Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fish Ladder on the Auburn Ravine at the Lincoln Gauging Station is Completed so Salmon and Steelhead for the First Time in Years Have Access to Spawn

December 7, 2011
Progress in Returning Salmon and Steelhead to Auburn Ravine
A fish screen has been installed on the Scheiber Ranch paid for by Rancher Albert Scheiber. ISI designed, built and installed the fish screen. The Schreiber Ranch was crossed by the new Highway 65 Bypass over the Auburn Ravine. The new screen is located immediately downstream of the new bridge. Albert Schreiber conducted a tour for several SARSAS members last week. The fish screen is a self-cleaning single cone electric powered cleaner. The screen keeps fish in the Auburn Ravine and allows the rancher to take water through the screen without the screen clogging with debris.
Any rancher/farmer living on the Auburn Ravine is encouraged to contain SARSAS (530 888 0281 or Family Water Alliance ( 530 844 2310 or to inquire about securing funding to install a fish screen on his canal or pump.
NID is currently installing a fish ladder on the Lincoln Gauging Station which will allow salmon and steelhead to pass over the dam this year. The projected date of completion is the end of November this year. Many salmon died trying to get over this dam last year. Any fish that arrive before the fish ladder is finished will be trucked above the dam so all this year’s run has the potential to survive and reach spawning grounds below the Hemphill Dam which is another NID barrier.
NID is currently planning the retrofit of Hemphill Dam upstream of Lincoln near Turkey Creek Golf Course. When the Hemphill Dam is retrofitted for fish passage, salmon and steelhead with then be able to reach the NID Gold Hill Dam two miles upstream from Gold Hill Road. Plans for the retrofit of the Gold Hill Dam have not yet been addressed by NID.
Now all eight dams below Lincoln are in compliance with NOAA regulations, thanks to NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner (who just received the SARSAS King Salmon Award for his work on AR). That means all dams are taken down NLT Oct 15 and stay down until April 15 each year to allow salmonids to reach spawning grounds on the upper Auburn Ravine.
The LGS Fish Ladder currently being installed by NID will be complemented by the Fish Screen, spearheaded by Brad Arnold of South Sutter Water District, to be installed on the Pleasant Grove Canal to prevent fish returning to the Pacific Ocean from being entrained in agricultural fields. The Family Water Alliance secured funding for this fish screen, which has a target date on installation the beginning of 2012.
Ron Ott, SARSAS Fish Passage Specialist, says that the screen on the Pleasant Grove Canal has the potential to keep huge numbers of the anadromous fish returning to the Pacific Ocean in the Auburn Ravine avoiding entrainment.
Much is happening and with each addition, salmon and steelhead can swim and spawn farther up Auburn Ravine, getting ever closer to the SARSAS mission of returning salmon and steelhead to the entire thirty-three mile length of the Auburn Ravine.
The Auburn Ravine is not connected to the American River; it is a tributary of the Sacramento River. It starts in Auburn, flows through Ophir and Lincoln, through miles of fields into the Eastside Canal, the Natomas Cross Canal and enters the Sacramento River at Verona, just downstream of the mouth of the Feather River.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Warming Water Could be the End of Salmon

Spring-run Chinook salmon, photographed in Butte Creek, upstream from Centerville, Calif., may become extinct in the future due to warming waters. (Allen Harthorn, Friends of Butte Creek/photo)

Warming streams could spell the end of spring-run Chinook salmon in California by the end of the century, according to a study by scientists at UC Davis, the Stockholm Environment Institute and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

There are options for managing water resources to protect the salmon runs, although they would impact hydroelectric power generation, said Lisa Thompson, director of the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture at UC Davis. A paper describing the study is published online this week by the Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.

“There are things that we can do so that we have the water we need and also have something left for the fish,” Thompson said.

Working with Marisa Escobar and David Purkey at SEI’s Davis office, Thompson and colleagues at UC Davis used a model of the Butte Creek watershed, taking into account the dams and hydropower installations along the river, combined with a model of the salmon population, to test the effect of different water management strategies on the fish. They fed in scenarios for climate change out to 2099 from models developed by David Yates at NCAR in Boulder, Colo.

In almost all scenarios, the fish died out because streams became too warm for adults to survive the summer to spawn in the fall.

The only option that preserved salmon populations, at least for a few decades, was to reduce diversions for hydropower generation at the warmest time of the year.

“If we leave the water in the stream at key times of the year, the stream stays cooler and fish can make it through to the fall,” Thompson said.

Summer, of course, is also peak season for energy demand in California. But Thompson noted that it might be possible to generate more power upstream while holding water for salmon at other locations.

Hydropower is often part of renewable energy portfolios designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Purkey said, but it can complicate efforts to adapt water management regimes to a warming world. Yet it need not be all-or-nothing, he said.

“The goal should be to identify regulatory regimes which meet ecosystem objectives with minimal impact on hydropower production,” he said. “The kind of work we did in Butte Creek is essential to seeking these outcomes.”

There are also other options that are yet to be fully tested, Thompson said, such as storing cold water upstream and dumping it into the river during a heat wave. That would both help fish and create a surge of hydropower.

Salmon are already under stress from multiple causes, including pollution, and introduced predators and competitors, Thompson said. Even if those problems were solved, temperature alone would finish off the salmon — but that problem can be fixed, she said.

“I swim with these fish, they’re magnificent,” Thompson said. “We don’t want to give up on them.”

Other co-authors of the paper are graduate student Christopher Mosser and Professor Peter Moyle, both at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, UC Davis. The study was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

About UC Davis
For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 32,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget that exceeds $678 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s):
Lisa Thompson, Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture, (530) 754-5732 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (530) 754-5732 end_of_the_skype_highlighting,
Marion Davis, Stockholm Environment Institute, (617) 245-0895 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (617) 245-0895 end_of_the_skype_highlighting,
Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (530) 752-4533 end_of_the_skype_highlighting,

The SARSAS Plan for Saving Salmon and Steelhead in California and the Pacific States

Jack L. Sanchez,
Volunteer Coordinator/President/Founder
501C3 EIN 80-0291680
Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS)
P. O. Box 4269
Auburn, CA 95604
530 888 0281

Yes, the people of California, volunteering together, can save the salmon. The people must spearhead the saving of the salmon because time is critical. The salmon has little time left on the planet without the help of the people.

Salmon expert Peter B Moyle, Professor of Fish Biology, University of California Davis, in
“Multiple Causes of Central Valley Chinook Salmon Decline,” Mar 31, 2008, wrote,

Ever since Euro-Americans arrived in the Central Valley, Chinook salmon populations have been in decline. Historic populations probably averaged 1.5-2.0 million (or more) adult fish per year. The high populations resulted from four distinct runs of Chinook salmon (fall, late-fall, winter, and spring runs) taking advantage of the diverse and productive freshwater habitats created by the cold rivers flowing from the Sierra Nevada. When the juveniles moved seaward, they found abundant food and good growing conditions in the wide valley floodplains and complex San Francisco Estuary, including the Delta. The sleek salmon smolt then reached the ocean, where the southward flowing, cold, California Current and coastal upwelling together created one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world, full of the small shrimp and fish that salmon require to grow rapidly to large size. In the past, salmon populations no doubt varied as droughts reduced stream habitats and as the ocean varied in its productivity, but it is highly unlikely the numbers ever even approached the low numbers we are seeing now.

