SARSAS ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS OF JUNE 2017
Working with many individuals, agencies and groups, SARSAS has overseen salmon reaching Turkey Creek Golf Course where another NID dam, Hemphill Dam, blocks upstream migration.
Getting salmon some twenty-two miles up the Auburn Ravine to Hemphill Dam started with NOAA Special Agent Don Tanner working with SARSAS personnel to meet with dam owners to remind them flashboard dams must be removed no later than October 15 each year and stay down until April 15 so the Fall salmon run would have access to spawning grounds.
Working with the former General Manager Ron Nelson, in four years we were able to connect with six agencies and gather money from several sources and build a $1.2 M fish ladder, allowing the salmon two miles of spawning gravels, in which 300 salmon spawned the first year and many more each year thereafter. Nothing has been done on Auburn Ravine by NID since then.
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 was installed in 2013 and, according to former SARSAS Board member Ron Ott, should prevent up to 90% of anadromous fishes returning to the Pacific from being entrained in the Canal. The dual conical, self-cleaning screen was built and installed by Daryll Hayes of ISI, Inc.
This installation means a very large percentage of Auburn Ravine smolt will be able to successfully reach the Sacramento River and swim to the Pacific Ocean to mature and return to Auburn Ravine to repeat their cycle.
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 flashboard diversions: the Coppin, Davis, Tom Glenn, Lincoln Ranch Duck Club, Aitken Ranch, Moore, Nelson Lane and the Lincoln Gauging Station.
The Scheiber Dam was removed just below Lincoln and Albert Scheiber installed a conical fish screen paying for it with his own money to prevent salmon entrainment into his canal.
Nevada Irrigation District is still stalling on installation of a fish ladder over the Hemphill Dam, in our judgment completely misusing $177K of taxpayer money granted to NID by CDFW for fish passage over Hemphill. NID submitted a grant application which was approved by CDFW to unnecessarily repeat studies already completely on Auburn Ravine and Hemphill for the sake of delaying Dam removal. SARSAS is exploring legal avenues to correct this problem.
NID is currently focused on building the highly unpopular Centennial Dam on Bear River. Even so, the NID Board of Directors voted at its June 2016 meeting to select Option 4 by Kleinschmidt Construction to remove the Hemphill Dam. The staff of NID under GM Remleh Scherzinger is now delaying saying the dam will not be removed until well into 2020. This delay is an attempt to avoid dealing with Nine Water Rights violations filed against NID by the FWN, hopefully forcing SARSAS to get FWN to remove the Nine Water Rights Protests. Scherzinger in a letter to FWN Negotiator Chris Shutes said when the Nine Water Rights violations were worked out, then NID would focus on removing Hemphill Dam.
He is deal making with taxpayer money and the lives of thousands of salmon and steelhead. Fish are prevented from reaching prime spawning gravels in Auburn Ravine while salmon and steelhead in California face extinction while NID fiddles.
Before salmon can reach Wise Powerhouse, located one mile downstream from Auburn, NID must complete work on removing Hemphill Dam and either removing or providing fish passage over its 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. Opening Auburn Ravine fully to salmon and steelhead spawning would allow thousands of spawnings each year helping to prevent salmon extinction in California.
Once NID’s two dams, Hemphill and Gold Hill, have fish passage installed, the salmon and steelhead can reach Wise Powerhouse, one mile downstream from the City of Auburn.
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.