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Fish Saved, Humans Evacuated!

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was trying to make sure they were doing everything possible to save fish.

Mar 14, 2017

As the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) was trying to deal with the emergency of the Oroville Dam Spillway and make sure people were safe, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was trying to make sure they were doing everything possible to save fish.  

The NMFS wanted the DWR to "ramp down the releases more gradually to protect Chinook salmon, sturgeon, steelhead and other fish that ply the Feather River."  

But, the NMFS didn't just want the DWR to ramp down the releases.  They had a whole list of requests that you wouldn't believe in a situation where 200,000 people were being evacuated.  See if you can get through this list without wondering where these unelected bureaucrats are coming from:


1. Reductions in flows should occur during hours of darkness in the Feather River 
to protect juvenile salmonids, especially Chinook salmon.

2. Reductions in flows (down ramping rate) should occur as slowly as possible, to allow fish 
to follow the receding water elevation.

3. Minimum flows should be maintained at all times. Flows should not  below 
the minimum instream flows. If flows are expected to  below the minimum instream 
flows, DWR should release water from the spillway to ensure minimum instream 
flows are met.

4. Consider initially dredging a channel through the debris that will allow water to flow to
maintain minimum flows or more. Provide flow through the river valves and/or the 
powerhouse. Repairs at the powerhouse and river valves should be prioritized 
to provide water to the Feather River immediately.

5. Address water supply issues (quantity and quality) at the Feather River Fish Hatchery 
and Thermalito Annex. Ensure adequate water is available to these facilities and that 
the turbidity, oxygen, and pH stay below levels that will stress fish.
a. Aerial photography of the Feather River prior to flow reductions and after flow reductions 
will assist in prioritizing locations to survey.
b. Put boats, equipment, and people on the river to survey for fish stranded in pools. 
c. Prioritize areas to survey based on areas of higher risk. Use aerial surveys to
identify areas of high risk.
d. For large pools, and for pools with unknown stranding, sample for presence using eDNA for 
Chinook salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon.
e. Plan on more than 5 days for monitoring and potential rescues. Monitoring and rescue 
operations should occur throughout the period of reduced flows and the dredging activities.
f. Collect samples and information about stranded, rescued fish, and dead fish.

1. Take pictures and video of locations and fish sampled. Check the date stamp on 
the cameras. With the video frequently verbally record the time, date, and location.
11. In the case of surveys, the numbers and species of fish should be estimated
and recorded.
111. In the case of fish rescues the numbers and species of fish should be identified and 
pictures taken. Where possible and it will not significantly impact the implementation of 
the fish rescue, tissue samples and scales should be collected. The date, time, location, 
presence or absence of adipose fins, and who collected the samples needs to be recorded 
on the bags. Number the bags and locations. 
IV. In the event of dead fish, pictures should be taken, the carcasses should be
placed in a plastic sealing bag, and record the date, time, location, presence or absence 
of adipose fins, and who collected the sample recorded on the bag. Number the bags and 
locations. Freeze large fish as soon as possible.If ethanol is available, use it to preserve 
samples, otherwise freeze.
7. Monitor water quality, turbidity, DO, pH, and adjust dredging operations if these 
parameters reach levels that may adversely affect fish at the fish barrier dam or in 
the hatchery.

8. Water should be released from the Thennalito Afterbay to augment flows in the Feather
River, while maintaining water deliveries to the Thermalito Annex.
9. If possible, install turbidity curtains or booms to reduce potential turbidity levels, to 
the maximum extent possible.
10. Coordinate with the Corps, Yuba County Water Agency, PG&E, and the Nevada 
Irrigation District to augment flows from storage in the Yuba watershed. Also coordinate 
with the South Sutter Water District regarding the availability of water from the Bear 
River for flow augmentation.
11. Deploy as many people as possible to survey and respond to fish stranding, and
coordinate with CDFW.
12. Submit a report of the activities and results to NMFS within 30 days.

This is only part of the letter.  You can read the entire letter here.  These unelected bureaucrats appear to  be running the asylum and our elected officials don't seem to have the guts to rein them in.

Read the Entire Letter

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