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Klamath River Salmon Release

by Conservation Director Bob Garbarino

As of last month, the California Department of Fish and Game has released 1.1 million juvenile fall run Chinook salmon into the Klamath River. The goal is to release 2 million fish. These fish were hatched at the Iron Gate Hatchery on the Klamath River and were originally scheduled to be released last spring. However, due to drought conditions and a disease outbreak, the fish were relocated to three other locations over the summer. This is good news for a river that has seen its once-storied Chinook salmon runs decimated for a variety of reasons—including low flows and dams. The other positive news is the planned removal of four dams on the Klamath that will allow fish more access to spawning waters.

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Zayante Creek Habitat Improvement Project

by Conservation Bob Garbarino

The Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County, the City of Santa Cruz, the San Lorenzo Valley Water District and the County of Santa Cruz have partnered to complete an instream improvement project on Zayante Creek. The work took place on a one mile stretch of the upper creek. Large trees were anchored in the creek to improve the natural habitat for steelhead and coho salmon. Historically, some of the higher juvenile steelhead population densities in the San Lorenzo River watershed been found in Zayante Creek. Check out the web link below:

Make sure you view this brief Youtube video that describes the project.

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Salinas River cleanup 2021

by Geoff Malloway - Central Coast Flyfishing

About 24 volunteers showed up at the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge this morning to clean up garbage and illegal camps. The Salinas Valley Fly Fishers, Santa Cruz Fly Fishermen, Trout Unlimited and the Carmel River Steelhead Association were represented. This year, about half of a 30-yard dumpster was collected…down from the full 30-yard dumpsters of previous years. Thanks to all who showed up and, to those who fish the refuge but couldn’t help this time, see you next November.
A special thanks to Benny and Jay Jefferson, of Jefferson Ag Management, for their continued stewardship of the refuge and use of their heavy equipment! Also, thanks are due to the Monterey Regional Waste Management District for the use of their 30-yard dumpster!

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Fish Handling–Best Practices

by Conservation Director Bob Garbarino

Before I delve into the subject of this article, I want to thank Steve (Stosh) Rudzinski for encouraging me to get involved in a more active role in SCFF as Conservation Director and to Tom Hogye and the board for welcoming me and their support.   If any of you reading this have any input, questions about conservation as it pertains to the club or want to get involved, please contact me.

On the subject of fish handling to help them survive after release, I came across an organization devoted to that endeavor.  I never heard of them but some of you members may have. The outfit is called Keep Fish Wet. I found out about them while visiting the FFI website. Reading some of the science-based tips on the website has me realizing I can do much better in the process of landing (or netting), photographing (if desired) and releasing fish under various conditions.

Here is a summary of the Tips found under Best Practices on the Keep Fish Wet website

Follow Local Regulations
Examples are some areas prohibit removing specific species of fish from the water and requirements to use barbless hooks.

Think Twice Before Going After Spawning Fish
One of the reasons given is that targeting and catching fish while spawning can disrupt and impact their lifecycle. This depends on the species of fish and spawning habits.

Be Wary of Warm Water
As water warms, the dissolved oxygen in it decreases. This causes the fish to get stressed quicker and take longer for them to recover. Some species are less resilient than others.

Use Barbless Hooks
Barbless hooks cause less damage to the fish’s mouth and are easier to remove. They are also much easier to remove from your body and clothing.

Use Artificial Baits
We fly fishers by nature adhere to this suggestion. This is the number one cause of fish mortality as they are more likely to swallow bait.

Use Rubber Nets
Rubber nets cause less damager to fish slime, scales, fins and gills. Hooks are less likely to get stuck in the net.

Limit Use of Lip Grippers
Lip grippers should only be used if there are no alternatives to controlling and handling fish (tiger fish, is an example). If it is used, never hold a fish vertically.

Carry Hook Removal Devices
Ideally this tool will help reduce the time it takes to release the fish with less damage. If the fish swallows the fly, cut the line instead of trying to remove the fly.

Limit Fight Time
Try to bring the fish to hand quickly without overplaying it. This will reduce stress on the fish.

Hold Fish In or Over Water
If held over land or a boat and if it slips out of your hand, that is obviously not good for the fish.

