Monday, November 16, 2009


The SARSAS organization (Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead) has just completed an ambitious and very successful year and a half. We have made significant enough progress that there is a high likelihood of salmon and steelhead returning in numbers that will bring back a positive spawn in the Auburn Ravine. That's great news, but with success comes additional work. If we were a business we would be at that point where the business would now begin hiring employees in larger numbers. SARSAS is an all-volunteer organization; therefore, it is time for us to reach out and call for you to volunteer. Your skill, knowledge and motivation to work on behalf of salmon restoration will move SARSAS forward and at a faster pace.
There is a niche just right for you. You may have lots of time to provide or you may have a very limited amount but all assistance is welcome and will be appreciated. How can you help? Well, take a look at some of the needs and see if you might be just the right person for the job. Don't see the right job? Just contact us and let us know what you see as your skill or desire and we will work with you to find a way for you to succeed and at the same time make a valuable contribution to SARSAS. Here is a partial list of some needs we currently have:
1. clerical; 2. various computer skills such as word processing, building graphs and charts using excel, power point projects, development of data bases, web site marketing using twitter, Facebook and other online uses, or other services you can provide with technology; 3. fisheries expertise; 4. marketing skills; 5.sales skills; 6. engineering/ especially those related to hydrology or civil; 7. expertise in stream bed and bank restoration; 8. labor of all sorts; 8. und raising skills; 9. grant writing skills or assistance in application writing;. 10. education expertise especially developing curriculum and lessons related to k-12 programs about salmon and restoration of salmon; 11. telephoning 12 artistic skills; 13. how about wandering up the middle of the Auburn Ravine counting salmon and other in stream activities? 14. assisting SARSAS in the development of a salmon festival in Lincoln in October of 2010; 15. have another idea or role you would like to volunteer in? Just let us know. There are many other ways you can provide help so just contact us and we will find the right fit for you. Please contact me or Scott Johnson at

We at SARSAS look forward to working with you as we all work to bring salmon and steelhead back to the Auburn Ravine.

Jack Sanchez
Founder and Board President

Monday, November 9, 2009

Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS) Update, Nov 5, 2009

Many accomplishments have been made recently. The Healthy Auburn Ravine Workshop in Lincoln was a success with many local attendees learning what to do to help return salmon and steelhead to the Auburn Ravine. We had a documented sighting of a salmon in the Auburn Ravine on Monday, March 23, 2009, by three reliable people, Richard Harris and Lisa Thompson, UCBerkeley and Edmund Sullivan, Placer Legacy, looking for sites on the Auburn Ravine to take attendees to during our May 2 workshop in Lincoln. They spotted a Chinook salmon from the Fowler Bridge a few miles upstream from Lincoln. This sighting is a defining moment for SARSAS because no salmon has recently been spotted above Lincoln. Two fishermen reported to Board Member John Rabe they sighted two large salmon below the Hemphill Dam upstream from Lincoln. If one salmon is sighted, how many more were not seen … ten, fifty or a hundred?

All flashboard dams downstream from Lincoln are now in compliance with NOAA regulations for upstream fish passage. What the next great push will be is getting screens installed on all diversions canals that takes water our of the Ravine for irrigation. Unless screens are installed, salmon smolt and steelhead returning to the ocean to grow up will be entrained into rice fields and pastures and die without ever returning even to the ocean. So SARSAS is now working with landowners and especially with General Manager Brad Arnold of the South Sutter Water District which operates five diversion dams to get screening in place. Once the diversions are screened, then the Ravine will be guaranteed a viable anadromous fish run.

