The Auburn Ravine Project
by Dan Edwards, VP of Conservation for Granite Bay Flycasters
On May 27, 2008, the Club had a surplus and we donated $10,000 to help remove barriers to fish passage on Auburn Ravine. Henry Sandigo, past VP for Conservation told me that our donation had helped build a fish ladder on the gauging station just above Lincoln. Did this do any good?
In Fall 2012, for the first time in 24 years (since 1988) spawning Salmon were able to get past the gauging station for several miles before stopping at the next barrier, Hemphill Dam. Department of Fish and Wildlife surveyed the newly opened creek and counted 273 spawning Salmon on over 50 Redds for the first time in 24 years. The steelhead more likely than not followed the chinook salmon upstream. Population estimates are difficult but in a stable population at least 2 adult Salmon are produced for each spawning salmon who will return to the creek to spawn again. Hatcheries report a 1% to 5% return rate for smolts they release. Chinook salmon lay between 1,500 and 10,000 eggs so more than 2 could survive in an expanding population.
The major funding for this effort was provided by Nevada Irrigation District (NID), California Department of Water Resources, Placer County, Dry Creek Conservancy, and Granite Bay Fly casters. We helped create approximately 546 new adult salmon (2 times 273) for each year the Auburn Ravine is open. There are two more barriers on Auburn Ravine to open the creek all the way to the City of Auburn. I do not know how many Steelhead that our donation may have helped produce but a survey of the Auburn Ravine estimated between 7000 and 8000 Fish per mile.
A major player in this effort wasSave the Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead, founded by Jack Sanchez, president. He had the dream of bringing the salmon and steelhead back to downtown Auburn and now has the help of numerous children, adults and organizations.
Go to www.SARSAS.org and click on the 4th orange line where it says "Click here to view a video about SARSAS." This is an 18 minute, incredible video.
Click on the top of the Website page on "Videos" to go to a second page where it says, "Click here to see a video." This is a 55 minute video called "Journey of Lifetime" documenting the Salmon and Steelhead returning to the Auburn Ravine above the Gauging Station.
I think our donation forwarded our goals of increasing access for fish and increasing their productivity in the wild. There is public access to Auburn Ravine at 2 parks in Lincoln (McBean and Auburn Ravine), and at every bridge over the Auburn Ravine. Jack Sanchez says that they are working at mitigating the 2 dams, Hemphill and Gold Hill, that remain preventing access to the City of Auburn. They are also working with private owners to develop public access points in the upper Auburn Ravine above Hemphill Dam.I think our donation was very successful although the total cost of the Gauging Station fish ladder was reported at $900,000. I hope you will be as inspired as I was by these videos and the documented results of restoring fish to the Auburn Ravine Project.