This Golden Age of Salmon is long past but the people can insure at least their continued existence. California salmon were thought to be extinct as early as1865 because of the sediment that choked off the streams from hydraulic mining and strip logging. Salmon are miraculously resilient and they survived. The salmon of California are now once again nearing extinction for many reasons: global warming, pollution, upwelling of ocean currents, lack of fish passage and spawning areas. The main fix we can do quickly is not to argue about the root cause but to quickly open California streams as soon as possible for salmon spawning. Whatever the reasons, a clear, simple plan is necessary to save them. The SARSAS Plan, formulated for the Auburn Ravine, is the simplest way to save salmon from certain extinction and should be implemented on all streams in California immediately. What is the SARSAS Plan?

If every stream in California has 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 grounds, then salmon will not go extinct. The line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you built it, they will come” can be paraphrased to be applied to anadromous fish:: “If you clear it, they will come”; that is, SARSAS with the cooperation of Governor Jerry Brown and the federal Salmon Czar David Hayes (see Sacbee editorial, “We Might need Salmon Czar, Too,” July 8 09) can encourage other groups to do with other streams, what SARSAS ( is doing with the Auburn Ravine. By providing fish passage on all 738 tributaries to the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, salmon will have many spawning grounds currently denied them.

Will the Governor help? SARSAS is urging his staff and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his Water Czar David Hayes to help. President Obama must appoint a Salmon Czar to keep the salmon from going extinct. Only the Governor with his sweeping influence over California agencies and the Obama Administration can coordinate this program and create an incentive program to encourage other organizations to take ownership of particular streams and retrofit them completely for salmon passage so that citizens become the instruments of the salmon salvation. We the People must pressure the President and the Governor to save our salmon. Salmon are moving closer to extinct while we do nothing. Acting now is imperative. Only the Governor can fast track the California 501C3 process, necessary for collaboration and fundraising, and connect each group to the right agencies quickly and efficiently.

An All-Volunteer Oversight Group (A-VOG) for each stream needs to have a lead person who can be connected directly to all California environmental agencies but especially with DFG, CVWQCB, DWR, and EPA. Each group must have an active Special Agent from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a federal agency, to provide access to problem areas on each stream over which only the federal government has jurisdiction. The Governor and citizens of California working together with NOAA will save the salmon. Most of the work of saving the salmon will be performed by volunteers, but they must have the coordination from the Governor to network with California government agencies to provide advice and services.

Let’s look at the SARSAS Plan for the Auburn Ravine that can serve as a model for other organizations to work on other streams. To start with, the Auburn Ravine has thirteen diversion dams on its length. SARSAS has put ten flashboard diversion dam in compliance with fish passage, two NID dams are currently being retrofitted, which leaves one dam, the Gold Hill Dam to be retrofitted. When this dam is completed, 32 of the 33 miles will be open to salmon. If we can get 2,500 egg-laying female salmon (Butte Creek near Chico had 6,000 Spring Run salmon in 2008) into this Ravine, each laying up to 8,000 eggs, the Auburn Ravine will contribute up to 20,000,000 (2,500 times 8,000) fry just in one stream, the Auburn Ravine.

If only three percent of those salmon return to the Auburn Ravine after maturing in the Pacific, that is 600,000 salmon, which is almost 15 times the total number of salmon (39, 037) that returned to the entire Sacramento River in 2009 with fewer than 12,000 salmon making it to Coleman National Fish Hatchery near Anderson on the Sacramento River. Remember that the Auburn Ravine is just one stream in California; there are over 738 tributary to the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

When SARSAS became an All-volunteer, 501c3, public benefit corporation with officers and an eleven-person Board of Directors, it was able to more seriously work on the Auburn Ravine by identifying all thirteen man-made barriers and working to retrofit them. SARSAS then set about creating a network of state and federal governmental agencies, county supervisors, city councilmen, other NGO’s, landowners and individuals, all meeting once a month under the auspices of Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt. The group worked collaboratively, cooperatively, to reach its respective goals as smoothly and as quickly as possible. SARSAS recently acquired the volunteer services of grant writers and one of the nation’s foremost experts on fish passage, Ron Ott.

Having all principals at the same table monthly working in a non-confrontational atmosphere facilitated accomplishing much in a short time. Much progress has been made but much yet needs to be done.

Working with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Special Agent, SARSAS contacted all private owners of diversion dams on the AR. Many owners simply needed to be reminded of their specific water rights and by not observing those rights doing harm to fishes. Education was and is key. All ten flashboard dams with the cooperation of the landowners were quickly brought into compliance to make them passable for fish. The remaining three dams are owned by a water agency, Nevada Irrigation District (NID). Working with Placer Legacy, NID was able to fund and begin constructing a fish ladder and a fish channel to create fish passage over the Lincoln Gaging Station and the Hemphill Dam scheduled to be completed by the end of summer 2011.

The remaining dam is the NID Gold Hill Diversion Dam, which will be addressed after the other two dams are retrofitted. When the GHDD is retrofitted for fish passage, 32 of the 33 miles length of the Auburn Ravine will be ready for fish passage and much of it opened to spawning.

Is the task completed? Far from it, but the tasks completed to date will allow anadromous fishes to spawn in most of the Auburn Ravine.

The Auburn Ravine is but one stream. Gene Davis’ pesticide studies for CVWQCB Natural Streams and Aquatic Life Within the Central Valley Project Area Pesticide Basin Plan Amendment, 2007, shows a total of 738 identified creeks and possibly over 750 run into California’s two great rivers so 738 times 20,000,000 (2,500 females laying 8,000 eggs each), the potential number of salmon returning to the ocean is 14,760,000,000,000 spawned fishes. If only 3 percent, the standard for most salmon runs, of this total number survive in the ocean to return to spawn in California streams, then 44,280,000 salmon will return to spawn in California streams, up from 39,000 in 2009, and the salmon crisis is no longer a crisis and salmon will no longer be going extinct. If more than that number returns to spawn, then salmon will be with us for a long time. The numbers of salmon spawning will be influenced by whether the stream is above or below a dam on the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

Is the SARSAS Plan perfect? Of course not. Is this explanation a possible over-simplification of a very complex problem? Probably. Even if the SARSAS Plan is only partially successful, salmon will still survive. The federal government’s plan to get fish above the great dams to spawn is excellent and high tech, very expensive but rather slow; the SARSAS Plan is quick, low tech and inexpensive and designed to complement not replace the federal plan.

Will Governor Brown provide the leadership and support to coordinate the activities needed? Will the Obama administration step up? Will enough volunteer groups take charge of each of the 738 plus creeks to restore salmon? Will the SARSAS Plan be implemented in time to prevent the salmon from going extinct? The SARSAS Plan has a possible successful outcome for anadromous fishes that will cost only thousands not billions of dollars. The SARSAS Plan is a simple, inexpensive plan that may go a long way toward alleviating the salmon march to extinction especially when it is effected in conjunction with the federal NOAA Salmon Recovery Plan.

But even without the Governor’s, the SARSAS Plan can be implemented by the people of California working collaboratively, but not as quickly, and but perhaps quickly enough to save one of the most magnificent creatures in the entire animal kingdom, Chinook Salmon. To hasten the process, please write a letter/email urging the Governor to support the SARSAS Plan.

By rescuing one stream, the Auburn Ravine, the people of California may be rescuing the entire Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery and, in addition, providing food for the endangered orca population that usually lives in the Puget Sound region but has come to within one hundred miles of San Francisco looking for salmon, their only food. This orca pod, which currently numbers 84, must reach 125 animals in order to survive.

Since most tributaries to the Sacramento/San Joaquin Rivers are blocked by diversion dams for irrigation, the salmon cannot currently spawn in numbers large enough to prevent extinction. Using the SARSAS Plan as a model for saving salmon in the Auburn Ravine MAY be enough to save the entire Pacific Coast Salmon Fishery and put thousands of unemployed fishermen back into their boats, free sports fisherman to follow their passion, and help Californians feel good about themselves because they did something to help themselves, the fishes and nature and for their children.

