We support scientific research to improve water resources management and policy with the ultimate objective of improving the lives of Californians and protecting California’s natural resources. Investigators who receive funding from the Center for California Water Resources Policy and Management carry out studies using data on the imperiled native fishes and environmental factors in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to evaluate management-relevant hypotheses, quantitatively relating the performance of species listed under state and federal endangered species acts to their dynamic, degraded habitats. The Center also funds research aimed at providing guidance to the fish and wildlife and water-resource agencies regarding standards of conservation practice.
Delta smelt have nearly ceased to appear in “pelagic” fish surveys carried out in their narrow geographic range in the upper San Francisco Estuary. As trawl-generated index values for delta smelt have declined over the past quarter century – understand there is no reliable estimate of the size of the delta smelt population — the chorus of voices advocating for captive rearing and releases of the species has grown louder. When in 2019 the Bureau of Reclamation proposed to include development of a conservation hatchery as a component of its ongoing operation of the federal Central Valley Project, it was building on work to culture delta smelt that was initiated