To get fish above the city of Lincoln, SARSAS is working with Placer Legacy and NID to create fish passage around the Lincoln Gaging Station, half mile downstream of Highway 65 in the center of Lincoln, the Hemphill Dam, adjacent to the Turkey Creek Gold Course two miles upstream from Lincoln and finally the Gold Hill Diversion Dam, a mile upstream from Gold Hill Road in Newcastle. Once fish can pass these barriers, they can swim to Wise Powerhouse, one mile from the city of Auburn and then the real work begins to get the salmon to Auburn School Park Preserve, behind Auburn City Hall to spawn.
NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner continues his low key, collaborative approach to working with landowner to secure fish passage by compliance with regulations that provide passage for the fishes to get to spawning gravels and are able to return to the Pacific form up to five years on maturing before they return to the Ravine to spawn, die and start the cycle all over again.

Board member Stan Nader has been methodically connecting us with the local fathers in Lincoln and plans are underway for a SARSAS-Lincoln Salmon Festival to be held in Lincoln on October 23, 2010, at McBean Park on the Auburn Ravine. We have made countless beneficial connections and have talked with many groups in the Lincoln area, all of whom are supportive of SARSAS. Plans are in the germinal stage for a Salmon Festival in Auburn. Both will include the Native American sacred and religious ceremony Calling Back the Salmon conducted by Bill Jacobson, who was taught the ceremony by Pacific Northwest tribes.
SARSAS has finalized an Alliance with the Washoe Tribes of Nevada and California to mutually work to return anadromous fish to the Auburn Ravine. SARSAS is pleased that Darrel Cruz and the Washoes, headquartered in Gardnerville, NV, have joined us in our work on the Auburn Ravine.
Unfortunately, there has been another sewage spill into the Auburn Ravine in the city of Auburn on November 3. The city of Auburn responded quickly to stop the leak and clean up the sewage.

SARSAS Grant Writer Cathie DuChene has secured a five thousand dollar grant from the Tides Foundation to help return salmon and steelhead to the entire length of the Auburn Ravine, the SARSAS mission. Scott Johnson, SARSAS Event Coordinator, has secured grants of about fifteen hundred dollars for educational outreach.

This weekend the Pescatore Winery and Vineyards on Ridge Road in Newcastle is hosting a Wild Salmon and Tri-tip Fundraising Dinner on Friday and Saturday, November 6 and 7, 2009. The tickets are all sold.

The outpouring of community support such as Ken Clark offering the equipment of his excavating company is solidifying the realization of the SARSAS mission. If the entire communities of Lincoln and Auburn support SARSAS’ effort, the salmon in the Ravine will quickly become a reality.
You can help return salmon and steelhead to the Auburn Ravine by sending donations to SARSAS, PO Box 4269, Auburn, California, or by volunteering to write grants, operate a SARSAS booth at local festivals, represent SARSAS at other functions, coordinate an activity, monitor a section of the Auburn Ravine, perform water quality tests, speak to service and other clubs on behalf of SARSAS, do clerical work or research on fishes, find a way to contribute what you do best, write for SARSAS, all by calling 530 888 0281.Many accomplishments have been made recently. The Healthy Auburn Ravine Workshop in Lincoln was a success with many local attendees learning what to do to help return salmon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Next Step - Raising Money for Ten Fish Screens

November 8, 2009

Now that salmon can pretty much get to Lincoln, the next step is to get them back to the Pacific if and when they spawn. Between the Sac River and Lincoln, starting at the lower end moving upstream, the Auburn Ravine contains eight diversion dams: 1)Coppin, 2)Davis, 3)Tom Glenn, 4)Lincoln Ranch Duck Club, 5)Aitken Ranch, 6)Moore, 7)Nelson Dams and the 8)Lincoln Gaging Station. Please memorize these eight names.

In order for the fish returning to the Pacific to spend 3-5 years maturing, they must not be entrained into rice fields, pastures and other ag fields through the canals that divert water. Without screens on these diversions, the fish will end up in fields and die. These diversion canals must be screened so that the fish can stay in the Auburn Ravine to reach the Sac River and continue their odyssey to SF Bay and the open waters of the Pacific.

