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California water, ITP California coho salmon, Salmon and fish, Scott River, Threats to agriculture, Water rights
John Menke, Ph.D. asks DFG employees to read and learn from Scott River Water Trust

followed by:

Patterson Creek Drying Pools by Sari Sommarstrom, Executive Director Scott River Water Trust

Neil, Joe, and Andrew:

Would you please share the attached press release with all the cc’s on your recent letter to us diverters about CDFG’s scheduled meeting in Fort Jones on August 16th, designed to ask us to reduce our diversions?

It would be educational for your folks who have not gained experience while living in Scott Valley to understand the nature of ephemeral channels and intermittent streams that deliver water to the Scott River.

Under old ecological theory, salmon could be considered an r-selected species that inherently produce more offspring than are necessary to maintain healthy populations of their species. “r” refers to reproductive-rate-evolved, where vast reproductive effort more than makes up for natural death of juveniles of the species.

By contrast, “K” selected species, which are carrying-capacity-controlled, like deer, have a different evolved strategy to maintain their existence. When deer over-populate their range they run out of food and their populations crash naturally.

Where man disallows natural fire regimes, or logging as a surrogate for fire, like what has happened to the forested watershed of Scott Valley, the food sources for deer decline precipitously and so do the deer populations. In decades past your agency lobbied for forest management for deer herd enhancement reasons–no more!

Now that your agency has been captured by the enviros, we have few deer and reduced watershed function–lower overall streamflows due to abnormal densification of our forests, high sublimation of snow from too high canopy cover, and excessive transpirational demand for water that would otherwise maintain higher year-round streamflows. Even the spotted owl can’t access its ground-dwelling small mammal food supply.

Regardless, Nature expects that the vast majority of juvenile individuals for an r-selected species will die. CDFG’s fish rescue program is not necessary and it gives the wrong impression to environmental folks that have not had the opportunity or taken the time to become educated on the ecology of Nature for wont of a better way of stating it.

A few weeks ago, Rick Davis, Kevin Gale, and Curtis Milliron visited our ranch to tour our neighbor’s fish screen site. While Kevin and Curtis were down along the Mill Creek streamside with my wife, Jennifer, I was speaking with Rick about Curtis’ tour of Scott and Shasta Valleys that day. Rick informed me that his previous supervisor, Steve Turek, had never done such a tour of the two valleys as Rick was doing for Curtis. We appreciate Curtis’ interest in our valley! It is high time that administrators in Redding become educated about the wildlife and fish resources you are responsible for managing and stop marching to the enviros’ drummer.

During August 16th’s meeting we will be prepared to discuss the ecological mechanisms affecting salmon abundance in Scott Valley as well as alterations and refinements in your monitoring of escapement and spawner survey methods that will more accurately estimate population abundance, allow us to identify limiting factors to salmon populations, and hopefully develop grounds for a CEQA analysis your agency needs to do in order to stop damaging actions you have been doing to coho since 1995 at Iron Gate Hatchery and periodically at video weirs on the Scott River as well as the Shasta River and Bogus Creek. The Scott and Shasta Valleys can provide a microcosm for learning and the development of solutions where solutions may exist. The diversity of impairments in the two valleys can provide tremendous insight for problem solving.

Thanks for your attention and concerns for the fish! We like fish too!


John W. Menke, Ph.D.

August 8, 2011

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Scott River Water Trust sets the record straight — Thank you for these truths
California water, Salmon and fish, Scott River, Threats to agriculture, Water rights
Patterson Creek Drying Pools

August 6, 2011

The Scott River Water Trust was surprised by a recent press release by Klamath Riverkeeper that fish were dying in Patterson Creek supposedly as a result of water diversions. As of July 7th, all of the water diversions on Patterson Creek above Highway 3 were leased to stay instream for the benefit of rearing habitat for young coho salmon and steelhead. Good habitat exists about ¼ mile above the bridge and below the diversion point, going up several miles upstream. Of the 927 adult coho that returned to the Scott River last winter, a significant number were seen spawning in Patterson Creek, as the species also did in 2007.

For some reason, Klamath Riverkeeper seems to believe that all drying streambeds and stranded pools with fish in Scott Valley are caused by stream diversions. Without such human water use, they claim, the creeks would never be “dewatered”. No one likes to see dying fish in stranded pools but one can’t fight natural conditions either. No one should be surprised that some sections of streams dry up every year in Scott Valley. While water diversions can contribute to this situation, this behavior in these stream reaches mentioned by Klamath Riverkeeper’s press release is fundamentally a natural condition and documented historically.

In 1851, journal entries by George Gibbs observed that the river in Scott Valley has only “two or three small branches which continue to flow during the dry season.” He also noted the western side of the valley next to the mountains as being very gravelly and “cut up with arroyas from the mountains”. Around 1854, the pioneer that Kidder Creek is named after found, to his dismay, that the creek’s flow began falling in July every year and did not begin flowing again until the rains began.

An “arroyo” is a Spanish term for an intermittently dry creek. That is what we have in the lower reaches of many of the tributaries to the Scott River, especially when steep mountain streams enter the flatter alluvium of Scott Valley. Blame the geology and the climate. These “alluvial fans” can be readily seen where State Highway 3 bridges Kidder Creek, Patterson Creek, and Etna Creek. There is not enough stream energy to continue carrying the larger rocks. The full natural flow would not be sufficient to sustain surface flows, as shown by historic evidence.

The Water Trust seeks water leases from active diverters in priority coho streams where additional flows can benefit summer rearing habitat. French Creek and Shackleford Creek have sufficient flow during this wet year so the Water Trust is not seeking water leases there, as it has during past drought years. The main stem Scott River is currently at 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) flow. With the lowest flow always around September 1st, there is no danger of the river drying up in the next 3 weeks.

The Water Trust was glad to see that this year’s stronger coho brood year had a run of 927 adults, which is in the ballpark of the 800 to 2,000 coho that the California Dept. of Fish and Game (CDFG) estimated the Scott River’s population to be in the early 1960s.

Sari Sommarstrom
Executive Director

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