Davis South Campus Superfund Oversight Committee
November 30, 1998
Remedial Project Managers
DOE-UCD LEHR Superfund Site
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 96616
Dear Remedial Project Managers,
I have copied a portion of Putah Creek Council's notice of November 29, 1998, titled "1st Salmon of 1998/..." where Dr. Peter Moyle, UCD, describes his sighting of Salmon in Putah Creek. There is a lot of interest and excitement in the Davis community regarding the spawning of Salmon in Putah Creek. It is important that a very high water quality be maintained in the Creek to protect Salmon reproduction. DSCSOC is concerned about the LEHR Superfund site's impacts on Putah Creek's water quality. The protection of the public's health, water resources and the environment must be given priority in the LEHR Superfund site investigation/remediation.
Julie Roth, Ex. Dir.
Dr. Peter B. Moyle
Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology
University of California
Saturday (28 November 1998)
Feeling in the need for some time on the water, I convinced my brother-in-law, Bruce Arneson, to take a paddle down Putah Creek with me on a sunny fall afternoon. The air was warm and clear and the water was at least clear, with just enough flow to float a canoe over most riffles. We put in at one of my study sites a mile or so upstream of the Stevenson Road bridge and almost immediately managed to carelessly flip the canoe in some fast water while avoiding an overhanging branch. I am used to being wet and cold and Bruce expressed a willingness to continue so we plunged onward, ducking trees and brambles, enjoying the filtered yellow light of fall, and the birds flying ahead of us, from black phoebes to kingfishers to redtailed hawks to great blue herons. A short distance below Stevenson Bridge an otter slid from the bank into the water ahead of us and swam down stream. This was the first otter I have seen on the creek, although my students and others have been reporting them to me for years. Other canoeists I have run into this year at the University picnic grounds have mentioned consistently seeing a pair of them in the area..
About half way between Stevenson and Pedrick road, we were navigating a narrow riffle when I was startled by the sight of two chinook salmon darting upstream, within a few inches of the canoe. Both were about two feet long and one, presumably the female, had a ring of white around the caudal peduncle (tail), the kind of wearing away of skin that indicates she had been digging a redd for burying her eggs. We pulled the canoe over and walked back to the riffle. There were some large areas of clean gravel, obvious indications of spawning. We continued downstream, hoping to find more salmon, but those were the only ones we saw.
I realize that two salmon doth not a salmon run make, but it is encouraging to know that at least two fish made it up and were able to spawn. And this year's first sighting is a full month earlier than last year's sighting. For the past couple of weeks I have been getting reports of salmon in Willow Slough, so I have been hoping to see them in the creek. A canoe survey last week with my son produced no sightings (just a good time). It seems that there has not yet been enough rain-generated flow, unimpeded by the dams, so far this year. Fortunately, the barriers to upstream movement are down, thanks to farmer Greg Schmid, new Area Manager Dave Feliz at the Vic Fazio Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, and Department of Fish & Game staff Bob Mapes, Nick Villa and others. Now all we need is water below the Putah Diversion Dam in the fall that more closely mimics the unimpeded natural flow.
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