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County requests approval of coho supplementation program

By John Bowman, Siskiyou Daily News Feb 22, 2012
Siskiyou County is wasting no time in pursuing a Shasta River coho salmon supplementation program in an attempt to bolster the nearly extinct population.

Quick on the heels of the last week’s Upper Klamath River Coho Salmon Workshop, two members of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors will meet with California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Director Chuck Bonham today to formally request the department’s approval and assistance in the process.

District 3 Supervisor Michael Kobseff and District 1 Supervisor Jim Cook will meet with Bonham in Sacramento and present him with a letter, which the board unanimously approved Tuesday.

“For over four years, a unique coalition of partners concerned about the nearly extirpated Shasta River coho population have been actively working to develop effective steps that could be taken to reverse the seemingly inexorable dispensation spiral for coho in the Shasta River,” the letter begins.

The letter goes on to explain that the coalition of partners understands the concerns of DFG and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding the potential cost, necessity of habitat improvement, need for adequate monitoring and the protection of remnant genetic resources.
“We have been working through those concerns ...,” the letter states.

As part of the effort to work through those concerns, the county – along with the Nature Conservancy, the Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District (RCD), the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau and other partners – organized and hosted last week’s workshop. The workshop brought together geneticists, fisheries biologists, and representatives of environmental and agricultural organizations to share information and explore options for recovering the Shasta River coho.

The first day of the workshop featured updates on the current status of upper Klamath River and Shasta River coho habitat, genetics and population dynamics.

The workshop’s second day featured fisheries biologists from Alaska to California’s Russian River reporting on their supplementation efforts and the viability of those efforts in recovering Shasta River coho.

“Based on the findings and conclusions of all the presenters at that conference,” the letter says, “it is the unanimous opinion among the undersigned that it is time to move forward with all possible immediacy toward assessing and developing a supplementation program on the Shasta ...”

The letter goes on to ask that questions regarding “the right circumstances” and the necessary permits required to embark on a supplementation program be answered and addressed by DFG and federal fisheries agencies.

“We are now at the point where policy-level decisions that must come from the resources agencies responsible for ESA oversight need to be made,” the letter states.

The letter concludes by saying, “Our coalition is writing to request a commitment from your agencies to support such an effort and allocate sufficient staff resources to assist in the development, implementation and monitoring of an agreed upon approach to supplementation of coho salmon in the Shasta River.”

In Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Siskiyou County Natural Resource Policy Specialist Ric Costales explained that the next run of coho will be the last opportunity for a supplementation effort until after the 2013 run. This is because the 2013 run is the strongest of the three runs in the coho cycle.

“No one wants to mess with that stronger cohort,” Costales said.

“After this run, it’s going to be another two or three years before they’ll even consider it again.”

Due to this timing issue, the board asserts that there is an urgency to getting a supplementation program started now.


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