Grip Fish Carefully
Try to hold the fish gently without squeezing. Avoid placing you hand over the fish’s mouth and gills. Hold larger fish at the base of the tail and support the body close to the pelvic fins. Consider keeping very large fish in the water.

Photograph Wet Fish
This shows fish in their element which can make cool photos. Try to keep air exposure to ten seconds or less.

Only Revive Fish That Cannot Swim
If a fish can swim away on its own, let it do so. It will recover better. If the fish appears to have lost its equilibrium, submerge it and face it into the current. If you are in still water, move the gently to simulate swimming. See the website for other techniques specific to other fish like tuna.

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November River Cleanup Days

by Bob Garbarino

Hi SCFF club members,

There are three river cleanup days scheduled in November. This is a great way to provide community service in a hands-on fashion. Volunteering for these events could be an opportunity for those members with children needing community service credits for school.

Soquel Creek

Soquel Creek Cleanup

San Lorenzo River

San Lorenzo River Cleanup

Salinas River

Volunteer for Salinas River Cleanup, Sunday November 21st.

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Conservation Shift, Welcome Robert ‘Bob’ Garbarino

by Conservation Slim

Board members sometimes get bored with the same job year after year and realize it’s time to change course which is what happened at our board meeting Wednesday night Sept. 15, as is tradition every Sept we look for someone to replace us which does not happen very often but when it does, a new energy brings freshness to the group.

First of all, our official CastMaster Mark Traugott is stepping down as the active club instructor while instead working with 3 or 4 fishermen at a time on the river and not part of any crowd. I will be stepping down as the Conservation Chair and into Marks waders where I feel more comfortable and enjoy offering a regular monthly or bi monthly casting clinic at Jade St Park for the time being.  Sam Bishop who has been the leader of the ‘before meetings’ casting clinic (Now Covid Closed). Between Sam and I, we can help a larger group and with such an experienced membership, we have specialists who can do presentations on spey or switch rods and advanced techniques I have yet to learn.

I want to welcome Bob Garbarino as our new Conservation Chairman, who I first met on a volunteer mission to save fingerling steelhead trout from a rapidly drying up local stream (over 100 fish that day). I asked Bob to help me out sometimes and submit articles for the newsletter which he did and now after a few fishing trips together, I asked him if he could help us/me out.  Hooray!  This is my last post as California Slim.  My last duty I performed was to slash our annual contributions to charitable organizations we all agreed could survive without our $100-$300 donation. (Savings $1900.) Local organizations were funded as usual or cut in half.    Thank you all and watch your GoogleGroup email for the next casting clinic and reminders for the fish outs at the ForeBay. Oct 7-9 and Nov 4-7 2021.

Peace, Stosh

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CalTrout News – California Budget, Water and Fish

by Conservation Contributor Bob Garbarino

CalTrout—one of the organizations that our club supports—reported that the California Legislature has released the final budget language. CalTrout has been actively engaged in the budget process to advocate for the many factors that influence healthy wild fish. In the budget is funding for addressing conservation issues such as:

$105 million to support fish passage and wildlife corridor projects.
$33 million for fisheries and wildlife support.
$323 million to fund water and drought programs.
And notably, $12.5 million for the removal of dams to preserve the federally endangered southern steelhead trout.

Thank you club members for your support that is used to fund groups like CalTrout. For more details, click on the web link.

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Klamath River story

by 'Stosh'

This link is the best one I have read to date and brings me up to date on this ancient and historic ‘fish channel’. The present dilemma is the timing of dam removal and the amount of mud and sediment that will fill and choke the lower river where the tribal fishermen can take an X number of pounds yearly, what they got this year  is 1/3 and the fish are trapped in low warming water. The water behind Iron Gate dam is shallow and warm and the surface is covered in green algae, all to be flushed downstream. A careful dismantling and timing with the winter rains to flush out the sediment as quickly as possible and then wait for the river to heal itself again.  We carefully un-do what was a bad idea in the first place.

Dam work is due to start next year….it has been postponed before, it’s a very complicated operation politically and logistically and humanely.


