have either beneficial or disastrous effects on salmon populations, depending on who you ask.

John McManus, executive director for the Golden Gate Salmon Association, sees the flood waters as a benefit.

He says he expects to see large salmon runs in the coming two years.

"And the reason why is the heavy rains in the Central Valley are basically creating quite a bit of fish habitat for baby salmon that are out there right now and it really helps them grow," McManus says. "It helps them feed, it helps them stay away from predators and they survive at much, much higher rates."

Aquatic Ecologist Eric Ettlinger with the Marin Municipal Water District does not see it that way.

He says spawning grounds were hit hard in his coastal watershed.

"Overall, I would say that these big floods have a net-negative effect on salmon and I haven't seen things improve down the line because of it," Ettlinger says.

Both Ettlinger and McManus say it will take a while before they'll have solid evidence as to how the populations were truly affected.