Hatchery Salmon, Fattening Up in the Yolo Bypass

A great story of human technology helping the salmon, from the San Francisco Chronicle.

An excerpt.

“Quintupling your weight in six weeks is generally not sound medical advice. Unless, that is, you happen to be a very young Northern California salmon trying to add a few grams on your way down river to the Pacific Ocean.

Back in October, I mentioned a pilot project Metropolitan was helping to fund that was to take place this winter. The idea was to learn more about the potential benefits of increasing the time juvenile salmon can spend on a healthy floodplain. The laboratory was the Yolo Bypass between the cities of Davis and Sacramento.

“Five acres of a stubbled rice field were flooded.  On Jan. 31, approximately 10,000 hatchery Chinook salmon were trucked to the bypass and carefully placed into the murky water.

“They weighed barely more than a gram on average at the time.

“Researchers from UC Davis and the California Department of Water Resources, among others, monitored the field. On March 12, a gate at a corner of the rice field was opened to drain the water with the salmon into a canal that reaches the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the pathway to the Pacific.  But before the gate was opened, researchers captured a sampling of salmon to weigh and measure before their journey toward the Delta and beyond.

“The average weight – 5.27 grams.

“The official conclusion: The salmon were “floodplain fatties.”

“This is good news. Here is a recent presentation with more information. At the moment, salmon spill into the Yolo Bypass from the Sacramento River only when water levels are rather high. Long-range planning is under way to explore how to modify the connection between the river and the Yolo Bypass in order to direct more salmon, more frequently, onto the floodplain….

“There is reason to hope that the Yolo Bypass can successfully grow rice in the summer and salmon in the winter.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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