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Klamath farmers grow fish to quell water war

by Steve Rudzinski referencing LA Times article

Farmer Tracey Liskey believes his efforts to save the endangered sucker fish will help end a conflict over water on the California-Oregon border.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

JULY 22, 2021 5 AM PT
TULELAKE, Calif. — It’s a strange place to find fish, deep in the high desert, where drought-baked earth butts against scrubby mountains.
But water spews from the hot springs on Ron Barnes’ land near the California-Oregon border, pure and perfect for rearing c’waam and koptu, two kinds of endangered suckerfish sacred to Native American tribes.

Barnes, who holds an advanced degree in aquaculture from UC Davis, has dug dozens of ponds on his property and filled them with thousands of young suckerfish. He hopes raising and releasing them into the wild will end the region’s epic water wars — or at least get federal regulators out of the mix before his neighbors descend into violence.

“We have to take a pragmatic view of this thing,” said Barnes, standing near his black-bottomed lagoons under an intense morning sun. “The single most effective way to get the government off our backs is to restore the fish population.”

The suckerfish, which are on the endangered species list, are at the heart of a rancorous water controversy. They typically spawn in nearby Upper Klamath Lake, an agricultural reservoir that is growing increasingly dry and toxic. To ward off their extinction, federal regulators have cut off every drop that normally flows from the lake to the Klamath Reclamation Project, a federally built web of irrigation canals that once held the promise of almost limitless water for nearby farms.  …


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Gill Net Buy-Back In California

by Bob Garbarino

In the California budget for 2021-2022, $1.3 million is allocated to pay each commercial fishermen $110,000 in exchange for turning in their gill net.   Gill nets are huge nets (up to one mile) suspended in the water column that ensnare any fish or mammal that gets entangled in the net.  Sea turtles, whales, sea lions and dolphins are some of the sea creatures that have been trapped in the nets.  California state law mandates that all gill nets be phased out by 2024.  Deep set buoy gear is the new method that is suggested to replace gill net fishing.  As expected, some commercial fishermen are resisting the change, claiming that gill nets are not as harmful as claimed by the NOAA and Oceana.  The fishermen also say that alternate fishing techniques are not commercially viable.  

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Pebble mine update

Our club’s  financial support has helped this campaign and one of our former ‘in person’ presenters at the Aptos Grange Hall, who lost his life on a sweeper tree on the American Creek AK, was our incentive to act for the noble causes to save the last non-dammed rivers in the North West and especially the greatest fisheries for commercial and sport salmon fishing in the  world. Pebble Mine is the big challenge and we must keep opposing them.

Dear Bristol Bay supporters,

We have exciting news to share with you! Yesterday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported that the Bristol Bay’s 2021 sockeye run reached the largest on record with 63.2 million fish returning to the bay. The 2021 run broke the 2018 standing record at 62.9 million fish returning to the region.

Thousands of years of Indigenous stewardship and 100+ years of sustainable commercial fishery management made this year’s record-breaking sockeye run in Bristol Bay possible. Science has shown that clean water and healthy fish habitat will continue to support this world-class fishery that produces roughly 50% of all sockeye salmon on the planet.

Even though the fishery’s biggest threat- the proposed Pebble mine– was denied the key federal permit last year, Bristol Bay isn’t safe yet. The region still needs durable and permanent protections to ensure that Pebble, or another mining company, won’t come back in the future. Join us in asking decision-makers to advance permanent protections for Bristol Bay today.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Congress have the opportunity to establish safeguards that, together, would protect the fish, people, and fish-based industries in Bristol Bay. They need to hear from people in Bristol Bay and beyond that this is a national treasure that requires permanent protection. Take action here. 

The 2021 run record is just one reason why Bristol Bay needs greater protection for the years to come. It’s another reason we say “No Pebble Mine– Not Here, Not Ever.” And it’s why our work doesn’t stop until we can fully assure that we will never have to fight this irresponsible mine plan again. Help us continue our work in Bristol Bay by making a donation today.

