Salmon Thrive In Yolo Bypass Experiment

Courtesy of Carson Jeffres
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Local researchers say Sacramento Valley rice fields could help rebuild California's dwindling populations of chinook salmon.

Scientists say their experiment of putting young salmon into flooded rice fields is a success.  

"We found that the fish grew at remarkable rates out there, the fastest that we've ever seen fish grow in the Central Valley."

Carson Jeffres is with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. He conducted the experiment along with researchers from the state and from the group California Trout.

Jeffres explains, the goal was to find out whether the fields, if flooded between harvests, could act as substitutes for now-depleted wetlands where juvenile salmon develop.  

"There's a lot of bugs that grow when you put water out on these rice fields. And so, just by putting water out on the rice fields you have a very productive food web that these fish are able to utilize."

The experiment took place in the Yolo Bypass, which diverts floodwaters from Sacramento. Jeffres and the other researchers have submitted their findings to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

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