NEWS WORTH NOTING: Final Coleman National Fish Hatchery Adaptive Management Plan; Pacific Flyway partnerships celebrated in Yolo Bypass; Stormwater management importance underscored in LA Basin Study; $14M grant for Salton Sea restoration

Release of the Final Coleman National Fish Hatchery Adaptive Management Plan

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

ReclamationThe Bureau of Reclamation, along with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), NOAA Fisheries, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announce the issuance of the final Coleman National Fish Hatchery (CNFH) Adaptive Management Plan (AMP).

The purpose of the CNFH AMP is to acknowledge, identify, study, and evaluate the impacts of operating a large scale fish hatchery in a watershed being restored for natural salmonid populations through the Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project (Restoration Project). The goal of the CNFH AMP is to provide solutions and processes to support optimization of CNFH programs, operations, and infrastructure so that the hatchery mitigation goals and objectives are achieved, while maximizing its compatibility with the Restoration Project. The CNFH AMP was produced through a collaborative effort over a four-year period. Key stakeholders engaged in the AMP development included the Battle Creek Watershed Conservancy and the Golden Gate Salmon Association.

The CNFH AMP is intended to closely coordinate with the Restoration Project AMP, so that together the two adaptive management plans form a single integrated framework for long-term adaptive management in Battle Creek. This integrated process is formalized in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Regarding Integrated Adaptive Management of the Restoration Project and CNFH, signed by Reclamation, the Service, NOAA Fisheries, CDFW, and PG&E. This MOU is included in the CNFH AMP.

Since its establishment in 1942, the CNFH has served as an important mitigation component of the federal Central Valley Project, partially compensating for lost natural salmonid production resulting from construction of Shasta and Keswick dams. Currently, the CNFH annually propagates three salmonid stocks: fall Chinook salmon, late-fall Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead.

Restoration of the Battle Creek watershed upstream of the CNFH focuses on providing fish access to historical habitat and the necessary instream flows to benefit naturally occurring salmonid populations. The Restoration Project is a collaborative effort between Reclamation, the Service, NOAA Fisheries, CDFW, PG&E, various resource agencies and local stakeholders to restore approximately 48 miles of habitat in Battle Creek and its tributaries for threatened and endangered Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead, while maintaining clean and renewable energy production at the PG&E Battle Creek Hydroelectric Project. Construction of the Restoration Project is currently on-going with the completion anticipated in 2021.

The Final CNFH AMP is available at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/battlecreek/docs/cnfh-amp-final-nov2016.pdf. If you encounter problems accessing the document online, please call 916-978-5100 (TTY 800-877-8339) or email mppublicaffairs@usbr.gov. Copies of the document are available at the Tehama County Library, 645 Madison Street, Red Bluff, CA 96080.

Information regarding the CNFH AMP is available at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/battlecreek/cnfh.html.

Information regarding the Restoration Project is available at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/battlecreek.

Pacific Flyway Partnerships Celebrated in Yolo Bypass

Sacramento Valley is Single Most Important Wintering Area for Waterfowl  Who Are At Peak of Migration

From the Northern California Water Association:

northern-california-water-association-ncwa-logoEach winter migrating waterfowl rely upon the Sacramento Valley to rest and feed during their annual migration, which is at its peak right now. Winter flooding of post-harvest rice fields, along with wildlife refuges, are key components to providing the food and resting areas necessary for migrating waterfowl, and, today, representatives from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations and water districts gathered in the Yolo Bypass to discuss these efforts.

Each winter – farmers, wetlands managers, agencies and water districts work together to flood harvested rice fields, provide habitat on managed wetlands and deliver water to refuges and wildlife areas.  Collaborative partnerships, as well as effective management and delivery of water in the Sacramento Valley by water districts and agencies, ensures that habitat needed for birds and other wildlife continues to be available.

“The Sacramento Valley represents the single most important wintering area for the waterfowl along the Pacific Flyway,” said Stafford Lehr, Deputy Director, Wildlife and Fisheries Division, California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The partnerships between the private and public sector, along with the effective management of reliable water supplies, is absolutely key to providing the hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat for migrating birds each year.”