I am asking for your thinking and input on this plan. We are working with Brad Arnold of South Sutter Water District to get his Board’s commitment to begin screening the Coppin, Tom Glenn, and Aitken Ranch dams. We are working with Rich Arruda on the Lincoln Ranch Duck Club Dam. I will work with Don Tanner to gain access to the Moore and Nelson dams to contact the owners. Most of the eight dams have one diversion canal with the Davis Dam having three. So we are probably talking about at least ten screens needed and there may be multiple diversions on the Moore and Nelson Dams.

What I am thinking about is creating a community outreach program that secures one business in Auburn and/or Lincoln to adopt a diversion canal and raise money to pay for one screen. SARSAS will not ask the business to contribute any money itself but to find a way to raise money. The average cost Tim Buller told me would be $300,000 per screen, but Ron Ott believes many would cost much less. We would need at least ten businesses, each adopting a screen to make the plan work. How can businesses raise funds?

Ron Ott will be giving his presentation on Friday, November 13, at 9a.m. at John Rabe’s home, 980 Stonewood, Newcastle, CA 95658, to help us decide what type of screen is best for each diversion canal and what each screen costs. Please try to attend because our next major task is to become knowledgeable about screens and their costs. Then we can implement this plan.

What we need now is a name for the plan, i.e. Invite a Salmon to the Pacific, Send a Salmon Home, This is My Salmon … some name we all agree on. Then how do we do outreach to the communities to secure business sponsors, and what will SARSAS’ role be? Board Member Kathleen Harris of Harris Industrial Gasses likes the idea and is already working on some details.

No idea is too outlandish. We are brainstorming now so send me all your ideas.
Please contact us at P O Bx 4269, Auburn CA95604, or 530 888 0281.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How SARSAS Will Return Salmon to the Auburn Ravine, Part 1


For purposes of this report the Auburn Ravine is divided into sections as follows:

1. Coppin Dam to Highway 65

2. Highway 65 east to Fowler Bridge

3. Fowler bridge to the Ophir tunnel

4. Ophir tunnel to the City of Auburn


A. There are 11 man made barriers between Coppin Dam and highway 65. Ten of the barriers are flashboard dams and one is a gaging station.
The ten flashboard dams were a problem as not all were being taken down thus preventing upstream migration. SARSAS, NOAA and the SSWD work together and all dams are removed on or before October 15th.
The Lincoln gaging station is the remaining barrier west of highway 65 that needs to be mitigated.

B. There are numerous irrigation ditches and pumps that will require fish screens. We know where most pumps are located and we know where all irrigation canals/ditches are located. We know most of the canals are part of the jurisdiction of South Sutter Water District. Further we know that SSWD has been cited by NOAA for non-compliance regarding screening.

C. We know that the Auburn Ravine between the Coppin Dam and highway 65 is ill suited for salmon and steelhead spawning. Further, we know that salmon and steelhead can navigate the distance from the Sacramento River to the City of Lincoln in less than a 24 hour period if they choose to do so. We also know there are numerous resting pools along this span of the Auburn Ravine. We know that gravel restoration projects along this stretch of the Auburn Ravine would be ill advised as water temperatures are somewhat higher, and continuing siltation is probable. We know there is ample water in the Auburn Ravine in this area to allow for upstream migration during those times salmon and steelhead may access the Auburn Ravine. In conclusion, we know the stretch of the river between Coppin Dam and highway 65 is a reliable conduit for the transportation of salmon, steelhead and their fry to utilize.

D. We know after flashboard dams are put in place sometime around April 15th of each year that these dams may provide some type of barrier for downstream migration. We know ample water overflows some of these dams and others will need some type of notch. We know the Coppin dam will need further study and recommendation in order to assure downstream migration of fishes.

E. We know this stretch of the river is mainly within levee banks and in some locations has cut banks that contribute to ongoing siltation issues. And finally, we know some stretches have little or no cover along the banks while other stretches have excellent shading and cover from predators.

F. We know that beaver are problematic along this section of the Ravine and in some cases may restrict upstream migration.