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Lahontan trout stocking in Lake Tahoe

by Steve Rudzinski

Article from

Our first two stockings of the 2021 season in Lake Tahoe are complete! This week we stocked 5,083 10 inch Pilot Peak Lahontan Cutthroat Trout on the Nevada side. To monitor and evaluate Pilot Peak LCT growth, survival, and movement around the Lake, 30% of those trout were FLOY tagged with a unique ID and phone number so that anglers can report their catch and help us collect this vital information. Thank you to the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the U.S. Forest Service-Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for the ongoing collaboration in providing a native trout for recreational angling opportunities in Lake Tahoe.

​Fun Facts:
-Lahontan Cutthroat Trout are the only trout native to Lake
-Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is the state fish of Nevada.
-Lahontan Cutthroat Trout are the Largest inland cutthroat trout in the world.

(Photo Credits USFWS)

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17 Million Chinook Salmon Release In California Bays Planned

by Conservation Contributor Bob Garbarino

It is estimated that up to 95% of wild salmon habitat has been wiped out by damming of rivers in California. Hatcheries have helped make up for the impact of dams.  Now amid the ongoing drought, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has launched a program to release 17 million Chinook Salmon smolt into San Francisco Bay and others—including Monterey Bay. The fish are being loaded in trucks from hatcheries and transported to the bay and released. Historically, the fish have been released into rivers and streams.  But, with drought-induced low flows coupled with warmer temperatures, the survival rate is extremely low. The hope is that more fish will have a better survival rate (estimated to be about 80%) which could provide some support for the $900 million commercial and sport salmon fishing business in the state. For more information, check out the web link.

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After 10 years of Decline The Klamath River Headed for Recovery

by Mark Rockwell, President, NCCFFI

The Klamath River was once the third most productive salmon & steelhead river in the lower 48, but more than 100 years ago four dams were built on it that blocked 250+ miles of spawning & rearing habitat. The license to operate those dams has now been transferred from PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Berkshire-Hathaway, to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation (KRRC) and the states of Oregon & California.

The license will transfer solely to KRRC later in 2021, and dam removal work will begin in the summer of 2022. The Kiewit Corporation will start decommissioning in January 2023, with all four dams removed by Fall 2023. Resource Environmental Solutions will implement & monitor restoration work after removal.

The Northern California Council of Fly Fishers International participated in early Klamath discussions in 2003; in 2004 Tribes, State & Federal agencies and other NGO parties joined the formal negotiations that will culminate in new spawning & rearing habitat and a healthy river.


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13 Day Fly Fishing trip through Montana

by 'Conservation Slim'

I really enjoyed this video and it was a wonderful escape to the days of  late 20’s early 30’s where dragging an inflatable raft down trails and rock to the river. The boys purchase a short size school bus and turn it into the camp out king on a small budget.  They drive north to Montana and fish the Madison and Missouri and another feeder stream. The guys are full of adventure, humor and the cooking will convince you that hungry fishermen will eat anything and say ‘yum’.  I hope you will sit back and enjoy the 13 day fishing trip.

Locally, good news for salmon fishermen on the bay, the Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project have contracted Fish and Wildlife hatchery trucks to deliver a full load of 60K chinook salmon smolt’s. Again the truck will just drop the fish from the roadway level into the bay. (May 25).

Lakes all over the state are down to levels that have launching boats impossible. The only 2 lakes (Eastern Sierra) that have launch ramps in operation is at Lake Davis and Frenchman’s. Some have the docks alongside the ramp and others do not so check ahead if you are pulling a boat. Float tubers never have to worry about that.

I guess we all know the drought has hit us again this winter. I measure 12.60″ only from this rainy season.  I cannot find a year except in 06/07 where we had 11.40″ locally in Santa Cruz/Soquel. We can expect this fire season will be constant till the rain returns in Nov/Dec. We can all do our part by saving water and shower with a friend.

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A Dam Close to Home

by Conservation Contributor Bob Garbarino

OK, this may not be big news like the dams being removed on the Klamath river, but it is in our own backyard. The Sempervirens Fund has received a $550,000 grant to remove an abandoned 110 year old dam on Mill Creek. The creek feeds the San Vicente watershed between Bonny Doon and Davenport. By removing the dam, both Coho salmon and the water customers of Davenport are expected to benefit. The fish are expected to have improved spawning habitat and access to more of the creek. The water quality for the 950 customers downstream will be improved by allowing more erosion of granite.

