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Salmon Report

2013 Pre-Spawn Mortality and Population Evaluation

Read the 2013 report from Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.

Carcass Count Completed

The Dept. of Fish and Wildlife counted carcasses by the thousands. They chop the older carcasses and tag fresh ones with a round disc. Counting the number of tags left after a week helps determine how many are being dragged off by the bears and other critters which improves the accuracy of the count. The total estimate for the 2013 spring run was 15,886, up by over 4,000 from the snorkel count of 11,470. Last yer's run was estimated at 17,000. Are we there yet? View 58 years of run numbers.

2013 Snorkel Count

As was expected the summer snorkel count is a near record and snorkel counts are historically low. With 11,470 counted, 2800 more than last year, we could be looking at a run of 18,000 or more. The all-time record is from 1998 with over 20,000 spawning salmon. Things are looking good. Read report.

2011 Snorkel Count

Read the DFG report for 2011.

2010 Butte Creek spring run count

The final carcass count is in for the 2010 Butte Creek spring run and the decline continues. Only 1979 salmon were counted, the lowest number in 13 years. Sacramento Valley salmon are heading for extinction. We can not let this happen!

Butte Creek supports the largest run of Wild, Naturally Spawned Spring Run Chinook Salmon in California

Update Sept. 2, 2009: Read Allen Harthorn's State of the Salmon 2009.

Restoration

Over $30,000,000 (see Restoration Handout) has been spent on improved fish passage in the lower watershed. Much of the best salmon habitat is blocked by Centerville Head Dam and still has reduced flows (71% to 82% reduction in summer) and increased water temperature below the dam.

Descriptions and status of various restoration projects is avaiable here.

Spring Run Salmon

By all measures wild Butte Creek Spring Run have recovered, averaging over 10,000 salmon per year for the last twelve years (see Spring Run Population), while hatchery Fall Run stocks have collapsed. This years run is not so good. Tagged stray Butte Creek Spring Run have shown up in Battle Creek, Clear Creek, and the Feather River Hatchery.

Data provided by California Department of Fish and Game and is based on snorkel counts and/or carcass counts. Numbers are approximate and generally reflect pre-spawning live adults except where noted.  Pre-spawn mortality numbers are provided in years where data has been made available.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, often called the "Doubling Plan", estimated that a population of approximately 3000 returning adults a year would represent a recovered Butte Creek spring run Chinook population. The fifty year average for Butte Creek is now over 2,700 adults per year. the thirty year average is 3,600+, the twenty year average is 5,400+, and the average for the last eleven years, counting the pre-spawn mortalities, is a staggering 12,000+. The Department of Fish and Game and PGE believe that the creek is saturated at 6,000 adults and refuse to open new habitat above the impassable Centerville Dam. Unfortunately the run collapsed this year to 2,561 spring run.

Friends of Butte Creek believes that Butte Creek spring run Chinook are fully recovered at 3000 fish per year unless new habitat is made available. This is a Public Trust Resource and it can not be wasted.

Steelhead Trout

Steelhead trout are not doing well at all. (see Fishing Report) Their habitat is greatly reduced by hydroelectric operations and all downstream migrants are diverted into the PGE flumes because there are no screens. Many forest and aquatic creatures have benefited including Bald Eagles like the one in the photo, seen last May.