G. We know SARSAS efforts along this section of the Auburn Ravine will be limited to assuring that flashboard dams are placed and removed according to regulations. Further SARSAS efforts will be related to screening of ditches and pumps and continuing an ongoing collaborative relationship with the management of South Sutter Water District.

How SARSAS Will Return Salmon to the Auburn Ravine, Part 2

Analysis of AR, Part 2----- WHAT WE KNOW

A. There is one barrier between highway 65 and Fowler road. The barrier is the Hemphill Dam located approximately two miles east of Lincoln along the north edge of Turkey Creek golf course. The dam is a flashboard dam with a formidable concrete apron plunging into a deep pool. We know the flashboard dam is taken down on or before October 15th. We know the dam creates a lake about four to five feet deep. This lake is approximately 150 feet wide and backs up a considerable distance. We know this dam differs considerably from all other flashboard dams along the Auburn Ravine in that the flashboard dam is not level with the downstream. The result is a considerable amount of silt above the dam. Silt is from bank to bank and backs up the length of the lake (a considerable distance) This portion of the Ravine would not support spawning. We know NID is looking at several alternatives regarding the future of the Hemphill dam. There is one pump serving the Hemphill dam and it will require screening.

B. The lake formed behind the dam would make an excellent holding pond for smolt. PCWA water temperature data show favorable year round water temperatures in this location. Further, the water is deep and protected from many predators. Also, there is ample shading of the waters in this area. Additionally, we know based upon water quality testing by the Lincoln Waste Water Treatment plant that conditions are quite favorable for trout, salmon and steelhead in this stretch of the Ravine.

C. SARSAS members have walked considerable lengths of the Auburn Ravine between Highway 193 and the Fowler Bridge. We know that silt in this section is minimal, cut banks are limited and spawning gravel is superior in quality. We have researched gravel needs by study online and this study supports our observation of the gravel along this section of the Auburn Ravine. Previous writings have reported a lower quality and quantity of spawning gravel than what we have learned in our direct observations of the stream bed. We now know that the potential for successful spawning of salmonids in this section of the Auburn Ravine is favorable. Further, this section has exceptional resting ponds with very favorable stream depth even in observed low water conditions typical of October flows.

D. We know there are beavers along this section of the Ravine, but there is an absence of the dams that are characteristic of the areas west of Highway 193.

E. Overall we are encouraged by this section of the Auburn Ravine for its ability to support spawning and rearing. This is far more encouraging than our knowledge in the past as we have done the observations and research to support what we now know versus some of the reports we read in the past.
We know this may require further studies and observation.

F. We will consider this area for spawning observation this year.

G. We know four salmon were observed in this section of the Ravine last year. Three salmon were observed in the pool below the Hemphill dam on December 8, 2008 by three fishermen. One salmon was reported below the Fowler Bridge in March of 2009. We know the salmon spotted at the Fowler Bridge was a salmon as experts observed this fish. The fish observed below the Hemphill dam were described as between six to ten pounds. These fish could have been salmon or steelhead.

How SARSAS Will Return Salmon to the Auburn Ravine, Part 3

Analysis of AR, SECTION 3, Rabe------- WHAT WE KNOW

A. There is one barrier on this section of the Ravine. It's popular name is the Gold Hill Dam. This is a formidable dam with no possibility of fish passage in its current configuration. There is a large canal at the dam site on the south side of the Auburn Ravine.
We know this dam will require a retrofit of some type of fish ladder. We also know the canal will require screening. NID has stated they are planning for these needs.

B. We know this section of the Auburn Ravine has the highest quality spawning beds and rearing environment. This is based on previously reported data as well as direct observation. We know best steelhead spawning beds are above the Gold Hill Dam (See Appendix D report) We know by reading the PCWA temperature charts that this section has excellent year round temperature required by trout, salmon and steelhead. We know by DF&G reports there are healthy populations of trout and steelhead in this section. Further, we observe large quantities of fry although we do not know what those fry may be.
We know this section has excellent water quality.

