Digging Deeper on Fish and Flows

The Fish Report
November 9, 2015


Everyone knows that fish need water – but just how much water is often a subject of debate, especially when it comes to fish in California’s highly managed rivers. Many studies and management decisions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its tributaries have relied on research that found correlations between water flows and fish populations. Correlation implies a relationship between two things (e.g., when water flows in rivers are high, fish populations tend to increase). However, “correlation does not equal causation,” as the scientific saying goes: just because two factors show similar trends does not necessarily mean that one is directly causing the other. A recent report released by the Delta Independent Science Board (ISB) highlighted the need to better understand the underlying mechanisms behind the relationship between fish and flow, which can inform adaptive management of fish and water in the Delta.

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Finally, a One-stop Shop for Locating California’s Fishes

November 8, 2015
by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

Source: UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
Introducing PISCES 2.0, an open-source software and data storage platform that uses primary source data, modeling and expert analysis to generate current and historical locations of California’s freshwater fishes. “Fish richness” is the number of different fish species in an area. Source: UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

By Nick Santos


The question is foundational to conservation biology and policy. To take a conservation action, you need to know where to act. And, yet, for decades stewards and researchers of aquatic fauna have been sorely lacking in tools to systematically collect, store and map data on where California’s freshwater fishes are located.

A reliable and comprehensive compilation of standardized species data is especially important for tracking California’s 133 native fishes because 100 of them are officially designated as being in trouble – “endangered” or “threatened” with extinction or otherwise of “special concern.”

This need led the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences to develop “PISCES,” an open-source suite of data and software providing the most comprehensive and accurate information on current and historic ranges of California’s fishes.

The center has just released PISCES to the public. The software and data can be downloaded for free from its website. The data also can be viewed from interactive maps on the website showing species ranges or species richness.

More than a data aggregator, PISCES converts different forms of data to a standard format and provides easily updatable, high-resolution maps outlining species’ ranges with the best and latest location information available. The program also produces summary California maps showing overall distribution of fishes, patterns of biodiversity and areas where biological data are lacking.

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Forest for the Trees

Coastal redwoods battle heats up along the Gualala River


A RIVER TRICKLES THROUGH IT According to the EPA, the Gualala River has been “impaired” due to sediment caused by logging. - RORY MCNAMARA

Rory McNamara
According to the EPA, the Gualala River has been “impaired” due to sediment caused by logging.

The fight to save majestic coastal redwood groves in California has been waged for more than a century, starting with the campaign that created Big Basin State Park in 1902.

In 1978, the Sierra Club dubbed its successful campaign to expand Redwood State and National Park the “last battle” of “the redwood war,” but the battles to protect this globally recognized icon of nature would only intensify.

In 1985, a junk-bond dealer named Charles Hurwitz engineered a hostile takeover of Humboldt County’s most respected logging company, Pacific Lumber, and folded it into Houston-based investment company Maxxam. Meanwhile, Louisiana-Pacific, a Georgia-Pacific spin-off, was cutting its more than 300,000 acres in Mendocino and Sonoma counties at roughly three times the forest’s rate of growth.

“We need everything that’s out there,” Louisiana-Pacific CEO Harry Merlot told the

Press Democrat in 1989 “We log to infinity. Because it’s out there and we need it all, now.”

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Push for More Logging Under the Northwest Forest Plan

By Tom Wheeler
Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Bugaboo_Creek_Clearcut. wikimediacommons

Our federal forests, including those governed by the Northwest Forest Plan, are directed to be managed for “multiple uses,” such as recreation, wildlife habitat, and timber production.

In the late 1980s, before the Northwest Forest Plan, loggers were pulling 4.5 billion board feet of timber out of federal forests within the range of the forthcoming Plan. This amount was unsustainable, however, and was achieved largely through the liquidation logging of old-growth forests. The Northwest Forest Plan, adopted by the Clinton Administration in 1994, was largely a response to this excess and the ecological harm it inflicted on protected species like the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet.

