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Brian Johnson, TU California Director, says, "These catastrophic salmon returns were triggered by the recent drought, but they are caused by decades of bad decisions by the state and federal government. If the drought taught us anything, it’s that we need to restore river habitat faster and better, and to dramatically improve our management of water to ensure adequate flows of cold, clean water when salmon need it most."
In 2009, the Sonoma RCD, working with the Sonoma County Water Agency, contacted the landowners to discuss a possible fish passage design, to be developed by Prunuske Chatham, Inc., a Sebastopol-based environmental consulting firm specializing in watershed rehabilitation. But in 2010, the landowners declined to go forward, uncomfortable with the scale of construction, months of heavy equipment and access roads and the potential loss of their drinking water.
The project found new life in 2013, as PCI Geomorphologist Lauren Hammack explains, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Trout Unlimited, a nonprofit grassroots organization working to restore and protect salmon and trout habitat, and PCI renewed contact and asked the creekside residents to reconsider. “To everyone’s immense gratitude,” Mary Ann King, director of Trout Unlimited’s Coastal Streamflows Restoration Project, says, they did.
Crews in Shasta County help rescue stranded fish along the Sacramento River
Taking out the Rindge Dam may be expensive, but it’s not providing any benefit to people any longer, and it continues to impact the ecology and water quality of Malibu Creek — once home to one of the strongest runs of Southern Steelhead. It’s hard to put a price tag on our natural capital. What we do know, once an iconic species winks out and a creek is reduced to a hexagonal flood control channel with a parking lot over it, is that capital can no longer provide as profitable a return.
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