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Sonoma County Water Agency gets grant to monitor threatened salmon

The Sonoma County Water Agency has been awarded a $1.8 million state and federal grant to cover four years of fish survey work in the Russian River watershed, continuing studies begun over the past two years to evaluate the health of threatened and endangered species.

The program, part of a larger California Coastal Monitoring Program underway around the state, is designed to determine the status of salmon and steelhead fish populations across river systems, evaluate population trends and assess progress on species and habitat recovery, county officials said.

The effort is run by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries division and led locally by the Sonoma County Water Agency with UC Cooperative Extension. Participants in the program use standardized methods that will inform statewide fish management and conservation efforts and help build a database for use by fishery managers and the public.

The Russian River watershed is home to endangered coho salmon, and threatened steelhead trout and chinook salmon runs.

Activities covered by the Water Agency grant include snorkeling surveys of young fish, video monitoring of adult fish to count type and numbers, and spawner surveys in which crews slog through streams and creeks counting salmon nests, or redds, during spawning season, spokeswoman Ann DuBay said.

“This is a really cool program that uses Pacific Coast salmon restoration funds to look at the fish statewide, since they don’t recognize county boundaries,” DuBay said.

The grant was awarded by the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program operated by state Fish and Wildlife using a variety of state and federal funding sources.

“The awarding of this grant is a vote of confidence from the state and federal agencies in the efforts of the Sonoma County Water Agency and their other agency partners toward recovery of these threatened and endangered species,” fourth district Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said in a written statement. “The Water Agency has the expertise and the monitoring infrastructure in place to make a significant contribution to the program.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.

Mary Callahan

Environment and Climate Change, The Press Democrat

I am in awe of the breathtaking nature here in Sonoma County and am so grateful to live in this spectacular region we call home. I am amazed, too, by the expertise in our community and by the commitment to protecting the land, its waterways, its wildlife and its residents. My goal is to improve understanding of the issues, to find hope and to help all of us navigate the future of our environment. 

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