Post

The Northern California Guides and Sportsmen’s Association (NCGASA) has filed a petition for regulatory change with the California Fish and Game Commission that would alter sport fishing such that only striped bass within a 10-inch size range could be legally harvested. Stripers less than 20 inches would be protected from harvest, as would stripers larger than 30 inches. The existing regulations allow anglers to keep any fish 18 inches or greater in length. The stated purpose of the proposed change to a “slot limit” is to contribute to the conservation of striped bass — to grow the population in the San Francisco Estuary and its tributary rivers and to boost […]
Just about every one of us was introduced to the scientific method in a middle-school science class. We were told that science happens when hypotheses about how things work are evaluated using observations and data. Facts we were told emerge when hypotheses stand up or don’t stand up to that test. And that we learned is how science is done  Of course, for the very most of us that straightforward explanation had no ready adolescent application, and the lesson like so many others was lost in the white noise of stuff that mattered at the time. Now, even for the teenagers who were later to become scientists, that early in-one-ear-and-out-the-other […]
If conservation scientists agree on one big thing, it’s that the destruction and fragmentation and degradation of habitats are the dominant threats to the persistence of most imperiled species.  Congress recognized that fact a half century ago in the purpose statement to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) – that is, “to provide a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved.” In that light it is curious that the principal focus of the ESA is on species rather than their habitats. Concurrent with a determination to list a species as endangered or threatened under the ESA, Congress instructs the Fish and Wildlife Service […]
This past week a number of federal, state, and local agencies took a significant first step toward negotiation of Voluntary Agreements (VAs) that could be the basis for implementing updated water quality objectives for California’s Bay-Delta. This is a notable milestone but much work remains. The participating agencies must agree upon the details of the VAs, and ultimately, the State Water Resources Control Board must consider whether to adopt the VAs as the means to implement the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the VA parties, and the term sheet attached to the MOU, explain the intent of those parties to present VAs to […]
American shad are the Chinook salmon of herring. Like Chinook salmon, adult American shad spend several years in the ocean before returning to rivers for spawning — they’re anadromous. Also, like salmon, anglers love shad because they’re fun to catch and good to eat. Well, okay, shad are not as good to eat as ocean caught salmon, but they are delicious when prepared well.  American shad are native to the east coast of North American. They were introduced to the Sacramento River after repeated releases of shad fry — transported via the then newly completed transcontinental railroad — between 1871 and 1880. Shad quickly became abundant in the Sacramento River […]
For the past three decades, the federal and California governments and diverse stakeholders have looked to scientists to explain the causes of the long-term population declines in fish species native to California’s Bay-Delta in an effort to chart a course to conserve those species. Water agencies across the State have invested billions of dollars in data collection and scientific research with the hope of finding clear answers to vexing problems stemming from more than a century of large-scale environmental change to the Pacific Coast’s most expansive estuary. Armed with a sense of urgency, regulatory agencies have felt the compulsion to act. “Clean narratives” sometimes supplied by scientists, but more often […]
Adaptive resource management is widely acknowledged as the de rigueur approach to the management of natural resources. It is a form of structured decision-making that facilitates use of the best available scientific information by resource managers, and it draws approval from the involvement of stakeholders in its design and implementation. So, when the Delta Reform Act of 2009 identified adaptive management as the format and approach to resource management, the State of California showed a commitment to ensuring that the best professional standards of resource-management practice would be used to address the damaged ecosystems and imperiled species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and adjacent San Francisco Bay.  The Act is anchored by […]
Even that fraction of the public that is the least interested in California’s environmental health likely has heard of the delta smelt — the imperiled fish of the upper San Francisco Estuary. The diminutive fish that’s launched way more than its share of controversy. The fish that appears to be inching closer to extinction by the month.  To be sure, the delta smelt’s numbers are in decline. And the apparent causes are many. The most abundant fishes in the Delta are non-native species that both compete with and prey upon the delta smelt. Contaminants known and unknown poison its waters. Summer-time water temperatures, increasing in real time with climate change, […]
Recently, at the direction of the Biden White House, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to rescind a Trump-era rule that defines the term “habitat” for the purpose of informing the designation of “critical habitat” by those two agencies under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). While the federal wildlife agencies offer certain rationales for the proposed rescission, there is no question that the primary motivation is to provide discretion to federal wildlife agency regions, offices, and line staff to make ad hoc determinations regarding the meaning of the term “habitat.” This shift away from an explicit definition of habitat that provides for transparency and consistency […]
California is at the southern boundary of the distributions of cold-water dependent fish species like salmon and steelhead. In many California rivers, flows and water temperatures challenge the performance and survival of salmonids even in years with average levels of precipitation. Drought and warmer summer air temperatures associated with climate change further exacerbate those stresses.  At and above the Sierra Nevada foothills, Central Valley rivers are heavily regulated.  The dams there provide a variety of benefits for humans — water supply, flood control, hydropower, and recreation — but have some predictable and well-understood adverse impacts on salmonid populations. Dams block upstream passage of adult salmonids, preventing those anadromous fishes from reaching […]
On his first day in office, January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.  In that Order, the President stated that “the Federal Government must be guided by the best science and be protected by processes that ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making.”  He went on to direct all federal agencies to address federal actions during the prior four years that conflict with that objective.  In an accompanying list of agency actions for review, the President identified precisely two biological opinions that his Administration would review to determine if they were “guided by the best science” and adopted […]
Recently, the Interagency Ecological Program (IEP) — an interagency consortium charged “to provide and integrate relevant and timely ecological information for management of the Bay-Delta” — released a report presenting data and studies regarding a major conservation action for delta smelt, referred to as the Fall X2 Action. The Fall X2 Action purports to benefit the delta smelt during the autumn by increasing outflow through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta during that period in years where there is above normal precipitation in the preceding winter and spring.  Increasing outflow through the Delta moves the position of the tidally influenced low-salinity zone westward. The federal and state wildlife agencies contend that this action […]
Processing...
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Subscribe to DeltaCurrents
ErrorHere