Drought, Warming Temperatures Threaten Endangered California Salmon Population

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GOLD RIVER, CALIFORNIA - MAY 11: Young fingerling Chinook salmon jump out of the water in a raceway at Nimbus Hatchery on May 11, 2021 in Gold River, California. As California enters an extreme drought, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is beginning to truck millions young hatchery-raised Chinook salmon closer to the Pacific Ocean to assist the fish with migration.  (Justin Sullivan via Getty Images)

California’s ongoing drought and predicted heatwave is causing overly warm and low level waters and threatening to kill off the entire populations of already endangered species like the chinook salmon. Negotiations between the State Water Resources Control Board and the federal Bureau of Reclamation approved a plan for managing water levels. However, experts predict that releasing water into the irrigation system this early will disrupt salmon spawning season and could kill as many as 88% of the salmon in the river. These complications coincide with the increase in a parasite that’s also killing off the fish. We discuss the impact of poor water conditions and increasing heat and hear what creative options are on the table to save the salmon.


Tara Duggan, staff writer, San Francisco Chronicle

Howard Brown, policy advisor, NOAA Fisheries

John McManus , president, Golden State Salmon Association