Connect with us

California

NOAA FISHERIES: Northern California steelhead maintain threatened status

Published

on

NOAA FISHERIES: Northern California steelhead maintain threatened status


A recent Endangered Species Act 5-year review shows water use, habitat loss, and climate change continue to compromise recovery.

By NOAA Fisheries

Northern California steelhead require continued protection as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to a recent 5-year review by NOAA Fisheries. State and federal agencies, tribes, and private landowners have completed numerous habitat restoration projects since the last review in 2016. However, the population faces continued threats from drought, high water temperatures, and water use, all exacerbated by the changing climate. The 5-year review also found that water conservation should be integrated into habitat restoration projects to achieve maximum benefits.

“Because climate change is one of the most significant threats to Northern California steelhead, protective efforts in the future should focus on projects that aim to conserve water during the summer and fall low flow periods,” said Seth Naman, a fish biologist with NOAA Fisheries and the lead author of the 2024 5-Year Review: Summary & Evaluation of Northern California Steelhead.

The range of the Northern California steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) extends from Redwood Creek in Humboldt County south to the Gualala River in Sonoma County. They were first listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2000. For rivers and streams with enough data to analyze trends over time, populations have either no trend or slightly decreased numbers of returning adults since the last 5-year review. Several streams did not have enough information available to analyze population trends over time, which remains a concern.

Advertisement

Summer-run steelhead face particularly acute threats from high water temperatures and low water flow. Adults spend 4 to 6 months in deep pools in rivers and streams during the summer. For virtually all populations of Northern California steelhead with enough data, current population estimates are less than 15 percent of ESA recovery goals.

The 2014 California Water Action Plan charged the State Water Resources Control Board and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) with enhancing water flows. Enhanced flows were required in at least five stream systems that support critical habitat for steelhead and Pacific salmon. This includes the Eel River, which provides habitat for the greatest number of steelhead in the region.

Cannabis Regulation Benefits Steelhead

Another regulatory measure that has improved protection of Northern California steelhead was the legalization and regulation of cannabis. California voters passed Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in 2016. Subsequent legislative action gave CDFW the authority to ensure that cannabis cultivation does not adversely impact steelhead and salmon habitat. The regulation of recreational cannabis has also had a downstream effect on the market by lowering prices, making illegal grow operations uneconomic. This has prompted unpermitted growers to close up shop and stop illegally diverting water, Naman said.

Overfishing was not found to be a factor that threatens Northern California steelhead. There is no commercial fishery for the species in the region; bycatch in commercial harvests have not been found to be a significant source of mortality. Recreational fishing for steelhead is popular, but has limited impacts. CDFW manages the recreational fishery and enforces the catch and release of steelhead throughout their geographic range.It has set a bag limit of two hatchery steelhead on the Mad River.

Research indicates marine mammal populations have increasingly preyed on salmon and steelhead populations in the eastern Pacific Ocean in recent decades. These animals are recovering under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Further study is required to understand whether or not marine mammal predation is contributing to slower recovery of imperiled salmon and steelhead populations, including Northern California steelhead.

Advertisement
Middle Fork of California’s Eel River. Photo: Shaun Thompson, California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Long-Term Threats of Climate Change

The long-term impacts of climate change pose the most significant threat to the viability of Northern California steelhead.  A 2018 study found that California will likely lose nearly all of its tidal wetlands due to sea-level rise. These estuaries and coastal wetlands are important habitats for both juvenile steelhead migrating to the ocean and for adults returning to spawn.

Warming temperatures and drought decrease available habitat for steelhead by reducing streamflows and elevating water temperatures. They also increase the prevalence of wildfires. The 5-year review found that since the last review there has been “increased frequency and severity of large, unprecedented wildfires” in Northern California. These blazes increase sediment from ash, topsoil runoff, and landslides in steelhead and salmon streams. They also lead to even warmer stream temperatures, as the shade provided by tree canopies is lost.

Rising ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, toxic algal blooms, and other oceanographic changes alter the ecosystems and food webs in the North Pacific. This leads to shifts in the abundance of both predators and prey. A growing consequence of this is thiamine deficiency caused by an increased abundance of anchovies and an absence of other prey.

Recommendations for Long-Term Success

Northern California steelhead, like all salmonids, need cold, clean water to thrive. The primary recommendation from the 5-year review is to “support and fund projects intended to increase stream flows during the summer and fall months.”

The 2014 California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act brought statewide legislation regarding how the state manages its groundwater resources for the first time. However, the regulations appear inadequate to protect Northern California steelhead. Additional streamflow protections are required to ensure Northern California steelhead have sufficient flow levels during the summer and fall months.