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. The $6 million that will be spent on getting anadromous fishes to Auburn and the tourist dollars spent in our area to watch the salmon spawn with help to create many jobs for the Auburn-Lincoln area.

SARSAS needs help, political will and public support to finish our work on the Auburn Ravine so please contact us at Only volunteers, focusing together, can work quickly enough to revive our salmon population to health and well-being. If salmon are saved by the people of California working cooperatively, not only will the gift to our fellowmen be significant, but the gift to our children will be of historic magnitude and nothing less than heroic. As Norman McClean wrote in A River Runs Through It “Finally, all things merge into one and a river runs through it. I am haunted by water (with salmon in it).”

SARSAS Mission Statement

SARSAS (Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead)
Action Plan
Mission Statement: to return salmon and steelhead to the entire length of the Auburn Ravine
Organization: SARSAS is an independent, nonprofit, non-governmental organization, whose goal is to work collaboratively and cooperatively to modify the
thirteen man-made barriers on the Auburn Ravine and the six or more beaver dams, making them passable for fishes.
Vision: This undertaking will take much time, effort, coordination and money, but it will have a permanent, lasting effect on the quality of the lives of those in this area and on the participants who will achieve something unique. We have an opportunity to create something no other town in California has: an anadromous fish run with salmon spawning in the center of the city.
Collaborative Technique: SARSAS is working with volunteers, students, local businesses, government agencies and other Non-Government Organizations and donations of money, time and in-kind services to achieve its goal of returning salmon and steelhead with them ultimately spawning in Auburn School Park Preserve in the center of Auburn. SARSAS is currently working with several individuals and agencies to realize its goal.
Locally, we are working with Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt and Loren Clark and Edmund Sullivan from Placer Legacy and the California Department of Fish and Game, NOAA, Auburn City Council and many others. We have been given stream access by property owners along the AR for volunteers to do fish studies. Placer Legacy and NID are modifying the Hemphill Dam and the Lincoln Gaging Station with work to be complete by summer of 2009. Ron Nelson, NID General Manager, plans to continue working with SARSAS to retrofit the Gold Hill Dam when these two are finished.
Operations: SARSAS plans to accept donations of cash and work and professional expertise and to work outside the usual channels of large financial grants. SARSAS has the ability to accept grant money as well as apply for grants through such non- profits as CABY (COSUMNES, AMERICAN, BEAR AND YUBA) and, which already have monies available for grants to work on several of the barriers describe in Auburn Ravine/Coon Creek Eco-System Resources Plan. (
Model: The greatest stream/fish restoration ever is Fossil Creek in Arizona. All facets of the community worked together. SARSAS intends to make the Restoration of the Auburn Ravine the model for the State of California. In California our model is Butte Creek.

Philosophy: Actions achieve goals but actions are preceded by a dream: Robert F. Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say ‘Why not?’" Together we can make SARSAS the model fish restoration IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA AND ENJOY ALL THE REWARDS AND THE ACCLAIM ATTENDANT THEREWITH.
Comments and questions as well as donations made out to SARSAS can be directed to: SARSAS, P.O. Box 4269, Auburn, CA 95604, or call 530 888 0281,, and click on Blog.

SARSAS Strategic Plan for Returning Salmon and Steelhead to the Auburn Ravine, which flows through Placer County and Sutter County, CA from Auburn to

Effective 9/2010

Part I. Strategic Plan

VISION STATEMENT: Restore Salmon and Steelhead to the Auburn Ravine
MISSION: The mission of the SARSAS Board is to work in a collaborative manner with all individuals, groups and government organizations in order to restore salmon and steelhead to the entire length of the Auburn Ravine

1. To retrofit for fish passage all barriers impeding salmon and steelhead migration
within the Auburn Ravine
2. To install screens on all downstream irrigation pumps and ditches
3. To study the feasibility of fish passage from the Auburn Ravine Cataract to the headwaters of
the Auburn Ravine
4. To develop a strong support coalition through collaborative efforts
5. To restore stream bed and banks along the Auburn Ravine
6. To develop educational and marketing programs for the public at large regarding the
development and maintenance of a healthy Auburn Ravine
7. To provide water necessary to support a healthy salmonid population
8. To assist in efforts increasing a healthy salmon population in the Pacific Ocean
9. To locate funds necessary to accomplish the goals of SARSAS

1.a By October of 2008 identify and provide an action plan for the retrofitting for fish
passage of each flashboard dam by October 15th of each year.
1b. By June 1st, 2009 establish the core group of individuals and groups or entities that will
assist in the planning, implementation and completion of the restoration of salmon and
steelhead to the Auburn Ravine
1c. By August of 2010 retrofit for fish passage the NID gauging station and the NID
Hemphill Dam
1d. Develop an action plan during 2010 with the assistance of NID that will provide the
planning, funding and resources necessary to provide fish passage at the Gold Hill Dam
1e. During the fall and winter of 2009/2010 develop a plan to mitigate fish passage issues caused
by beaver within the Auburn Ravine
2. By September of 2010 implement a fish screening installation on all side ditches along the
Auburn Ravine thus preventing the diversion of smolt from the Auburn Ravine on their
journey to the Sacramento River and eventually the Pacific Ocean
3. By September of 2010 provide $30,000.00 for a fish passage feasibility study inclusive of
the area from the Auburn Cataract to the headwaters of the Auburn Ravine
4. During 2008 and culminating by June of 2009, identify and select a SARSAS
Board of Directors and identify coalition individuals, governmental bodies, and other groups
who will support and work to achieve the mission, goals and objectives of the SARSAS
Strategic Plan.
5. Develop a plan addressing the streambed and bank restoration needs of the Auburn Ravine.
Planning will be completed by August of 2011
6. During the period from January 2009 to September 2010 the SARSAS Board will develop
and implement community outreach education programs for the general public. These
programs will focus upon the SARSAS mission, goals and objectives.
7. By April 2010, the SARSAS Board will identify a source(s) of water sufficient to support
salmonids in the Auburn Ravine. The SARSAS Board will establish meetings with Nevada
Irrigation District, Placer County Water District, Pacific Gas and Electric and the State Water
Board to negotiate necessary water during the fall of 2009.
8. During the entire life of the SARSAS organization, the goals and objectives will center
primarily upon the restoration of salmon and steelhead to the Auburn Ravine with secondary
goals and objectives assisting in the restoration of healthy salmonid populations within the
California Pacific Ocean boundaries.
9. During the period from January 2009 through June 2011, the SARSAS Board will seek and
locate funds necessary to support the goals and objectives of the organization through various
fund raising efforts, individual donations, business sponsors and grants.
10. The SARSAS Board will develop and implement a marketing plan beginning in the fall of
to be completed by March of 2010. The plan shall include the development of a brochure,
multiple power point presentations, a folder, an online newsletter, the use of Twitter,
Facebook and other viable online sources, public presentations, newspaper articles, television
news and other public forums.
11. During the period August 2009 through December 2009, the SARSAS Board will
develop and implement a plan to assure the involvement of key agencies in the SARSAS
Mission. Agencies will be identified and focus meetings will be established with the
agencies and the SARSAS Board in order to develop quality long term relationships focused
upon the SARSAS mission.
12. SARSAS shall develop and implement a plan for monitoring water flow (CFS), water
temperature, water quality to include PH testing and organic material in order to assure
quality spawning conditions for all fishes. Monitoring locations shall be determined, and at
least three sites will be established. Monitoring will begin during the winter and spring of
13. The president of SARSAS shall establish a meeting with each individual SARSAS Board
member in order to determine each board member’s strengths and desires then develop plans
with each member to assist in making SARSAS assignments specific to the SARSAS
mission and strategic plan. Timeline will span October 2009 through November 2009 with
periodic updates.
14. During 2009/2010, SARSAS will develop and nurture working relationships with key state
legislators and the Governor in order to secure the support for legislation and support for the
SARSAS Plan in order to secure an ongoing commitment for restoration of Salmon and
steelhead in California’s streams and in the Pacific Ocean bordering the state.
15. Complete a SWOT and Strategic Plan by August of 2009
16. The SARSAS Board will work with representatives of the City of Lincoln,
Native American groups, interested service organizations, business sponsors and other
interested parties in order to hold a SARSAS Salmon Festival with a Calling Back the
Salmon Celebration in the City of Lincoln in October of 2010.
17. The SARSAS Board shall strive to focus upon scientific data in order to meet its mission. To
that end, SARSAS shall reach out to the scientific community in order to secure knowledge
and information relevant to its goals, objectives and Strategic Plan.


