U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) this week introduced H.R. 2705, establishing a pilot program on the Stanislaus River to protect native salmon and steelhead fish populations.
“Through the work of fishery agencies and the broader scientific community, it has become clear predator fish are greatly impacting the recovery of salmon and steelhead fish on the Stanislaus River,” said Rep. Denham in a press release. “This pilot program will help us take action to save the threatened native fish and advance our collective knowledge of controlling non-native predator fish in California. It’s absurd to keep spending millions to try and save native fish while non-natives devour nearly the entire population.”
The program would be jointly conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID) and the South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID). It would also be scientifically-based, developed in consultation with federal and state fish agencies and include a rigorous monitoring and reporting program. The measure requires the OID and SSJID to pay for the cost of the pilot program and produce a peer reviewed document at the conclusion of the program recommending best practices for additional efforts on the Stanislaus River and other streams in California.
The National Marine Fisheries Service’s 2009 Draft Recovery Plan for salmon and steelhead found predation on juveniles to be one of the most important specific stressors. The plan stated that reducing the abundance of non-native predator fish was necessary to “prevent extinction or to prevent the species from declining irreversibly.” Indeed, NMFS even asked the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2010 “to consider proposed regulations directed at reducing, to the extent practicable, the effects of the nonnative species on federally listed anatropous species in California, especially the Central Valley.”
In a workshop conducted by the State Water Resources Control Board last year, the Department of Water Resources found that “research clearly indicates that predation plays a large role in the survival rates of out-migrating juvenile salmon.”
The pilot program will take place solely on the Stanislaus River and last for five years.
Representative Denham’s district includes both Oakdale and South San Joaquin districts. For more information on the project, visit http://www.oakdaleirrigation.com and http://www.ssjid.com.