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Russian River Low Flow Curtailments Considered at CDFW Meeting

To All,

This article on low flow closures was published by the Ukiah Daily Journal on July 27, 2014.

Larry

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold a public
meeting Thursday to discuss a proposed low-flow closure change to the
Russian River and North Central Coast streams.

The Gualala Community Center on Center Street will host the meeting
July 31, from 3 to 6 p.m.

Fish and Wildlife staff will spend time discussing the regulation
change proposal, and then those in attendance who wish to comment will
be allowed to do so. A final recommendation will be made to the Fish
and Game Commission at a meeting in Van Nuys in December, according to
a CDFW press release.

The proposal is to add a low-flow fish restriction to the Russian
River because of the impact of drought conditions to local fisheries
that have occurred in recent years, the press release stated.

The river is the habitat of coastal Chinook salmon, Coho salmon and
Steelhead trout. All three fish species are listed under the federal
Endangered Species Act, while the Coho are also listed under the
California ESA, the press release stated.

“We are trying to bring the Russian River in line with other coastal
streams who have low-flow closures,” said Ryan Watanabe, fisheries
biologist with Fish and Wildlife.

After the past two winters, the department has found the salmon
entering these streams were forced to congregate in larger bodies of
water within the rivers. The concern is that fishermen could easily
harvest the congregating fish out of the deeper areas of the
waterways, according to the press release and proposed emergency
regulatory action by the Fish and Game Commission.

Also, there is an expected decrease in fish eggs and younger fish
within these systems as drought conditions continue to have an impact,
according to proposed emergency regulatory action by the Fish and Game
Commission.

Russian River and North Central coastal streams have remained open to
fishing after an emergency closure, that was enacted by the Fish and
Game Commission in February, expired at the end of April, according to
the press release.

“We are early in the regulation process,” Watanabe said. “This will
probably be like a year process, so the sooner we start, the sooner we
can get regulations in place.”

Adam Randall

Written comments may be sent by email to
ryan.watanabe@wildlife.ca.gov, or by mail to CDFW, Bay Delta Region,
Attn. Ryan Watanabe, 5355 B Skylane Dr. Santa Rosa, CA. 95403.