Work with Placer Legacy in order to develop plans and funds necessary to retrofit Lincoln gauging station and Hemphill Dam.
Responsibility: Nevada Irrigation District. District will do both retrofits as state funds are released. Originally scheduled for summer 2009 but due to state funding is delayed.

OBJECTIVE 1 a: GOALS 1 and 8
Project: Removal of flashboard dams on or before October 15th of each year
Responsibility: Owners of flashboard dams. NOAA and F&G- inspect for removal and or
notice to remove by officer.
Timeline: Annually on or before October 15th
Funding: Cost neutral

1 b: GOALS 1-9
Project: SARSAS board has identified and established working relationships with major stakeholders.
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Timeline: Ongoing
Funding: Cost neutral

1 c: Goals 1-2-4-7-8-9
Project: Work with NID and Placer Legacy in order to develop plans and funds
necessary to retrofit Lincoln gauging station and Hemphill Dam.
Responsibility: Nevada Irrigation District. District will do both retrofits as state funds are
released. Originally scheduled for summer 2009 but due to state funding issues,
bond monies were not released.
Timeline: Summer 2010
Funding: State bond funds

1 d: Goals 1-2-4-7-8-9
Project: Retrofit Gold Hill Dam with fish ladder ands screens
Responsibility: Nevada Irrigation District
Timeline: Uncertain 2010-2014
Funding: None to date. NID

1 e: Goals 1-4-5-6-8-9
Project: Working with the City of Lincoln, local property owners and appropriate water
agencies, reduce the number of beaver dams on the Auburn Ravine. Remove
and relocate beavers as necessary. Work with citizens groups in order to educate
the general public regarding beaver issues and potential solutions.
Responsibility: SARSAS, City of Lincoln, water agencies
Funding: Grants, city funds, water agencies, SARSAS fundraising

OBJECTIVE 2: Goals 2-8-9
Projects: 1. Install appropriate screens on all irrigation ditches within the Ravine.
2. Notify all water users who have irrigation ditches of the issues related to
smolt and trout when ditches are not screened.
3. Develop grants that in part will provide funds for screening projects.
4. Provide water users with information that links unscreened ditches to the
loss of smolt and trout in the Auburn Ravine.
5. Seek funding partners
6. Seek screening enforcement when necessary.
Responsibility: Water agencies, farmers, SARSAS, enforcement agencies.
Timeline: 2010-2012
Funding Sources: Grants, water agencies, water users
Cost: To be determined

OBJECTIVE 3: Goals 1-3-4-5-6-8-9-
Project: Raise $30,000.00 to be used for a feasibility study for fish passage from the Ophir
Cataract to the headwaters of the Auburn Ravine.
Responsibility: SARSAS
Timeline: 2009 to September 2011
Funding: SARSAS fundraisers and donations

OBJECTIVE 4: Goals 1-9
Project: Establish a nine member working board and identify coalitions and partners.
Responsibility: SARSAS president and board members
Timeline: June 2009
Funding: None

OBJECTIVE 5: Goals 4-5-6-8-9
Project: Identify the ten highest priority areas in need of streambed and bank restoration and
establish projects, timelines, volunteers and funds necessary to accomplish restoration
Responsibility: SARSAS, landowners, Placer Legacy, NOAA, Fish & Game
Timeline: August 2011
Funding: To be determined

OBJECTIVE 6: Goals 4-6-9
Projects: 1. Develop power point presentations
2. Develop a video for presentations
3. Develop presentations materials i. e. FAQ
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Timeline: June 2009 through September 2010 and beyond as necessary
Funding: $3000.00 to $4,000.00 SARSAS fundraisers and donations

OBJECTIVE 7: Goals 7-8-9
Project: 1. Work with appropriate agencies to determine the source of water and when it is
needed in order to assure sufficient water to support salmon, steelhead and trout in
the Auburn Ravine.
2. Establish meetings with PG&E, PCWA, NID and representatives of the state water
board to accomplish the objective.
Responsibility: SARSAS and appropriate agencies
Timeline: August 2009 – April 2010
Funding: To be determined

OBJECTIVE 8: Goals 1-9
As the goals of SARSAS are met, there will be a corresponding increase in the California Pacific Ocean salmonid population.
Project: Meet with fishing industry representatives to demonstrate the SARSAS plan for
restoration as well as its application in other streams feeding the Sacramento and San
Joaquin Rivers in order to gain industry support and Pacific Ocean salmonid restoration.
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Funding: None
Timeline: February 2010

Projects: 1. Write grants
2. Establish SARSAS fundraisers
3. Locate donors
4. Seek business sponsors
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Funding: None
Timeline: 2008…ongoing

OBJECTIVE 10: Goal 6
Projects: 1. Develop Portfolio
2. Develop brochure 8X11 tri-fold
3. Update power point presentation
4. Develop on line newsletter
5. Post on Facebook, twitter and other internet sites
6. Continue public presentations
7. Develop media information for radio, television and newspapers
8. Develop a video presentation
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Timeline: August 2009 through March 2010
Funding: $6,000.00

OBJECTIVE 11: Goals 1-2-4-6-7
Projects: Identify Key agencies 8/08- 10/09
Establish focus meetings 9/09-4/2010
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Funding: None

OBJECTIVE 12: Goals 6-7-8-9
Projects: 1. Purchase hand held monitoring devices
2. Train volunteers for monitoring
3. Monitor weekly/monthly beginning October 2009
4. Select three locations for monitoring
5. Develop data base for collected information
Responsibility: SARSAS Board and monitoring volunteers
Timeline: 10/2009- 10/2012
Funding: Approximately $1,600.00 for equipment

OBJECTIVE 13: Goal 4
Project: SARSAS president shall meet with each Board member to determine individual strengths and interests and make board assignments as necessary
Responsibility: SARSAS president
Timeline: 10/2009—11/2009
Funding: None
OBJECTIVE 14: Goals 4-6-8-9
Projects: 1. Establish meetings with at least one key member of the senate and assembly
2. Meet with key leader and accomplish the following:
a. Present SARSAS plan
b. Solicit support for 503 c. legislation {simplify}
c. Gain support for SARSAS plan expansion across the north state
d. Expand support to other legislators
e. Get legislative resolutions from both houses
f. Explore legislation for salmonid restoration
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Timelines: September 2009- May 2010
Funding: None

OBJECTIVE 15: Goals 1-9
Project: Complete a SWOT and Strategic Plan
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Timeline: August 2009
Funding: None

OBJECTIVE 16: Goals 4-6-8-9
Project: Develop a Calling Back the Salmon Celebration in the City of Lincoln on Oct. 23, 2010.
Responsibility: SARSAS Board, City of Lincoln, Chamber of Commerce, Native American
groups, and other interested parties or individuals identified by SARSAS.
Timeline: October 2010
Cost: To be determined

OBJECTIVE 17: Goals 1-9
Project: Reach out to the scientific community to establish factual scientific facts and
information to help guide the SARSAS Board in achieving its mission, goals and
Responsibility: SARSAS Board
Timeline: Ongoing
Funding: Not required

NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner is the Winner -SARSAS King Salmon Award for OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT in returning anadromous fishes to the Auburn Ravine

The SKSA is given to a person whose collaborative efforts have resulted in a significant and distinguished advancement toward the goal of SARSAS, which is to return salmon and steelhead to the entire length of the AR.
NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner, using gracious and collaborative law enforcement methods, was able to work amiably with the eight dam owners on the AR downstream of the City of Lincoln and with their wholehearted assistance open the Auburn Ravine to fish passage from October 15 to April 15 of each year to allow Fall Run Chinook to migrate upstream toward spawning gravels.

