The Bay

New project gives ‘snapshot’ of CA’s wild salmon populations

September 30, 2013

California’s salmon serve as an indicator of the health of watershed and coastal ecosystems. But since peaking in the early 20th century, wild populations have been in decline with seven out of 10 of California’s coastal salmon and steelhead trout species now federally threatened or endangered.

One of the first steps in fish recovery is simply figuring out how many are left and where they are — which is the goal of a new project by the The Nature Conservancy.

Salmon Snapshots” compiles data provided by state and private agencies to centralize salmon information and offer a summary of population numbers and restoration efforts across the state.

“The snapshots demonstrate how important steelhead and salmon are to so many people,” said Kevin Shaffer, environmental program manager at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “These reports provide useful and accessible information that will allow the public to both track the progress of conservation and to appreciate the great diversity of places where these fish and people exist together.”

According to the data, Lagunitas Creek in Marin County boasts some of the highest populations of steelhead trout in the Bay Area with more than 546 wild, adult fish. Meanwhile, Redwood Creek, also in Marin County is home to only eight adult coho salmon.

The Russian River is one of the few places in the Bay Area that is home to populations of steelhead trout, coho and chinook salmon. In addition, the river serves as the ecosystem for one of the highest populations of chinook salmon numbering at 3,172 adults.

Population figures in the snapshots are accompanied by the number of each species needed at a particular watershed in order to meet the National Marine Fisheries Service recovery target plan and be de-listed from the federal endangered and threatened species list.

The full report includes information for most creeks and rivers in the Bay Area and can be accessed here.

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