Governor Gavin Newsom has launched California’s first strategy to protect salmon populations in the face of hotter and drier weather caused by climate change. The strategy includes six priorities and 71 actions aimed at building healthier and thriving salmon populations in the state. It focuses on removing barriers and modernizing infrastructure for salmon migration, restoring habitat, protecting water flows, modernizing hatcheries, transforming technology and management systems, and strengthening partnerships. The decline in salmon populations is attributed to factors such as ocean temperatures, dam construction, and water diversions. The strategy also emphasizes strong partnerships with tribal nations, as salmon are central to the traditions and subsistence of California Native Tribes.
California has already invested $796.4 million in state funds over the past three years to protect and restore salmon populations. Some of the actions and investments underway include the removal of hydroelectric dams, relocating salmon to historical habitats, boosting the resilience of hatchery-raised salmon, restoring tidal wetlands, and establishing minimum instream flows in certain rivers. Additionally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has expanded partnerships with tribes and is working to modernize and remove infrastructure to protect and restore native fish populations and their habitats.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: To restore populations of salmon amidst hotter and drier weather exacerbated by climate change, Governor Newsom announced California’s first strategy to protect the iconic fish species for generations to come.
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced new actions and efforts already underway that California is taking to help restore California’s salmon populations.
After 10 years of rapidly intensifying drought and more extreme weather, salmon are not doing well. Last year, with projections showing Chinook salmon population at historic lows, the salmon season was closed and the Newsom Administration requested a Federal Fishery Disaster to support impacted communities. Additionally, due to crashing salmon populations in 2023, some tribes canceled their religious and cultural harvests for the first time ever.
Yesterday, the Governor visited salmon restoration sites in Humboldt County to see how the Salmon Strategy will support communities across the state.
THE STRATEGY: California is working to reverse these trends and save salmon. The state’s Salmon Strategy specifies the six priorities and 71 actions to build healthier, thriving salmon populations in California.
The strategy’s six priorities call for:
- Removing barriers and modernizing infrastructure for salmon migration
- Restoring habitat
- Protecting water flows in key rivers at the right times
- Modernizing hatcheries
- Transforming technology and management systems
- Strengthening partnerships
“Salmon are an integral part of our shared history in California. Some of my youngest memories were of seeing the iconic fish up close with my father when I was growing up – an experience all Californians deserve.
We’re doubling down to make sure this species not only adapts in the face of extreme weather but remains a fixture of California’s natural beauty and ecosystems for generations to come.”
Governor Gavin Newsom
WHY IT MATTERS: Salmon are central to religions, creation stories, the health and subsistence of California Native Tribes, and a multi-million-dollar fishing industry. A multitude of factors have led to a decline in salmon populations, from ocean temperatures to drastic alteration of river habitat and flows by dams and water diversions.
PARTNERING WITH TRIBES: The Salmon Strategy relies on strong partnerships with tribal nations. Tribes and Native communities are driving policy and science critical to rebuilding California’s salmon populations. This strategy builds on existing partnerships in tribally-led restoration work, beaver reintroductions, and returning salmon to their ancestral homes.
ACTIONS & INVESTMENTS UNDERWAY: California is not waiting. The Newsom Administration and Legislature have already spent $796.4 million in state investments over the last three years to protect and restore salmon populations.
Recent actions include:
- Largest Dam Removal in History: Restoring the Klamath River, which was once a prodigious producer of salmon, by removing four obsolete hydroelectric dams. One dam was taken down last September and the rest are slated for removal by November 2024, restoring nearly 400 miles of once-blocked river to salmon, steelhead, lamprey and other native fish species.
- Bringing Fish Back to Historical Habitat: Moving endangered adult winter-run and threatened spring-run Chinook salmon to the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries at the height of the 2020-2022 drought, where colder water temperatures better support spawning and help salmon eggs survive. This effort returned adult winter-run to the North Fork of Battle Creek for the first time in more than 110 years.
- Doing the Science: Boosting the resilience of hatchery-raised salmon with injections of thiamine (Vitamin B) to counter a deficiency that researchers believe has depressed survival of their offspring in recent years. The deficiency has been tied to shifting ocean conditions and salmon feeding primarily on anchovies compared to a more diverse diet of forage fish, krill and other species.
- Fixing the Landscape: Restoring approximately 3,000 acres of tidal wetland where the Sacramento River drains to San Francisco Bay, creating habitat beneficial to native fish and wildlife, including salmon.
- Flows for Fish: In the Scott and Shasta rivers in the Klamath Basin and Mill Creek in the Sacramento Valley, beginning efforts to establish minimum instream flows while working with local partners and tribes on locally driven solutions.
- Expanding Partnerships with Tribes: From signing a co-management agreement with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to bring salmon back to the McCloud River for the first time since construction of Shasta Dam, to investing in tribally led restoration like the Oregon Gulch, Farmers’ Ditch, and post-McKinney fire projects with the Yurok and Karuk Tribes, to beaver reintroductions.
- Modernizing and Removing Infrastructure: Reaching agreement with local and federal partners on a framework to reopen miles of Yuba River habitat to multiple native fish species. The agreement sets the stage for the return of imperiled spring-run Chinook salmon to their native habitat in the North Yuba River for the first time in more than 100 years. And, taking the next big step with a coalition of counties, tribes, and fish conservation groups to create California’s longest free-flowing river – the Eel River – through the decommissioning of outdated infrastructure.
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