For the first time in decades, his efforts resulted in a significant number of salmon reaching Auburn Ravine Park in Lincoln, where their upstream migration was stopped by the NID Lincoln Gauging Station. Seeing Agent Tanner’s success with salmon, Nevada Irrigation District, contributed $250k of their own money toward the $850K cost, and will install a fish ladder on the LGS this Sept./Oct. to allow salmon to reach spawning gravels upstream of Lincoln. NID is currently planning and designing fish passage over their Hemphill Dam, which will allow fish to migrate many miles upstream to the NID Gold Hill Dam, which hopefully will be retrofitted for fish passage in the near future.
Agent Tanner’s achievement is vital to the success of returning salmon and steelhead to the entire length of the AR and he continues to constantly monitor the Ravine and works toward making his agency realize the infinite possibility of the AR as a significant tributary to the Sacramento River for salmon and steelhead spawning, thereby helping to keep the threatened steelhead population robust and the salmon population from extinction.
Agent Tanner’s efforts working with the South Sutter Water District resulted in SSWD securing funds from Family Water Alliance to install a Fish Screen at the opening of the Pleasant Grove Canal “to prevent”, to quote SARSAS Fish Passage Expert Ron Ott, “up to 90 % of anadromous fishes returning to the Pacific Ocean to mature from being entrained and die in agriculture fields”.

Agent Tanner’s achievement is exceptional, unique and distinguished and shows how one person, who accepts his responsibility and works ethically and collaboratively to achieve a goal can succeed to a monumental degree, inspiring another entities and individuals to contribute to the SARSAS goal.

Agent Tanner’s contribution to the SARSAS goal is unparalleled and laudatory in the highest degree. He is the most deserving first recipient of the SARSAS King Salmon Award.

SARSAS Secretary Kathie Harris will present Don Tanner the award for Outstanding Achievement toward Returning Salmon and Steelhead to the Auburn Ravine.

SARSAS Update on Progress in Returning Salmon and Steelhead to Auburn Ravine

October 6, 2011

A fish screen has been installed on the Sheiber Canal/Pump , which helps assure fish returning to the Pacific avoid entrainment and dying in the fields.
Next, NID just received the NOAA permit, which allows them to start work on the Lincoln Gauging Station which prevented many salmon from reach spawning grounds last year.
Ron Nelson, General Manager of NID, called me last Monday and say the permits were all in place and much prep work had already been done. He said NID would try to stay with the original schedule and have the fish ladder installed by the end of this month in time for the arrival of the salmon.
So now all eight dams below Lincoln are in compliance with NOAA regulations, thanks to NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner (who just received the SARSAS King Salmon Award for his work on AR). That means all dams are taken down NLT Oct 15 and stay down until April 15 each year to allow the Fall Run Chinook to reach spawning grounds on the upper Auburn Ravine.
The LGS Fish Ladder currently being installed by NID will be complemented by the Fish Screen, spearheaded by Brad Arnold of South Sutter Water District, to be installed on the Pleasant Grove Canal to prevent fish returning to the Pacific Ocean to mature from being entrained in agricultural fields. The Family Water Alliance secured funding for this fish screen.
NID is currently planning the retrofit of Hemphill Dam upstream of Lincoln near Turkey Creek Golf Course. When the Hemphill Dam is retrofitted for fish passage, salmon and steelhead with then be able to reach the NID Gold Hill Dam two miles upstream from Gold Hill Road.
Much is happening and with each addition, salmon and steelhead can swim and spawn farther up Auburn Ravine.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Contact Kelly Velasco, 916 434 2759 or

This year is the second annual Calling Back the Salmon Celebration whose purpose is to connect our community with the effort to return salmon and steelhead to the 33 mile length of the Auburn Ravine. Our community, individuals and businesses, are asked to rally behind the effort to return anadromous fishes to the Auburn Ravine, which flows from Auburn through Lincoln to the Sacramento River at Verona. Lincoln has two beautiful parks for viewing salmon/steelhead runs in the fall of each year. In addition to the natural beauty and miracle of fishes, after swimming up to 2500 miles to mature from three to five years in the Pacific Ocean, returning to the place of their birth, imagine the economic benefit to Lincoln and Auburn of turning our cities into a major spawning center with tourists coming to see the miracle, staying in the city and spending money during their stay. The business community will profit just as much as the residents and tourists.

The Indian community performed the Spiritual Blessing during the CBTSC last year and two weeks later the salmon had returned to Lincoln after years of absence. This year the leadership of the Indian community, in order to make more pure the Spiritual Blessing, has asked to separate the Blessing from any commercial activities.

In compliance with that request, the Spiritual Blessing with be held on Sunday, September 18, 2011, from 8 to 10:30 am at the Auburn Ravine behind McBean Pavilion here at McBean Park. Please return on Sunday to take part in this magnificent and powerful Spiritual Blessing to call back the salmon.

Salmon are as resilient and adaptive as
humans; when they can no longer adapt,
neither can mankind. They need our

To get additional information or to become a sponsor, contact Kelly Velasco at 916 434 2759 or email her at


August 22, 2011

Working with many individuals, agencies and groups, SARSAS has overseen Salmon reaching Turkey Creek Golf Course where another NID dam is in the planning for a fish ladder and screen over the canal or complete removal.

Getting salmon some twenty-two miles up the Auburn Ravine started with NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner working with SARSAS personnel to meet with dam owners to remind them dams must be removed no later than September 15 each year and stay down until April 15 so the Fall salmon run would have access to spawning grounds.

South Sutter Water District was able to raise funds to install a fish screen over the Pleasant Grove Canal, about six miles downstream from Lincoln. This screen should be installed by the beginning of 2013 and, when installed, should prevent up to 90% of anadromous fishes returning to the Pacific from being entrained in the Canal. That means a very large percentage of Auburn Ravine smolt will be able to successfully reach the Sacramento River and swim to the Pacific.

NOAA Agent Tanner and SARSAS personnel met with the owners of the following dams and the owners agreed to comply to the September 15-April 15 dam removal: the Coppin, Davis, Tom Glenn, Lincoln Ranch Duck Club, Aitken Ranch, Moore, Nelson Lane and the Lincoln Gauging Station. The Scheiber Dam was removed.

Nevada Irrigation District is currently installing a fish ladder over the Lincoln Gauging Station, located a quarter mile downstream from Highway 65, making it possible for salmon to swim two miles above Lincoln where they will encounter NID's Hemphill Dam, which is currently in the planning stage of being addressed. The Lincoln Gauging Station fish ladder construction will begin September of 2011 and be completed in October.

Before salmon can reach Wise Powerhouse, located one mile downstream from Auburn, NID must complete work on the Hemphill Dam and the largest dam on the Auburn Ravine, the Gold Diversion Dam and its Canal.

