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Auburn Journal reports on volunteer efforts to clear streams

Auburn area restoration crews were clearing streams to make way for fish populations Wednesday morning as part of ongoing habitat restoration projects.

Conservation crews focused on overgrown portions of the North Auburn Ravine, just off of Vista Roble Drive.

Though the waterway showed few signs of life in its shallow waters, it did allow access to the heavy berry bushes and fallen branches.

Come winter, and hopefully significant rainfall, the streams will once again be a lively habitat for the native fall run salmon, also known as King salmon, populations.

Robert Hanes is a member and organizer with Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS). He lives nearby the North Auburn Ravine and enlisted the help of area volunteers to complete the stretch of creek.

The group is focusing on improving the 33 miles of the Auburn Ravine for the native fish species. So far their efforts have cleared more than 22 miles.

Hanes said the he hopes much needed rainfall this winter will bring the fish through the areas crews have cleared.

“We are trying to promote for people to take better care of their stream and make fish passage possible so that we can get some salmon and steelhead back up here,” Hanes said.

Hanes said the North Auburn Ravine has already been designated a steelhead habitat, and will soon become a designated salmon habitat once salmon friendly retrofits are completed to local dams.

Jack Sanchez, president and founder of SARSAS, said he would like to see native salmon species spawning in area streams once again.

The group has been working closely with state and federal wildlife officials as well as local water districts to increase the ease of access for the King salmon into areas like the Auburn Ravine.

Sanchez said officials and volunteers have been very gracious in the cooperative efforts to retrofit dams with the necessary fish ladders to better accommodate the fall, winter and spring runs.

Sanchez said all too often fish spawned in hatcheries produce weak offspring who are unable to survive in the wild.

The Sierra Native Alliance, a non-profit organization that focuses on the preservation of Native American culture, environment and families, provided the workforce for the stream clearing project.

Amanda Vasquez, project coordinator for the Sierra Native Alliance, said her organization was happy to get involved because of the important role salmon have played in Native American culture throughout the area. The team tackles approximately 25 projects a year.

“Salmon is obviously very closely tied to Native American culture,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said the reintroduction of the salmon would have a huge cultural and ecological significance for the area and the Native American community.

For now, both groups hope to improve the route of the fish for the good of the environment and the fish themselves.

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