Last week’s storm did more than just cut into the drought. It both provided great conditions to release the winter run of Chinook salmon and started to fill up the reservoirs around Northern California.
Representatives form the Livingston and Coleman Hatcheries were on hand Monday evening to release 193,000 salmon fry into the Sacramento River at Caldwell Park in Redding.
The rain helped their cause by widening the river and increasing the flow rate. Both help the salmon by giving them more space to swim down the river and providing some camouflage with dirt and detritus stirred up by the faster flowing water.
“We’ve got some tributaries downstream that are putting in some good water, and colored water,” said Scott Hamelberg, Coleman Hatchery project leader. “That’ll give the fish a little bit of protection as they move downstream.”
The higher river levels will also make the swim to the ocean a more comfortable journey as the fish will have more river to swim in and more room to spread out. Both the wider river and the cloudier water make it harder for predators to get the fish.
The rain has also helped the reservoirs around the valley. Both Lake Oroville and Lake Shasta have seen increases in the past several days. Lake Oroville rose seven feet and the larger Lake Shasta has risen just over one foot since the rain started Wednesday.
But the Department of Reclamation said they aren’t satisfied yet, both lakes are still far below their normal levels for this time of year.
“We really hope that [the lake] continues [to rise],” said Sheri Harral, a Shasta Dam official. “We are certainly, by no means, out of the woods. We’re still 130 feet down.”
Officials said they would like to have another 80 to 100 feet of water by this time in Lake Shasta.
Although the lake level rises have been very dramatic, they’re by no means the most dramatic in the state. Near Sacramento, Lake Folsom – which is much smaller than either the Oroville or Shasta reservoirs – saw a 13 foot rise in just four days.