Once these two dams are addressed, salmon can then reach the richest spawning grounds on the Auburn Ravine. Auburn Ravine, according to a fish count done by California Department of Fish and Game in 2005, has an average of 7,000 salmonids per mile, making it one of the richest streams in
Northern California.

Once SARSAS finishes getting salmon to Auburn, it will focus its attention of Coon Creek and get the salmon at least to Hidden Falls Regional Park near Auburn.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Selected Bibliography on Auburn Ravine and Western Placer County Streams, Presented to Maria Rea, Howard Brown, Brian Ellrott of NOAA on 1 8 10


American Fisheries Society, 1/20/04, Jim Steele Pres., Cal-Neva Chapter; a letter to Ms. Sammie Cervantes, USBR.

American River Pump Station Project FEIR/FEIS, June 2002, including Executive Summary, Appendices C and D. SCH No. 1999062089.

Auburn Ravine Aquatic Habitat and Biological Resources, Literature Review and Resource Assessment, by Randy Bailey, October 2003, for Sierra Business Council and Placer County Planning Department.

Auburn Ravine Coon Creek Ecosystem Restoration Plan, Placer County, 4/30/02 Public Review Draft. (contact Placer County Planning Department)

Auburn Tunnel Outlet Modification Public Draft, Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration, April 2009, prepared for Placer County Water Agency.

Auburn Wastewater Facility Plan FEIR March 1997, SCH No. 95082040.

Auburn Wastewater Treatment Plant Stream Study, August 1996, by CH2MHILL.

Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Plan, Bill Kier Associates, January 1999.
(Battle Creek-related Documents available via Google search.)

Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project DEIS/DEIR, July 2003.

Battle Creek Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project, Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act Report, June 2005.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan/BDCP…Handout #2, see below, Salmonids: Central Valley Chinook Salmon ESUs, Central Valley Steelhead, Conservation Themes and Stressors, Impact Mechanisms, and Conservation Measure Concepts, BDCP Conservation Strategy Work Group Working Draft.

CDFG 6/28/99 Comments on the Proposed Critical Habitat Designation for California Steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

CDFG Summary of 2004 and 2005 fish community surveys in Auburn Ravine and Coon Creek (Placer County), 1/4/08 e-mail from J. Navicky.

California State University, Dr. David Vanicek, 11/9/84, Auburn Ravine Fishery Survey.

Central Valley Steelhead, by Dennis R. McEwan in Brown, RL ed., 2001, Contributions to the Biology of Central Valley Salmonids, CDFG Fish Bull No. 179. Vol 1:1-43.
(Available via Google search.)

Drake letter to PCWA of 3/13/89.

Effect of fluctuating flow and temperature on cover type selection and behaviour by juvenile brown trout in artificial flumes,” by T. Vehanen, et al., Journal of Fish biology (2000) 56, 923-937.

Federation of Fly Fishers/FFF Native Fish Policy, by Richard Williams, December 6, 2001, in FLYFISHER, Spring 2002.

Foothills Water Network, Response to PAD Questionnaire-2, Focus on Western Placer Creeks, 8/27/07. (see PG&E PAD reference below)

Genetics of Central Valley O. mykiss populations: drainage and watershed scale analyses, by Jennifer Nielsen, et al. in San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, Vol. 3, Iss. 2, Art. 3, September 2005.

Genetic Population Structure” by Nils Ryman in NOAA TM 30.

Goal, Policy and Strategy Recommendations for Stream Management in Placer County, October 1991, prepared for Placer County Flood Control…District.

Goodall Recollections…statement of 5/26/91.

Hydropower Flow Fluctuations and Salmonids: A Review of the Biological Effects, Mechanical Causes, and Options for Mitigation,” by Mark Hunter, September 1992. State of Washington Department of Fisheries, Technical Report No. 119.

Lincoln Creek Week Agenda, 4/21/07.

Lincoln Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion to 2.4 MGD, DEIR, December 1998, SCN 98102027. Auburn Ravine Fishery Survey.

Lincoln Wastewater Treatment and Reclamation Facility DEIR, September 1999, SCH No. 98122071.

Meador, Michael in the American Fisheries Society Journal--Fisheries 1996; 21:18-23, Water Transfer Projects and the Role of Fisheries Biologists, and 1992; 17:17-22, Inter-basin Water Transfer: Ecological Concerns.

Monitoring, Assessment, And Research on Central Valley Steelhead: Status of Knowledge, Review of Existing Programs, And Assessment of Needs, by the CalFed Interagency Ecological Program/IEP Steelhead Project WorkTeam, March 1999.

NOAA Public Draft Central Valley Recovery Plan and Related Documents, October 2009.

NOAA Technical Memo 30/TM 30, “Genetic Effects of Straying of Non-Native Hatchery Fish into Natural Populations,” W. Stewart Grant, editor.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company Drum-Spaulding Project, FERC Project 2310, Relicensing Pre-Application Document (PAD), April 2008.

Placer County Planning Dept., Natural Resources, Biological Studies and Documents—some documents available at the site below. e.g. Aquatic Resources, Salmonid Spawning Habitat Surveys for Placer County Streams, etc.

Salmonid Spawning Habitat Surveys for Placer County Streams 3/24/04, by Jones & Stokes for Placer County Planning Dept. (see above)

Salmonids: Central Valley Chinook Salmon ESUs, Central Valley Steelhead, Conservation Themes and Stressors, Impact Mechanisms, and Conservation Measure Concepts, Bay Delta Conservation Plan, Conservation Strategy Work Group Working Draft, Handout #2, 3/26/07.
(Available on-line via Google search.)

Sarkisian letter to CDFG dated 6/6/90.

Scientific Approaches for Evaluating Hydroelectric Project Effects, Prepared for Hydropower Reform Coalition by Stillwater Sciences, et al., July 27, 2006.

Streams of Western Placer County: Aquatic Habitat and Biological Review, Literature Review and Resource Assessment, December 2003, by R. Bailey for Sierra Business Council and Placer County Planning Department.

The Mines Group: “Auburn Ravine Gaging Station Site Selection and Fish Passage Modifications Conceptual Design Report.” Prepared for Placer County Planning Department. Project No. 04-35-01. June 8, 2005.
Van Riper letter to PCWA of 3/11/89.

Range of pharmaceuticals in fish across US


Fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them, including medicines used to treat high cholesterol, allergies, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and depression, researchers reported Wednesday.

Findings from this first nationwide study of human drugs in fish tissue have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly expand similar ongoing research to more than 150 different locations.

"The average person hopefully will see this type of a study and see the importance of us thinking about water that we use every day, where does it come from, where does it go to? We need to understand this is a limited resource and we need to learn a lot more about our impacts on it," said study co-author Bryan Brooks, a Baylor University researcher and professor who has published more than a dozen studies related to pharmaceuticals in the environment.

A person would have to eat hundreds of thousands of fish dinners to get even a single therapeutic dose, Brooks said. But researchers including Brooks have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of pharmaceutical residues can harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species because of their constant exposure to contaminated water.

The research was published online Wednesday by the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and also was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City.

Brooks and his colleague Kevin Chambliss tested fish caught in rivers where wastewater treatment plants release treated sewage in Chicago, Dallas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Orlando, Fla. For comparison, they also tested fish from New Mexico's pristine Gila River Wilderness Area, an area isolated from human sources of pollution.

Earlier research has confirmed that fish absorb medicines because the rivers they live in are contaminated with traces of drugs that are not removed in sewage treatment plants. Much of the contamination comes from the unmetabolized residues of pharmaceuticals that people have taken and excreted; unused medications dumped down the drain also contribute to the problem.