“Places like the Yolo Wildlife Area create the backbone of the Pacific Flyway, supporting the millions of birds that travel through our Central Valley each year,” Meghan Hertel, Director of Land and Water Conservation, Audubon California. “It is also a model of a successful multiple benefit project – the kind that will be critical for sustaining our wildlife and human communities well into the future.”

Waterfowl migrate to the Sacramento Valley by the millions from as far away as Alaska, Canada, and Siberia with approximately 80% of all Pacific Flyway waterfowl ending up in or passing through the Central Valley. The Sacramento Valley habitat in particular supports about  half of the wintering waterfowl, attracting four to five million waterfowl to its seasonal marshes.

Where land is flooded, as is the case on wildlife refuges and winter flooded rice fields, large numbers of geese, ducks, swans, and other waterfowl, as well as wintering shorebirds and other waterbirds, can be observed.  One recent count of greater white-fronted geese – just one species of waterbird – found 725,000 in the Sacramento Valley alone. Other duck and goose surveys are conducted in mid-Winter.

The limited amount of natural wetlands in the area makes small-grain production fields (mostly rice) critical to the survivability of the large numbers of waterfowl wintering in California. Many water districts and companies in addition to providing water for the working agricultural landscapes and privately managed wetlands also deliver water to federal wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas. The flooded fields and wildlife refuges, along with intensively managed private wetlands, help compensate for the 95% of Central Valley wetlands lost over the years.

The habitat goals for the Central Valley region of the Pacific Flyway are compiled in the Central Valley Joint Venture Implementation Plan, which was published in 2006. These goals include habitat needs for the different basins located in the Central Valley, as well as conservation objectives for the six bird groups identified in the Plan (wintering waterfowl, breeding waterfowl, wintering shorebirds, breeding shorebirds, waterbirds, and riparian songbirds). These conservation objectives are also integrated in the plan to provide overall acreage and water supply objectives for wetland restoration, wetland enhancement, riparian restoration, winter flooded rice, waterfowl-friendly agriculture, and agricultural easements.

“The important work being accomplished by the partners of the Central Valley Joint Venture is critical to fulfilling our responsibility to protect wetlands and the millions of migrating birds that rely on them,” said Greg Yarris, Science Coordinator, Central Valley Joint Venture. “Working together, we ensure wildlife enhancement occurs alongside continued agricultural production, and supports recreational opportunities and other societal benefits.”

Joining Yarris, Lehr and Hertel at the event were Ann Brice, Board Member, Audubon California; Mike DeWit, Rice Grower; Mark Biddlecomb, Director of Operations, Ducks Unlimited;  and Todd Manley, Director of Government Relations,
Northern California Water Association.

To learn more, visit: http://www.norcalwater.org/efficient-water-management/birds-and-pacific-flyway/

Stormwater Management Importance Underscored in Los Angeles Basin Study Released by Bureau of Reclamation

Stormwater capture and recharge are critical to replenish and sustain local water supplies within the Los Angeles Area in California

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López has released the Los Angeles Basin Study that looks at the changing demographics, climate change and competing interests for available water supplies and identifies options to meet the water needs of the Los Angeles area into the future. The study found that there is a potential water supply deficit for the region of approximately 160,000 acre-feet-per year by 2035 and 440,000 acre-feet-per-year or 25-percent less water than the region is projected to need in 2095.

“Reclamation and our partners in the Los Angeles area are working to assure a sustainable water supply now and into the future,” Commissioner López said. “The basin study provides our partners the information that they need to further study the various alternatives for future water supplies while reducing their reliance on the state water project and the Colorado River Aqueduct.”

The study compiled and assessed the potential impacts of climate change in the Los Angeles area. These impacts include possible variations in precipitation and changes in the timing and intensity of storms through 2095, temperature increases of 3.5 degrees to 4 degrees Fahrenheit along the coast and 4.5 degrees to 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the mountains and desert, an increase in sea-level of 5-24 inches by 2050 and 17-66 inches by 2100, and an increased wildfire risk.

