California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials on Monday went to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries Service to release one million spring-run Chinook salmon into the Feather River. The fish are listed on state and federal threatened species lists.
These fish are the first to be returned to the Feather River after being removed from the Feather River Hatchery in Oroville in early February, when the water became dangerously murky following the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway. The fish were moved to the Feather River/Thermalito Annex Hatchery until conditions improved at the Feather River Hatchery.
"Based on the weather forecast and current reservoir storage, we are anticipating high flows in the Feather River for some time," said CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Colin Purdy. "Releasing these fish now should allow them to imprint on Feather River water and move downstream before flows drop back down to normal levels."
"This is another example a multi-agency effort to respond to this incident," said California Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle. "We will continue to work closely to protect the Feather River and its fisheries."
Of the fish that were evacuated, another million spring-run Chinook and three million fall-run Chinook are still being held at the Annex Hatchery. Officials said CDFW and NOAA fisheries staff will continue to evaluate the remaining salmon and begin reintroducing them in northern California Rivers when the fish are mature enough.