The researchers, whose work was funded by a $150,000 EPA grant, tested fish for 24 different pharmaceuticals, as well as 12 chemicals found in personal care products.

They found trace concentrations of seven drugs and two soap scent chemicals in fish at all five of the urban river sites. The amounts varied, but some of the fish had combinations of many of the compounds in their livers.

The researchers didn't detect anything in the reference fish caught in rural New Mexico.

In an ongoing investigation, The Associated Press has reported trace concentrations of pharmaceuticals have been detected in drinking water provided to at least 46 million Americans.

The EPA has called for additional studies about the impact on humans of long-term consumption of minute amounts of medicines in their drinking water, especially in unknown combinations. Limited laboratory studies have shown that human cells failed to grow or took unusual shapes when exposed to combinations of some pharmaceuticals found in drinking water.

"This pilot study is one important way that EPA is increasing its scientific knowledge about the occurrence of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment," said EPA spokeswoman Suzanne Rudzinski. She said the completed and expanded EPA sampling for pharmaceuticals and other compounds in fish and surface water is part of the agency's National Rivers and Stream Assessment.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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AUBURN RAVINE A Community Effort to Restore one small Sierra Foothills stream that may hold the answer to the future of northern California’s

by Greg Vinci

When just a toddler Jack Sanchez’s mother would take him to the banks of the creek, a mere fifty feet down slope from his boyhood home in the Auburn Ravine, where he would occupy himself by tossing small pebbles into the creek that bordered his parents property in the Sierra foothills. As Jack grew older pebble tossing progressed into exploring the abundant wildlife in and along the creek and eventually he and his buddies would spend summer afternoons sneaking from pool to pool with a spinning rod and a can of worms. Jack spent many hours just sitting on a rock next to the creek, observing the fish in the pool below his house. He observed that each fall, among the school of small Rainbows a few large dark forms would appear seemingly out of nowhere. As the autumn wore on, more and more of these mystery fish would at times be observed and when Jack finally caught one he noted that once out of water the dark hued fish were also Rainbows but much larger and bore a bright chrome hue that could only be present on fish that had at one time been to the sea. Anadromous Steelhead had arrived in the Auburn Ravine. Located along Interstate 80 at the 1000 ft. elevation, Auburn Ravine begins just up the hill from the City of Auburn, California, and flows for about thirty miles to its confluence with the Sacramento River at Verona. Back in the days of the Gold Rush, when it was then known as North fork Dry Diggins, it held the distinction as being one of the very first gold strikes to be established after the initial discovery at Coloma, CA, in 1848. The placer mining method of gold extraction that was utilized on the creek, resulted in an ecological disaster that devastated the creek’s aquatic life. Skip ahead 160 years; placer mining no longer exists, and very little evidence of the damage that placer gold mining caused can be seen.

It’s been over fifty years since Jack discovered his first Steelhead in Auburn Ravine, and during that span of time Jack became acquainted with many others who lived along the creek and who shared similar experiences, and mutual concern that fewer and fewer Steelhead and Salmon were observed in the creek each year. That concern was the catalyst that inspired the Ophir Property Owners Inc. and the Auburn Ravine Preservation Committee to begin searching for ways to protect the AR’s habitat for resident fish and migrating Steelhead and Salmon. They were able to work with the DFG in the early 90s to initiate studies of the potential of the AR to support Steelhead and Salmon spawning. SARSAS, which is an acronym for Save Auburn Ravine Salmon And Steelhead, came about in the first part of the new century, and began formulating a plan to convince the stakeholders which were primarily water districts, to help in their efforts. Many of them had heard stories from old timers about fishing for twenty inch Steelhead and large Chinook Salmon. Some of the members like Jack Sanchez, who had regularly fished the ravine as youngsters, had been witness to the predictable runs of Steelhead that existed there prior to the nineteen sixties. They knew that if they were going to convince the many stakeholders along the stream such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Nevada Irrigation District (NID) and the South Sutter Water District (SSWD) to name a few, they would need to gather all of the scientific research that had been done over the years to plead their case. They found for example that the California Dept. of Fish & Game had completed several aquatic surveys in 2004 and 2005 that corroborated the anecdotal evidence of the old timers. Interestingly, they found that 34% of the fish in the AR were Rainbow Trout/Steelhead. The balance of the fish were split between Sacramento Sucker, Lamprey, Sculpin, and Hitch, all of which are indigenous. Non-indigenous fish such as, Green Sunfish, Pumpkinseed, Redear (sic), Sunfish, Red Shiner and Spotted Bass were also found. On one stretch near Ophir, an amazing 7,985 Rainbows (some of which may have been Steelhead) were found per mile. They also identified several issues that were impeding the spawning migrations of Salmon and Steelhead in the AR such as dams (some seasonal and some permanent) that blocked passage of anadromous fish, eratic water flows in the creek caused by irrigation and power needs, and bank erosion that created siltation in the spawning gravels. With this information in hand, they began contacting the stakeholders to see what level of cooperation could be forthcoming.

Since efforts to get stakeholder cooperation in the early nineteen nineties had met with little success, they were fully prepared to hear the word “no” when they contacted the water districts. This time around they were amazed that they received encouragement from all of the agencies that they contacted. Everyone wanted to help, but of course the bureaucracies of each organization needed to be navigated, and money had to be found.

High on their list, was finding a way to assure reasonable minimum flows. The Wise Powerhouse owned by PG&E supplies some of the water to the AR which is transported through ditches and tunnels from storage at higher elevations to the powerhouse which then provides small amount to NID via the creek. There had been several times during the late summer or early fall that the spigot had been turned off so to speak causing many of the land owners along the stream to gather dying fish in the shallows and transport them to the deeper pools that remained. Though some of the AR water comes from springs located along its course in the dry months, much of its flow during that period is dependent on water releases by the various water agencies in the area. NID uses the creek to transport water from higher elevation impoundments to its agricultural customers in the valley below during the summer months and if the stream dries up, chances are that NID had a maintenance project that required turning off the valve. One would think that trying to get a water district to change its policy would be like trying to beat a dead Salmon, but Jack Sanchez says that working with Ron Nelson, NID’s general manager, resulted in restoring the water flow, and it has remained stable during the summer months ever since. Getting the other water district stakeholders was important too. For example the Placer County Water District (PCWD) pumps up to 100 cfs per second at various times of the year and PG&E provides up to 80 cfs to NID via the ravine. As you can see, everyone needs to be on the same page.

They also needed to get the cooperation of federal agencies involved in the restoration of Steelhead and Salmon habitat in the central valley. Such cooperation could provide a possible source of federal funding for any future construction projects such as fish ladders. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had drafted a Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead Recovery Plan that had placed the Auburn Ravine relatively low on the priority list. Armed with the DFG fish survey from 2004 & 2005 plus several other studies that had been compiled since the nineteen eighties, they approached NOAA and were able to convince them of the AR’s viability as a potential spawning waterway for Steelhead and Salmon. Since then they have been very cooperative and their special agent Don Tanner has worked alongside DFG warden Mark Jeter each year to meet with agricultural interests along the creek to make sure that any man made barriers are removed during the spawning migration period between October 15th and April 15th.

