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Higher Than Expected Number Of Chinook Salmon Return To American River

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

It appears this is an average year for the number of fall-fun Chinook Salmon returning to spawn in the American River.

The numbers were expected to be much lower because of high water temperatures and predators when the fish were juveniles heading to the ocean during the drought.

Efforts to help salmon populations in recent years include releases of cold water during the beginning and end of the salmon's life cycle and the rehabilitation of 30 acres of American River spawning ground with 100,000 tons of gravel.

Laura Drath with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the daily reports show the numbers of returning salmon are on par with an average year.

"It is still early on," Drath said. "Our numbers are based on counting not only the fish that come up the fish ladder but also how many are counted in the carcass surveys throughout the winter that gives us the in-river return."

This year's count does not include a number of Sacramento River salmon that came up the American River.

Tom Gohring is with a group of water agencies, environmentalists, anglers and business groups called the Sacramento Water Forum.

"It appears those are Coleman Fish Hatchery fall-run that were hatched in the Sacramento River Basin at Battle Creek but they were trucked down to the mouth of the Delta to skip that danger zone and so they haven't been imprinted to return where they are supposed to be."

Fish and Wildlife has collected 2.4 million Sacramento River salmon eggs and will ship them to the Coleman Fish Hatchery.

The Nimbus Fish Hatchery releases about four million smolt down the American River every year. An average of 48,000 return two-to-four years later.

The Sacramento Water Forum has made a proposal to the Army Corps of Engineers to hold more cold water in Folsom Lake to help fish downstream in future years.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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