The Department of Wildlife usually plants the river with 70,000 trout. This year it’s putting in half that number. That’s because Truckee River levels are expected to drop. Chris Healy of the Nevada Department of Wildlife says that will make the fish more vulnerable to predators.
“Everybody is trying to eat you out in nature and the fish are not spared from that challenge,” Healy says.
So, the fish are going in now, making this the earliest plant in 20 years. But it’s not ideal because the river is muddy.
"Smaller fish get eaten by fish-eating birds, they get eaten by fish eating fish. It is not going to be totally dry where we loose the fishery. But it is going to be concentrated.”
Healy says the drought has many effects on wildlife and people. It has brought bears into urban areas, leading communities to enact new bear-proof-container ordinances. The Department may also increase the number of hunting licenses for many species to prevent animals from starving because they can’t find enough food.
“And you could see fish die and remember each one of those fish represents a one-dollar bill,” Healy says.
That’s what it costs for the Department to raise the fish. The other 35,000 fish that would normally be planted in the Truckee will instead go to Lake Tahoe and other streams in the Sierra.
Last year, California saw everything from intense drought to torrential rain. Researchers and water agencies say that the future of the state’s drought depends on adapting to these shifts.
As the drought dries up California’s wetlands, traveling birds such as ducks, geese and eagles are struggling to survive and breed. “This drought is bad. The odds are against us,” a state expert said.
Drought resilience depends on location but also extraordinary engineering — determining which California places are running out of water this year and which remain in good shape.
About 4,300 users were issued notices to halt diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Experts say the current drought is hotter and drier than previous ones, meaning water is evaporating faster.
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