Shasta coho: Going, going, gone?
Coho on the Shasta River are hanging on by a thread. Whether or not they survive will depend on how quickly management agencies respond to the latest science charting their declines.
* Two out of the Shasta’s three year-classes of coho are functionally extinct. The last remaining year-class, spawning fall of 2010, is on the same trajectory. The only properties where juvenile coho were actually observed in 2009 were ranches owned by Emmerson Investments Inc.
* Key rearing habitat on Archie “Red” Emmerson’s land is heavily degraded by excessive cattle trampling, de-watering, and elevated water temperatures. (Emmerson is not a local family farmer, but rather the head of Sierra Pacific logging corporation, the nation’s third-largest landowner. His net worth is estimated at over $2.1 billion and Forbes ranks him among the United States’ 400 wealthiest people.)
* If nothing is done to change habitat conditions on Emmerson’s land, the last of the Shasta coho will face additional declines.
* In addition to agricultural diversions, and warm tailwater returns from these diversions, warm water releases from Dwinnell Dam/Lake Shastina also heat cold water refugial areas during the summer.
* CDFG recommends keeping adequate water quantity and quality instream to maintain fish in good condition, maintaining sufficient flows and suitable temperatures to allow fish passage, and excluding livestock from streams.
Send a letter urging CDFG, NOAA Fisheries, and the Department of Water Resources to act swiftly to implement and enforce CDFG’s recommended actions. Without prompt and decisive action, we could lose Shasta coho in 2010.