Advertisement

A positive development for Northern California steelhead is the coming removal of both Cape Horn and Scott dams on the Eel River. This will likely provide substantial benefits to the Eel River basin and Northern California steelhead by opening approximately 300 miles of potential steelhead and salmon habitat. This habitat had been closed off by the dams since their construction more than 100 years ago. This large-scale restoration project should be prioritized by state and federal agencies, tribes, and private landowners for implementation in the years to come. In the marine environment, researchers should further study the effects of both marine mammal predation and thiamine deficiency on Northern California steelhead, Naman said.

“Northern California steelhead are resilient and can recover, as long as protective efforts including water conservation and forward-looking regulatory actions and habitat protection are enacted, allowing them to flourish,” Naman said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

California

Demonstrators rally at California Capitol in support of Ukraine as Russian invasion hits 880th day

Published

on

Demonstrators rally at California Capitol in support of Ukraine as Russian invasion hits 880th day


Demonstrators rally at California Capitol in support of Ukraine as Russian invasion hits 880th day – CBS Sacramento

Watch CBS News


Demonstrators rallied at the California State Capitol on Wednesday night in support of Ukraine as Russia’s invasion enters its 880th day in the country.

Advertisement

Be the first to know

Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.




Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

California

Los Angeles Zoo has record-breaking 2024 California condor breeding season

Published

on

Los Angeles Zoo has record-breaking 2024 California condor breeding season


The Los Angeles Zoo is making strides in saving the California condor, America’s largest flying bird, from extinction.  

The zoo capped off its 2024 condor breeding season with a record-breaking 17 chicks hatched, breaking the record of 15 set in 1997.  

The large bird has a wingspan of nine-and-a-half feet, stands around three feet, and weighs between 17 to 25 pounds. Like vultures and other scavengers, condors feed on carcasses of large animals including deer, cattle, and marine mammals such as whales and seals. 

ca-condor-male-flying-photo-courtesy-of-l-a-zoo.jpg
The California condor has a typical wingspan of nine-and-a-half feet.

Advertisement

Jamie Pham


According to the L.A. Zoo, the condors’ high mortality rate is mostly due to lead poisoning from eating lead bullet fragments or shot pellets found in animal carcasses. In recent years, the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) has become another growing threat to the species’ survival. 

In 1983, there were only 22 California condors remaining on the planet. This was when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Fish and Game Commission decided to create a captive breeding program for the species, which the L.A. Zoo entered as a founding partner. 

“The L.A. Zoo has been an integral partner in the recovery of the iconic California condor since the inception of the program in the 1980s when the species was at the brink of extinction,” Denise M. Verret, Los Angeles Zoo CEO/Zoo Director said. 

In 2017, the L.A. Zoo pioneered a new breeding technique where animal care staff placed two condor chicks with a surrogate condor to raise the chicks.  

Advertisement

This year, the L.A. Zoo’s condor team implemented another first for the program, allowing three chicks to be raised at the same time by a female. This method also prevents human involvement, which leads to better survival rates for the birds once released in the wild.  

All the chicks bred at the L.A. Zoo are candidates for release into the wild.  

As of December 2023, there are 561 California condors in the world, of which 344 are living in the wild, according to the L.A. Zoo.  

While California condors are not on exhibit at the zoo, guests can participate in Condor Spotting, held daily (except Tuesdays) from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. Guests can also see Hope, a non-releasable California condor, at the Angela Collier World of Birds Show 12:00 p.m., daily, except Tuesday, weather permitting. 

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading

California

What the death of local news actually means

Published

on

What the death of local news actually means


Good morning. It’s Wednesday, July 24. I’m Gustavo Arellano, a metro columnist, which means I’m allowed to have opinions like:

Newspapers are cool.

But before I begin my rant, here’s what you need to know to start your day.

Whither the news industry in California?

Since I was a teen, I’ve lapped up newspapers.

Advertisement

I used to steal the sports section from the rolled-up newspapers on the driveways of homes on the way to Sycamore Junior High in Anaheim. When I realized there was more to life than just the Angels and Dodgers, I’d jump a fence every Sunday morning to buy copies of the Orange County Register and L.A. Times from news boxes in my neighboring apartment complex. Once I got a job my senior year of high school, I subscribed to those two papers along with the New York Times.

I went into journalism straight out of college despite earning a film studies degree — I’ve never regretted it. But as the years went on, I ended my print subscriptions because I could read for free on the internet most of what I used to pay for.

An empty news rack that used to sell the Spanish-language newspaper Excélsior still remains along Bristol Street in a small shopping area in Santa Ana.

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Advertisement

It’s people like me who launched the proverbial Little Boy that destroyed too many journalism outlets to count.

But the Fat Man remains companies like Craigslist, Google and Facebook, which eradicated the traditional business model of news organizations — advertising. This one-two punch has led to mass layoffs, shutdowns and a society where misinformation reigns.

