Fish find spawns debate

Protected steelhead discovered landlocked in Calaveras canal

Record Staff Writer
February 24, 2010 12:00 AM


STOCKTON – Biologists found federally protected steelhead stranded in shallow pools on the Calaveras River, and environmentalists blamed water managers Tuesday for failing to keep the stream flowing so the migratory fish could escape to the ocean.

Stockton East Water District and the National Marine Fisheries Service are years overdue on a fish protection plan that would give Stockton East permission to continue diverting Calaveras water to farms and the city.

Without that plan, environmentalists say Stockton East is in violation of the Endangered Species Act if its operations kill fish.

From the middle of last week through Monday, 43 young steelhead were counted in the Stockton Diverting Canal – a river bypass – near Wilson Way, according to Kari Burr, a consulting biologist who was monitoring the river as part of a Stockton East plan to remove barriers that block migratory fish.

The fish were surviving in as little as 6 inches of water. Three steelhead were dead; 40 were placed in buckets and released downstream near Brookside, Burr said.

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Will you write a Letter to the Editor to the Stockton Record expressing your concern about these stranded steelhead?

A few points to mention are:

  • National Marine Fisheries Service are years overdue on a fish protection plan that would help protect steelhead and give Stockton East the permission it needs to continue diverting water to farms and the City.
  • Steelhead are Federally protected under the Endangered Species Act as a Threatened species, and they need higher flows and fewer barriers in the Calaveras River to make their journey out to sea and back.
  • Hundreds of other fish, while not threatened or endangered, were also found stranded in the Calaveras River. Stockton East should be required to release constant flows that are protective of fish in the Calaveras River.
  • In the year 2009, there were nearly 12,000 outgoing steelhead in the Calaveras River. There should be an increased effort by the City to raise awareness about the importance of the Calaveras River for people, fish, and wildlife!


Jeremy Terhune, Defenders of Wildlife