Before the Northwest Forest Plan was adopted, the Forest Service predicted that around one billion board feet of timber could be removed per year under the Plan. This amount, known as the “probable sale quantity” or PSQ, was merely an estimate; it was not a maximum amount which could be removed, nor was it a minimum that must be met, nor was it even a goal of the Plan. Many noted, including Jack Ward Thomas, the future Chief of the Forest Service, that because of the measures to protect wildlife, this billion board foot PSQ was overly ambitious and would not likely be met. (Indeed, the current PSQ was reduced to a 805 million board feet.) Some viewed the PSQ estimate as a political maneuvering—a deliberately ambitious number set to appease the timber industry. The timber industry, however, viewed the PSQ as a promise.

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A Real Halloween Horror Show: Jerry Brown’s Delta Death Tunnels

by Dan Bacher

The real-life horror show of Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels Plan keeps revealing its deadly surprises as the public comment period for the California Water Fix draws to a close on Friday, October 30.

Like an evil vampire that you just can’t seem to kill, the Delta-destroying tunnels plan keeps coming back.

The voters overwhelmingly defeated the water-sucking and fish-exterminating vampire project, originally known as the Peripheral Canal, in November 1982.

However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger resurrected the undead project from its electoral tomb starting 2007 under new, less scary-sounding names – the Delta Vision Plan and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan – and did everything he could push the plan through without allowing the voters to vote, including pressuring the Legislation to pass a water policy/water bond package that facilitated the construction of the tunnels in 2009.

Jerry Brown embraced the water-guzzling vampire project of Schwarzenegger’s as his own “legacy” when he entered his third term as Governor in January 2015 – and in fact fast-tracked the project. However, after the scientists from Environmental Protection Agency, Delta Independent Science Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Academy of Sciences and every science panel examining the project issued scathing reports revealing how the tunnels could hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, the Brown and Obama administrations resurrected the conveyance plan as the “California Water Fix” – and stripped the “habitat restoration” component out of the plan to become the “Eco Restore” proposal.

In addition to hastening the extinction of Central Valley steelhead and salmon and other species, the deadly project will imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

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Seven million Californians call the Bay Area home, with the iconic waters of San Francisco Bay making this one of the best places in the world to live.

Now the Bay is at risk – and with it, the jobs, recreation and wildlife that depend on a healthy Bay.

The threat is the “Twin Tunnels” project — an expensive, misguided, experimental proposal to divert more Sacramento River water around San Francisco Bay for transport to the Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. The fresh water the Bay receives from the Sacramento River is critical to maintaining the ecology and economic vitality of the Bay.

THE TWIN TUNNELS PROJECT: A wildly expensive experiment

The Twin Tunnels project will take up to $67 billion and at least 15 years to build, making it irrelevant as a solution to California’s drought. The tunnels would each be 40 feet in diameter and 30 miles long, traveling through challenging terrain. This would be one of the longest and largest water tunnels ever built in America. State agency documents admit that the tunnels are far larger than needed for the current water flow, which would open the door to more water exported to the Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California in the future.

THE ECOLOGY OF THE BAY: Fragile and under stress

San Francisco Bay is part of the largest estuary on the West Coast south of Alaska. For decades, significant amounts of Sacramento River water have been diverted to southern California, bypassing San Francisco Bay’s estuary, resulting in drastic reductions in fish and wildlife and a decline in water quality. The Bay’s ecosystem is already stretched to the breaking point. Less fresh water will allow salt water to intrude further upstream into the Sacramento River Delta estuary and threaten the Bay’s ecological balance.

