Sunday, September 13, 2009

The SARSAS Plan for Save Salmon and Steelhead in California and the Pacific Marine Fishery

The Urgency of Saving the Salmon

Jack L.Sanchez
Volunteer Coordinator/President/Founder

The people of California are overwhelmingly frustrated because they have justifiably lost confidence in government and large corporations because they are self-serving at the expense of the people, the environment, other living things and the planet. We must now rely almost exclusively upon individuals and group initiative in order to take charge of our own destiny. What does this dilemma mean for the people of California? What it means really is a New Manifest Destiny for Californians. Therefore let’s focus on one piece of the big puzzle: the restoration of salmon in California.
When salmon can no longer survive on this planet, can
humanity be far behind?
But a solution is possible. Yes, the people of California, volunteering together can save salmon and steelhead. People must ask themselves whether or not salmon and steelhead have any time left on
the planet without the help of the people.
The Golden Age of Salmon and Steelhead is likely long past, but the people working together can ensure at least their continued
existence. California salmon were thought to be extinct as
early as 1865 as a result of sediment that choked the
streams from hydraulic mining and clear cut logging. The salmon of California are now once again in danger for many reasons:
global warming, pollution, poisons, man-made drugs,
lack of fish passage and an overall degradation of spawning
beds. Part of the solution is not to argue for years but to open up California streams as soon as possible for salmon spawning. The SARSAS Plan (see, formulated for the Auburn Ravine, is the
simplest way to save salmon and should be implemented on all
streams within our state immediately. If every stream were
to have a volunteer group working to do what SARSAS is doing
with the Auburn Ravine, that is, to return salmon and
steelhead to its entire length and secure fish passage,
adequate water and spawning beds, then salmon can once again
thrive in significant numbers.
The line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it,
they will come” can be paraphrased and applied to all
salmon: “If you clear it, they will come.” SARSAS and other volunteer groups with the assistance of the governor, legislators and the federal Water Czar can encourage and help other groups do with
other streams what SARSAS is accomplishing with the Auburn
Will the governor and the legislators help? SARSAS
urges the Governor’s staff, both houses of California government and
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as well as his water Czar,
David Hayes, to help. The governor and legislators can provide incentives to encourage other organizations to take ownership of particular streams and make them suitable for salmon passage. They could help streamline the 501c3 process and perhaps add small incentives to volunteer groups once they have a strong strategic plan in place. Salmon are at considerable risk and the governor and legislators have the ability to connect each group to the right agencies in a quick and efficient manner to fast track volunteer groups’ efforts toward salmon restoration.
The SARSAS Plan for the Auburn Ravine can serve as a model for other organizations to work on other streams. It is a simple but
effective plan easily adaptable by any group. Additionally,
some SARSAS board members are available to assist other groups in implementing the SARSAS plan. Imagine the impact of a thousand salmon in the Auburn Ravine and then multiply that by several hundred streams or perhaps all 738 streams that enter the San Joaquin, Sacramento and American River watersheds. Salmon and steelhead numbers certainly will and can thrive in this environment. If only three percent of the smolt return to each of these streams, the
result will be tremendous. “Clear it (stream) and they will come.”
When SARSAS became an all-volunteer 501c3, public benefit corporation with officers and a nine-person Board of Directors, it was able to more seriously work on the Auburn Ravine to identify the barriers to salmon and work collaboratively to retrofit them. SARSAS then set about creating a working network of state, local and federal agencies, county supervisors, city councilmen, other non-governmental organizations, landowners and individuals, all meeting once a month under the auspices of Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt. The group works collaboratively, cooperatively, to reach its goals as smoothly and as quickly as possible. Additionally, SARSAS recently acquired the volunteer services of a grant writer and is now applying for funding.
Is the task completed? Of course not, but, in a short period of time with many individuals and groups on board, SARSAS will reach its goals, missions and ultimately, the restoration of salmon and steelhead at a very low cost. Are there problems with the SARSAS Plan? Perhaps, and if there are, they are very minor. Is this explanation an over-simplification of a very complex problem? Not at all. Even if the SARSAS Plan is partially successful, salmon and steelhead will have one more river to spawn within, and new life will abound. An alternate plan to truck salmon above and around dams is feasible and SARSAS wholeheartedly supports it, but it is very expensive. Our plan costs thousands of dollars, the alternative, billions of dollars. Both can help the salmon, but at what cost in
time and real dollars?
What can you do to assist SARSAS? First and foremost, you can contact the governor, legislators, federal
officials and local entities and ask them to grasp and support the SARSAS Plan. Then, please contact Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and California Water Czar David Hayes and ask them to work with SARSAS.
Let them know that the SARSAS Plan will provide successful outcomes for salmon and steelhead and, if adopted for a significant number of streams in central and northern California, the plan can
assist in the restoration of the Pacific commercial fishery.
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful outcome … being both a benefit to mankind and to the fish at the same time? Since many tributaries to the
Sacramento/San Joaquin Rivers are blocked by minor diversion
dams, salmon cannot currently spawn in numbers large enough
to prevent a decrease in their number.
Using the SARSAS Plan as a model for saving salmon in the Auburn Ravine may be enough to begin the restoration of the Pacific Coast
Salmon Fishery and put thousands of unemployed fisherman back into their boats, free sport fisherman to follow their passion and help Californians feel good about themselves because they did something to help themselves, their children, and the fishes
SARSAS needs your help, political will and public support to finish its work on the Auburn Ravine and to provide assistance to others who may wish to develop their streams.
Please contact us at Volunteers, concentrating and uniting their efforts, can work quickly enough to revive our salmon population toward health and well being.
In the final analysis, “all things merge into one and a river runs through it. We are ALL HAUNTED BY WATER”(and the salmon in it). The SARSAS Plan allows people to do something about the destiny of salmon, and thereby do something about their own destinies.
Again, when salmon can’t make it in our world, neither can

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