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MBSTP (Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project) update

by Sam Bishop

Since the big fire last year, things are moving along with the hatchery rebuild. Fundraising efforts to rebuild are underway from many sources. They include the need to replace the upper bridge for full access to the hatchery.

A few orders for the first phases of the rebuild have been placed to re-plumb the intakes and drains for tanks which survived last year’s fire more or less undamaged. Once we get the tanks re-plumbed and recirculation running, we will be able to receive this year’s production of our fish (Coho) back at the hatchery. It is not likely we will be able to actually spawn fish this year, as there are contamination and potential blockage issues from fire debris. The post-fire effects on the environment around the hatchery are not attractive for now.

Our Chinook releases (smolt hatched elsewhere) from the Santa Cruz and Monterey wharfs will have happened by the time this is published. We make a direct release into the Bay, well after dark. This has been quite successful from the Santa Cruz Wharf, as the birds, seals and sea lions are pretty much asleep and don’t seem to realize the giant feast being dumped in a few feet away! Sorry, but we could not publicize this in advance for the public to watch due to concerns about crowds and Covid restrictions.

For those not acquainted with our history of the Chinook releases; for years they were put into a big pen in the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor (also sometimes Moss Landing and Monterey), then released from there. Problem was that they acclimated to the Harbor and came back later when they grew up. That created problems with too many people coming in to fish, trespassing on boats, fishing where prohibited, and of course even more sea lions came in to feast.

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Artificial light and the decline of salmon smolts

by Conservation Slim

“Slim report”

Spring is here and fishing has been favorable for those who drove eastward to Pyramid Lake and especially the timing of our annual club fish-out which could not have been any better planned. My tenth year at the lake with the club and we all agreed that this is the grandest year for the fish and fishing as the bays filled with thousands of large trout all in spawning mode moving past our feet by the dozens and all day long.

The old pro’s in our group said the (4) of them conservatively landed over 500 fish that 6 days sitting on the platform chair.  I enjoyed all the friends and activity but had to slip away to a south lake beach to be more remote and fish deeper water from shore. Never before have I had multiple double digit fish days and landing more than one fish in the teens in a single day. The unusual thing was the high numbers of fish foul hooked this year. It was more likely your fish was foul hooked than legally hooked and even when you were trying not to set the hook too hard or too soon. Even small midges like the albino wino was hooking the fish in the fins more often than not.

News flash: Pyramid Lake, Pilot Peak fish up to 16 lbs are now being counted as they pass the fish ladder on the Truckee River. The hatchery folks (Lahontan National Fish Hatchery, Gardnerville NV) monitoring the fish as they pass are marking and numbering these spawners. It will be an exciting river to fish once the cutthroat trout establish themselves again.

An interesting article appeared in on the subject of artificial lights along the Sacramento River and how that affects the salmon smolts as they travel at night downstream to the sea. Predators like the striped and black bass use the added light to spot and feed on the smolts which in the distant past would use the dark nights to slip past these predators.  Full article can be found at:

Locally, as was in the local news and ‘Slim’ was not aware of the coho salmon planting into Scott Creek from our local Kingfisher Flat hatchery in Swanton. NOAA has control of this and has their own crew of workers. The low rivers was the reason to release the fish early. These fish survived the wildfire that heavily damaged the hatchery infrastructure and killed about half of last years hatched fish. The hatchery access was burned and destroyed (2 bridges over the creek). There is still no timeline as to the replacement of bridges and plumbing and tanks.  (Photo taken years ago of salmon smolts entering salt water for the first time, the jumping part ended when they started adding salt to the water in the tanker trucks prior to being driven to the harbor from the Feather River Hatchery).

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Good Bye Jon Baiocchi

by Stosh

‘Cal Slim’ remembers the time when he arrived at Lake Davis and Jon was standing in front of the fishing camp he set up for his clients at Grasshopper campgrounds. He was smiling and waived to us like he expected our arrival and we may need some info. He said the lake was fishing very poorly and that he was driving to Frenchman’s daily to be catching small but scrappy rainbows. He had that smile and penetrating eyes that made you feel comfortable and at ease being around him instantly. I know many of our members know what I mean and have fished with Jon and or followed his posts on Facebook.