(Having a stable flow of water is only part of the equation which allows the fish to travel to the spawning area in the upper reaches of the stream the goal of SARSAS will be partially unfulfilled as will the full potential of the stream.) REWRITE Threee of the twelve dams and diversions along the AR are owned and controlled by NID (Hemphill diversion/dam, Hwy 65 Lincoln Gauging Station Dam, and Auburn Ravine #1 Gold Hill diversion/dam). The other nine dams in the valley portion of the stream are diversion projects owned and controlled by the South Sutter Water District (SSWD), private owners and one private duck club. Several are what are known as flashboard dams that back up the ravine at certain times of the year to divert water into canals that transport it for irrigation. Such diversions also divert fry and smolt in canals where the die in fields as they attempt to return to the estuaries and Pacific Ocean where they will grow to adults. NID has agreed to build a fish ladder on the Lincoln Gauging Station in the Fall of 2011 and is working on a plan to either install a fish ladder and fish screen on the HH Canal or to completely remove the Hemphill Dam. No plans for retrofitting the Gold Hill Diversion Dams have been made. Ron Nelson his wants to retrofit the first two successfully before NID addresses the Gold Hill Dam which will need a large fish ladder and a big fish screen. The SSWD owns two permanent dams and diversions and 23 pumps in the lower valley section of the ravine. SSWD has applied to the Family Water Alliance for $300,000 to put a fish screen on the Pleasant Grove Canal behind the Aitken Ranch Dam to allow fish passage and screen the diversion. PG&E has offered up to $45,000.00 in matching funds to place fish screens on nine privately owned the pumps. Finally, most of the dams are up for re-licensing by FERC, which is an opportunity for the public to ask that the dams be managed for wildlife preservation as a requirement for the renewal of the license. The wheels of progress are moving slowly, but they are moving forward, nonetheless.

The story of the successful steps that have been undertaken to get the project this far on the Auburn Ravine can be a blueprint for conservation organizations up and down the west slope of the Sierras where Salmon and Steelhead have historically spawned. Keeping in mind that it is pretty much an accepted fact that hatchery fish do not survive as well in the environment as do naturally spawned fish, the maintenance and improvement of spawning habitat that will result in more wild fish is very important to the survival of the resource. By doing simple math the potential of the Sierra’s west slope creeks to save this important fisheries resource is huge. There are roughly seven hundred thirty-eight streams on the west slope that comprise the Feather River, Yuba River, American River, and San Joaquin River water sheds to name a few. Keeping in mind that one female Chinook Salmon carries about 3000 eggs, (and on average 3% survive to fry stage and ultimately return to spawn) so if only one female successfully spawns in each of the seven hundred streams of the central valley the consequential 2,100,000. eggs will result in 63,000 wild adult Salmon returning to the valley’s waterways each year. So you can see that the restoration of west slope creeks have the potential to provide the means to save one of California’s most valuable wildlife resources. The same equation can be applied to Steelhead who have been affected by the same problems with degradation of habitat and the introduction of hatchery fish.
It took twenty years of effort by concerned individuals, starting with the Property Owners Association of Ophir, the Auburn Ravine Preservation Association and finally SARSAS, to get this far, and it will be only a short time when Steelhead and Salmon can make an unimpeded journey to the spawning gravel of the upper Auburn Ravine. If conservation groups throughout the valley take the same course as SARSAS, the dismal runs of Salmon and Steelhead that we’ve witnessed over the last few years will be a thing of the past(see The SARSAS Plan for Saving Salmon and Steelhead in the Pacific Marine Fishery at

Send donations to SARSAS, PO Box 4269,Auburn, CA 95604.

Colin Purdy: (916)358-2832 CEL (530)333-7749
Mike Healey (916)358-4334
Robert Vincik (916)358-2933

NOAA (National Marine Fisheries Service-special agent)
Donald Tanner (916)930-3658 CEL (916)871-4862

Dan Cox

Otis Bay Environmental
Chad Gurly

US Bureau of Reclamation
John Hanon

The SARSAS 300 Club - 300 People each Donating $300 in 2011

If you would like to donate money to support the SARSAS effort, you might consider becoming part of the 2011 300 Club. Our goal is to encourage 300 people to sign up to donate $300 during the year. Have your bank send $25 each month, $50 for six months, or a one time donation of $300 or whatever combination is easiest for you, and

send your tax deductible donation to

SARSAS, PO Box 4269, Auburn, CA95604. The SARSAS tax exempt number is 80-0291680.

Your donation will help SARSAS operate during 2011 and, if we make the 300 donations goal, will go toward funding at least two fish screens on the Auburn Ravine to help returning salmon and steelhead survive their voyages back to the Pacific Ocean where they can spend three to five years maturing before returning to the Auburn Ravine.

If you know of large donors or estates to donate, call Jack at 530 888 0281.

One of the goals of SARSAS is to make Auburn, CA, a rare town in California with salmon spawning within the city limits at Auburn School Park and Ashford Park.

2010 Was a Very Good Year for SARSAS

Through SARSAS’ collaborative efforts with many organizations and agencies, salmon were able to travel about twenty miles up the Auburn Ravine and were sighted in some numbers in Auburn Ravine Park in the City of Lincoln, where they were stopped by NID’s Lincoln Gauging Station. The word from NID is this barrier will be fitted with a fish ladder in the Fall of 2011 allowing salmon to swim upstream about two miles to NID’s Hemphill Dam. When it and NID’s Gold Hill Diversion Dam are retrofitted with fish ladders and screens, anadromous fishes will be able to reach Wise Powerhouse, one mile downstream from the City of Auburn. So the year 2010 saw great progress being made in salmon returning to the Auburn Ravine.
Special thanks should go to NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner for bringing nine flashboard dams downstream from Lincoln in compliance with NOAA regulations of dams being removed from the Auburn Ravine for October 15 to April 15 to accommodate the Fall Chinook Run. Brad Arnold of South Sutter Water District has applied for funds for a fish screen on the Pleasant Grove Canal, which will prevent salmon returning to the Pacific Ocean from being entrained in rice fields and pastures.
Much work remains to be done. SARSAS is an all-volunteer organization and makes progress only by the efforts of those who volunteer to do the work. SARSAS needs volunteers for river patrol, tree planting, project managers, water testing, flow testing, photographers, grant writers, event coordinators, teachers to spread the SARSAS message to young people, and people who write well and would like to become grant writers. SARSAS needs people who have worked with fish in their professional life or in fish passage related fields who would like to continue their efforts to benefit our community.
SARSAS is currently working on an application for fish screens for 23 pumps downstream of Lincoln and 4 fish screens. This application is in the millions of dollars and, if successful, will provide many jobs and dollars to our communities. Returning anadromous fishes to the Auburn Ravine, not only benefits fish, but also benefits our economy by providing jobs and tourist dollars.
We need volunteers in the Lincoln area to help with the various projects necessary to upgrade the Auburn Ravine in Auburn Ravine Park and McBean Park. A Lincoln group is currently being formed with Lincoln City Councilman Stan Nader and the City of Lincoln for this upgrading of Auburn Ravine.
In addition, we need visionaries in the Auburn area to help plan how to get the salmon the last mile from Wise Powerhouse to the two parks in Auburn, Auburn School Park and Ashford Park to prepare for spawning in these two parks. Between Wise Powerhouse and the City of Auburn, Auburn Ravine flows under Wise Road, twice under Ophir Road, under Highway 80 w here the two forks of the Auburn Ravine come together. The North Fork of Auburn Ravine flows under Highway 49 near Highway 80, under Elm Street and Palm Avenue up to Ashford Park. North Rich Ravine, the south fork of Auburn Ravine, flows under Old Town Auburn, daylights near the Claude Chana Statue next to the Firehouse and Creekside Café in Old Town Auburn, flows through the Jury Parking lot, behind Courthouse Coffee, under Auburn-Folsom Road to Auburn School Park. In addition to more water, at least half a dozen fish ladders need to be funded and installed and then Lincoln and Auburn will have salmon spawning in the town centers, attracting tourists with big pocketbooks and many jobs for workers to do the installations.
If you wish to get involved with SARSAS, call Jack Sanchez at 530 888 0281 or email him at jlsanchez39@gmail and join the fun.