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Link to Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping/KiDar Program

Hi Folks,

For those who do not get these updates from the Sonoma County Vegetation Mapping and LiDAR Program – I wanted to make sure you were aware of this program and the amazingly detailed data layers they are producing for everything from Lifeform distributions to Cropland maps. Enhanced Hydrologic Datasets and Impervious Surfaces all in support of stream and watershed planning, and even some enhanced Contour Viewing software!! Fun fun fun…

The use of these new LiDAR maps was super helpful for us at OAEC towards more accurately locating and mapping the legacy of all the old roads, haul roads and skid trails from the days of clear cutting as part of our new CFIP Stewardship Plan: http://oaec.org/wildlands/oaec-publishes-wildlands-preserve-stewardship-plan/

For those of us “topophiliacs” – there is a ton of really fascinating and potentially very useful tools here – thanks to our tax dollars well spent IMHO!


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Public Workshop on Winery Event Centers, Nov. 16

To All,

Come to this workshop to Preserve our Rural Character and protect our rural lands from the impacts of EVENTS

County Planning Dept. – Public Workshop on Events
Monday, November 16, 2015 @ 6:30 pm
LOCATION  Glaser Center 547 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa 95401

Tasting rooms and wineries co-existed with neighbors for decades – until the “Arms Race” for ever-more facilities with intensive events turned tasting rooms into event centers and de-facto restaurants.  Don’t allow Sonoma County to become Napafied!

Attend the Workshop to ensure meaningful standards that:

·      Address neighborhood compatibility and road safety issues;
·      Protect Ag lands from highly commercial entertainment uses;
·      Provide the balance necessary to preserve rural character!

A large public presence is critical NOW – Ensure your voice is heard while standards are being developed: Otherwise, the county may adopt policies that intensify impacts by allowing:

·      Event centers on narrow rural roads with inadequate emergency vehicle access and unsafe site distances
·      On-site cooking and daily food service at tasting rooms
·      Outdoor events on parcels with NO winery or tasting room
·      Multiple tasting rooms on a single parcel
·      Dozens of events per facility for hundreds of people held after
5 pm tasting room hours – with drinking up to 10 pm.

PRSC supports the development of meaningful zoning code criteria and standards for use permits that:
Balance the rights and welfare of adjacent property owners,
Address cumulative impacts from over-commercialization, and
Protect Sonoma County’s differentiating asset – rural character –
and the attributes critical to remaining a premier destination.

To learn about the Winery Working Group policy options, visit:

Preserve Rural Sonoma County  https://www.facebook.com/preserveruralsonomacounty

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Public Hearing on Russian River Pathogens

To All,

This is from the North Coast Regional Water Board.

The public hearing scheduled for November 19, 2015, to consider adoption of the proposed Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) has been postponed. Instead, at the public meeting to be held on November 19, 2015 at 5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403, Regional Water Board staff will present an informational item about the TMDL that will:

Summarize the major comments received from the public,
Describe potential revisions to the draft implementation program that may be warranted, and
Propose a new schedule for TMDL and Action Plan adoption.

The draft TMDL Staff Report, draft Basin Plan Amendment, and copies of comments on the draft Basin Plan Amendment received during the comment period can be found on the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board website at the following link:

Updates on the status of the Russian River Watershed Pathogen Indicator Bacteria TMDL will be distributed to the North Coast Region’s Russian River TMDL email list. To subscribe to the listserve, go to http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/resources/email_subscriptions/reg1_subscribe.shtml and click on “Russian River TMDL.”

For more information and any questions, please contact:
Charles Reed at (707) 576-2752 or Charles.Reed@waterboards.ca.gov or
Alydda Mangelsdorf at (707) 576-6735 or Alydda.Mangelsdorf@waterboards.ca.gov


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Attend Groundwater Meetings in Sonoma County

Learn about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in Sonoma County

Groundwater meetingThree public workshops will be held to review the new law, why it’s needed, how it affects Sonoma County, and to discuss the formation of local Groundwater Sustainability Agencies. There will be time to ask questions and provide input.

Monday, November 9
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lucchesi Community Center
320 North McDowell Blvd, Petaluma

Thursday, November 12
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sonoma Veterans Memorial Building
126 First Street West, Sonoma

Wednesday, December 9
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Finley Community Center
2060 West College Ave, Santa Rosa

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