C. We know this section of the Auburn Ravine had significant numbers of salmon and steelhead prior to the late 1980'S. DF&G reports. Further, we have talked with reliable sources who witnessed significant numbers of, "stacked" salmon in pools all along this section of the Auburn Ravine. Observations span the period 1958-1988. Some spoke joyously about how they used pitchforks to catch salmon while a number spoke of, "blowing them out of the water with their shotguns"

D. We know there are Beaver within this section but they rarely build dams.

E We know there are land owners willing to have restoration projects on their property within this section of the Auburn Ravine.

How SARSAS Will Return Salmon to the Auburn Ravine, Part 4

Analysis of AR, Part 4, Rabe 11 05 09----- WHAT WE KNOW

A. We know there are a number of barriers on this section of the Auburn Ravine, some man made and some natural. There is a significant cataract beginning just above the Ophir tunnel. The Ravine flows underneath Interstate 80, underneath a portion of Old Auburn and emerges as a small stream in a beautiful restored park. We know our Mission envisions this as the last spawning area on the Auburn Ravine.

B. We know it will cost approximately $36,000.00 to do a feasibility study in order to determine if salmon and steelhead can navigate the cataract, and the remaining man made barriers along this section of the Auburn Ravine

C. We know water temperatures are adequate to support salmonid species. We know there are some resting ponds, some gravel beds suitable for spawning and during the winter, adequate flows to support both spawning and rearing of salmonids.

D. We have worked with NID and PG&E in order to assure adequate water during the October 15th to November 8 water outage each year. We know that PG&E has altered their ditch cleaning procedures and the result has been a superior flow during this year's outage compared to the past several years.
We know this has occurred due to the successful collaborative process SARSAS has developed and implemented.

SUMMARY----- We know that SARSAS has made a major difference regarding the fate of salmon and steelhead in the Auburn Ravine during the past one and one half years. Our collaborative process, highly effective volunteers, our strategic plan, to name a few have moved Auburn Ravine to the forefront in creating what is now likely to be the most successful project in the county. We know salmon and steelhead are returning, we know the tenacity of our drive will accomplish our mission.

Blocked Pipe Sends Raw Sewage Flowing into Auburn Ravine in City of Auburn, Ca

11/3/09 | 13 comments | 1105 views
Blocked pipe sends raw sewage flowing into Auburn Ravine Creek
By Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer

Auburn city employee Miguel Bravo removes a motorized camera used Tuesday to probe a sewer line near the Highway 49-Elm Avenue crossroads following a spill into Auburn Ravine Creek.

A plugged line sent raw sewage flowing into fragile Auburn Ravine Creek Tuesday.

A city of Auburn Public Works Department estimate calculated 90 gallons flowed into the creek.

But a Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead spokesman said his group believes the amount of the spill to be much more.

Jack Sanchez, founder of the fish and river preservation group, said a member of his organization reported the spill to Placer County environmental health officials Monday evening but no action was taken. SARSAS had received two reports about a terrible stench by then, he said.

“They sent someone after dark and couldn’t find anything,” Sanchez said. “It ran all night. That’s a tremendous amount of sewage.”

Bernie Schroeder, Auburn Public Works engineering division manager, said the city was called out at about 11 a.m. Tuesday and discovered a manhole overflowing at the back of Pace Auto Sales. The sewage was flowing from the manhole over the bank into the creek at a rate of about three gallons a minute, Schroeder said.

City employees witnessed about 30 minutes of overflow caused by the blockage, she said. Normal flows in the pipe were restored after rags were removed, Schroeder added.

The section of the ravine is an exposed area covered in blackberry bushes next to a strip of businesses along the 300-block of Grass Valley Highway in Auburn. Lisa Kodl, of Auburn Bike Works, 350 Grass Valley Highway, said the sewage stench was strong in the morning but eventually cleared out.

Sanchez said steelhead runs are going to be impacted by a spill that highlights the fragile nature of a stream running through the city.

“It’s terrible that they can’t stop polluting the Auburn Ravine,” he said.