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Trap and Haul –a better Central Valley option

Last month, CalTrout’s blog had a post on a federal government program to trap-and-haul salmon and move them upstream of Shasta Reservoir.1 Earlier we also commented on trap-and-haul ( The National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) Recovery Plan for Central Valley Salmon and Steelhead prescribes trap-and-haul, as does their biological opinion for operation of state and federal Central Valley water projects.

Transporting adult salmon above dams and the offspring back below the dams is an expensive and difficult task. No one loves trap-and-haul, but NMFS considers it necessary to ensure that endangered salmon and steelhead do not go extinct. The prescription comes out of frustration that the populations are declining below the dams. Given the choice of extinction or doing something that no one is thrilled with, NMFS has chosen a set of actions in the latter category. The feds have again begun raising Winter Run Chinook in the fish zoo at Livingston Stone Hatchery to ensure there is some genetically pure stock available in the future. Having a wild stock above Shasta in the McCloud River seems a wiser option, given that those fish would be wild even if they spend some time in a truck. It is a further hedge against conditions like the past two years when the Bureau of Reclamation failed to keep their promise to protect the Winter Run downstream of Shasta.

NMFS has also prescribed trap-and-haul to pass Spring Run Chinook and Steelhead around Shasta Reservoir and other Central Valley dams. Stakeholders on the Yuba are developing a plan to carry out the prescription.

In a second blog post, CalTrout recently asked: “Will winter run go the way of the bull trout?”2 Most assuredly, trap-and-haul can help maintain populations while we get our act together below the dams. It’s a better option than a zoo.