Chapter 2 of Our Watershed Stories is a journey up the Dry Creek Valley to Warm Springs Dam and Lake Sonoma.
“This dam was put here to alleviate severe flooding on dry creek,” says Peter LaCivita, a Fisheries Biologist with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, “and to provide water supply, recreation, and conservation opportunities.”
As a result, Dry Creek is wet year-round! You might think that the native fish would love having a dam. To understand why they don’t, you first have to understand wild salmon.
“The adults will run upstream to where they were born,” explains Brett Wilson, the Senior Hatchery Supervisor for the California Department of Fish & Game. “They’re imprinted on that stream because they reared on that stream as juveniles, and now they’re coming back from the ocean. And they will pair up. They will find mates.”
But not if they can’t find their way home in the first place.
“In 2008, our agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Sonoma County Water Agency generated a Biological Opinion that addressed water supply and flood control.”
“They’re ultimately going to have 6 miles returned to it’s natural habitat,” adds Don Wallace, a partner in Dry Creek Vineyard & Winery, says, “I think that’s a great legacy.” Among Wallis’s accolades, he was awarded a 2011 “Leadership in Sustainability Award” through the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy.
Meanwhile, the Warm Springs Hatchery is helping the Coho Salmon population come back.
“I’ll raise from 100,000 to 250,000 fish,” says Ben White, a Biologist at the US Army Corps of Engineers who works at the Warm Springs Hatchery’s Captive Breeding Program. “Our goal is for those fish to return to these streams as spawning adults, and to re-establish a self-sustaining run of coho salmon.”
A lifetime resident of the bucolic Dry Creek Valley, Don Wallis recalls “My grandfather told me one time when I was very young: My job in this life is to turn this land over to my kids in better condition than I got it.
“And that’s really what I am after.”
Our Watershed Stories: Chapter 2 of 9
Sonoma County Water Agency
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© 2012 KRCB – North Bay Public Media. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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