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Salmon Sweating It Out in Sacramento River
Since the water temperature standards to preserve fisheries in the Sacramento River have been relaxed spawning success will likely be much less this year.
As of noon on the 30th of August the water temperature at Jelly's Ferry was 57.2 F. which is 1.2 degrees warmer than the desired top limit of 56F. As the water temperature increases the survival of salmon eggs and fry decreases. The eggs that do survive produce smaller, weaker fry that have less chances of survival. Thus the spawning habitat has essentially been reduced to the river north of Balls Ferry.
This years decision to allow warmer water to flow in the Sacramento is not good because numbers of juvenile chinook salmon passing the Red Bluff Diversion have been in steady decline since 2006.
The Sacramento River was once famous for its four runs of chinook salmon but now the winter run is endangered and the spring run is threatened with extinction. Unless two breeding sub-populations of chinook are establish above Shasta Dam soon in their former spawning habitat, we will lose two runs. Keep in mind that before Shasta Dam was built there were over 200 more miles of spawning streams available to the chinooks. Now they are lucky to have 45 miles in a good year.