I will always remember that campground as Baiocchi Flats from now on,  Life is so precious, It is very sad to realize he is gone but not forgotten.


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‘Conservation Slim’ Report

by Steve Rudzinski

April is just around the corner and many of us are counting the days till the annual FishOut at Pyramid Lake NV. Those of us who experienced last years closure of the lake at the time the club was renting the trailers from Pyramid Lodge as Crosby’s Lodge sold to the Paiute tribe last year.  My latest adventure (2/28-3/3) was very slow in the north half of the lake while the southern beaches were producing only one or two fish days with the rare individual who found the right spot and used the right color and fished hard all day would nail a half dozen fish with one over ten pounds.

By the time we meet in April the water will warm and more insects hatching, the numbers of fish inside casting range will increase as fish turn to eat more bugs than tui chubs. Joe Contaldi posts client catches daily on Facebook, most fish are in the 5-8 lb. range. Joe sets them up with indicators and flies like the albino wino about 6′-9′ under the surface using 2 fly set ups.

In the news from the Pebble Mine/Save Bristol Bay program, the new head of the EPA is Michael Regan. The promoters are very happy with this appointment and along with Congressmen DeFazio and Huffman (sub committee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife) who sent a letter immediately to him (Regan) to support  his ending any possibility for mining in that region using the authority under section 404 of the Clean Water Act.   Thank you to all members for allowing us to donate yearly to this great cause in the memory of fellow fisherman and guide who perished on the American Creek in AK only a month before his scheduled speaking engagement at the Aptos Grange in 2018.  John Squires was the one who donated his speaking fee to the Alaska Fund for Trout Unlimited. We continue to donate in John’s name.

Locally, the latest report from MBSTP and the hatchery at Kingfisher Flat in Swanton says, A setback due to water problems, a large portion of this years hatch of coho salmon were lost. Still about 35,000 fish will be transferred to our hatchery from the Warm Springs hatchery in the Russian River district. The hatchery is going to com through this all, even though it did not capture any steelhead this season as the rains did not allow any operation to exist.  I will let the club members know when there is a call for volunteers to help carry buckets of fish to release in the Scott Creek watershed.

Local supervisors are agreeing on taking action to clean up illegal camps along the San Lorenzo River. Fishermen especially  see the problem close up, it’s disgusting and painful to realize there is such disregard for beauty in nature. As a former information/referral operator at SWITCHBOARD 426-LIFE (1970-75) or until Governor Reagan took office, we existed on a bare bone budget from the State of CA.  I personally know the homeless problem began as soon as the mental hospitals were closed and inmates put on the streets.  Vietnam Vets suffering severe PTSD were 70% we had walk in the office daily, all we could do was show where the bridges were located to sleep. If we can’t offer a real mental health solution, the issue will not change no matter how much money is diverted.  We have to get the schools involved. Children are the best to grow a new generation who care about the environment.    Fish-On Everyone, Best to all,

Not So-Slim

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Klamath River Restoration

by Conservation Contributor Bob Garbarino

As fly fishermen/women and conservationists, what comes to mind when we think of dams?  We all, to some degree have learned about the harmful effects they can have on fish. I found this statement on the website that captures the negative impact of dams on the environment:
“Few things have such a fundamental impact on a river as a dam. Dams block the movement of fish and other aquatic species, inundate river habitat, impair water quality, and alter the flow regime necessary to sustain river life. As dams age and decay, they can also become public safety hazards, presenting a failure risk and a dangerous nuisance.”
One important example of dam removal is the long debated plan to remove four dams on the lower Klamath river in California and Oregon. This $450 million project—if it comes to fruition—will be the largest of its kind in US history. Oregon, California and the utility PacifiCorp, which operates the hydroelectric dams and is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway, will each provide one-third of the additional funds. The current plan calls for the dams to be removed by 2024.
If completed, the decimated Chinook and Coho salmon as well as steelhead populations are expected to increase their numbers significantly.