The Los Angeles area relies on imported water from the state water project and the Colorado River for about 57 percent of its current water supply. These imported supplies may be negatively impacted in the future by climate change, drought, and increasing demands. To address this increased uncertainty, the study focused on local water supply sources such as groundwater, which is an important component of the area’s overall water supply portfolio.

The Los Angeles County Flood Control District, a partner in this study with Reclamation, placed a strong emphasis on stormwater capture for groundwater recharge. In addition, recycled water and other local supplies were studied to assist with groundwater recharge. These adaptive concepts were divided among local, regional, storage solutions and management solutions.

The Los Angeles Basin covers approximately 2,040 square miles and features a population of 9.9 million people that is projected to increase to more than 11 million through the next several decades. Nearly 92 percent of Los Angeles County's population resides within the basin, more than one-fourth of the State of California's 38.8 million residents.

This basin study was conducted as part of Reclamation's WaterSMART Program and was cost-shared between Reclamation, Los Angeles County Flood Control District and 20 local project partners. It is available on Reclamation's Basin Study Program website at http://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/bsp/.

WaterSMART is the Department of the Interior's sustainable water initiative that uses the best available science to improve water conservation and help water resource managers identify strategies to narrow the gap between supply and demand. For more information on the WaterSMART program, visit www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART.

California Department of Water Resources Receives $14 Million Grant to Support Salton Sea Restoration

From the California Natural Resources Agency:CNRA_logo

California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird today heralded a $14 million grant awarded by the state Wildlife Conservation Board to help fund habitat restoration efforts at the Salton Sea.

The $14 million grant of voter-approved bond funds to the California Department of Water Resources will help fund construction of approximately 640 acres of wetland habitat designed to sustain tilapia for the great abundance of fish-eating birds that flock to the Salton Sea.  Tilapia is the dominant fish species in the hyper-saline lake.  The project aims to enhance habitat for bird species, including cormorant and pelican, where the New River flows into the Salton Sea, about seven miles northwest of the city of Westmorland.

“This new grant will help us build habitat that protects the bird populations at the Salton Sea,” said Laird.  “We’re pushing forward with the projects in our 10-year plan to protect wildlife and air quality as water flows to the sea decrease in coming years.”

Agricultural drainage to the Salton Sea is expected to shrink significantly after 2017, when water transfers from the Imperial Valley accelerate under agreements reached years ago.  The sea is saltier than the ocean, and as inflows dwindle, lakebed is exposed, creating air quality issues in the Imperial and Coachella valleys.  The possibility also exists that the lake could become too salty to support tilapia, eliminating an important food source for birds on the Pacific Flyway.

In May 2015, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. created the Salton Sea Task Force and directed agencies to develop a comprehensive management plan for the Sea that will meet a short-term goal of 9,000 acres to 12,000 acres of habitat and dust suppression projects.  The Governor also set a medium-term plan to construct 18,000 acres to 25,000 acres of habitat and dust suppression projects.

The $14 million grant awarded yesterday by the Wildlife Conservation Board follows a $1.85 million grant issued in June by the Board to the Imperial Irrigation District to restore approximately 600 acres of shallow, brackish water habitat in the Red Hill Bay area of the Salton Sea.  That project is a joint effort by the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial Irrigation District and private geothermal developers to create habitat and address a highly emissive area of exposed playa.

In 2013, the California Department of Water Resources distributed $3 million in bond funds for habitat restoration and air quality projects to the Imperial Irrigation District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Salton Sea Authority.  Projects funded by this money are underway.

The habitat work will help fulfill the goals set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding reached in August between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the California Natural Resources Agency.

In addition, the state of California has committed more than $80 million in voter-approved bond funds to restore habitat and suppress dust at the lake in the near term.

For more information, visit http://resources.ca.gov/salton-sea/.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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