Two bills currently in the California Legislature, Assembly Bill 886 and Senate Bill 1327, seek to confront this digital dystopia.

The former would require social media giants such as Facebook and search engines like Google to pay news outlets for using their content; the latter would use the revenue gathered from a proposed tax on user data gathered by Big Tech to gift news groups a tax credit for every full-time journalist they employ. The California News Publisher Assn., of which The Times is a member, supports AB 886, arguing it could give the state’s dying news industry — and local news — a lifeline.

(Tech companies vehemently oppose the bills, arguing it’s unfair to target them when the news industry hasn’t kept up with modernity and readers have more options to get their news than ever before.)

Advertisement

These bills aren’t merely a desperate money grab by the lamestream press, folks.

A limping media ecosystem affects society in many ways — few of them good.

Times reporters investigated the decline of local news and what it actually means. Here’s what we found:

  • More big businesses control the narrative. The largest news source in Richmond, Calif., is owned by the Bay Area town’s largest business: Chevron. That means in a city where pollution concerns are real from the company’s refinery, its digital rag doesn’t say a damn thing, Jessica Garrison reported.
  • News that serves disenfranchised communities is ignored. Santa Ana is one of the most-Latino big cities in the United States. Twenty years ago, dozens of local semanarios (weekly papers) and all sorts of sports, entertainment and lifestyle magazines covered the goings-on of the city. Today, just two publications focused on entertainment fluff remain. I looked at how important issues affecting residents now get ignored.
  • Tech companies are intent on winning. Australia and Canada passed bills similar to what California legislators have proposed. Some money went to publishers, but tech bros created chaos by blocking news from their platforms, national correspondent Jenny Jarvie reported.
  • AI is only making things worse. AI chatbots might openly lift local journalists’ work and either pass it off as their own or mischaracterize it. “The average consumer that just wants to go check [out a restaurant], they’re probably not going to read [our article] anymore,” L.A. Taco editor Javier Cabral told Wendy Lee on AI’s effects on his scrappy indie site.
  • Even news nonprofits — long seen as a foolproof solution — are having a rough time of it: The Long Beach Post had eclipsed the 127-year-old Press-Telegram in readership and gravitas but now finds itself in tatters after nearly three-quarters of its reporters resigned over editorial and business disputes with management. Those defectors now have their own publication, the Long Beach Watchdog, James Rainey reported.
  • There are fewer reporters to hold power accountable. The people paid to objectively find out what people in power are trying to hide from you … we’re losing jobs like the Halos are losing fans, Ashley Ahn showed.

I thank you, gentle reader, for reading this newsletter, offer you a virtual high-five if you subscribe to Essential California, and gift you a digital gold star if you are a Times subscriber. And if you read this without paying us? We pardon you — and ask you to subscribe. Hey, $1 for four months is a deal anyone can afford, amirite?

Today’s top stories

 Kamala Harris speaks at a lectern

Vice President Kamala Harris campaigns at West Allis Central High School in West Allis, Wis.

(Kayla Wolf / Associated Press)

Advertisement

Kamala Harris hits the trail

Coronavirus in California

How clean is your weed?

Fentanyl

  • The family of 3-year-old twins who died of a suspected fentanyl overdose is in shock. Relatives said they had no idea the boys’ mother used the opioid.
  • Their mother has been charged with murder.
  • Just last week, another toddler died of a fentanyl overdose. DCFS had trusted his mom’s friend to keep him safe

More big stories

Get unlimited access to the Los Angeles Times. Subscribe here.

Advertisement

Today’s great reads

A plate of tacos is displayed at the Industrial Downtown Night Market.

A plate of tacos is displayed at the Industrial Downtown Night Market.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

How L.A. reached peak taco. To understand how Los Angeles became the world’s most taco-diverse city, let’s start with the taco truck.

Other great reads

How can we make this newsletter more useful? Send comments to essentialcalifornia@latimes.com.

Advertisement

For your downtime

Tacos at Bandito Taqueria.

Tacos at Bandito Taqueria.

(Andrea D’Agosto / For The Times)

Going out

Staying in

And finally … from our archives

Front page of the July 25, 1974 L.A. Times

On this day in history, the Supreme Court voted 8 to 0 that President Nixon had to turn over transcripts of the Watergate tapes to Special Counsel Leon Jaworski.

Advertisement

Have a great day, from the Essential California team.

Ryan Fonseca, reporter
Defne Karabatur, fellow
Andrew Campa, Sunday reporter
Kevinisha Walker, multiplatform editor and Saturday reporter
Christian Orozco, assistant editor
Stephanie Chavez, deputy metro editor
Karim Doumar, head of newsletters

Check our top stories, topics and the latest articles on latimes.com.



Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending