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DEPARTMENT BACKGROUNDER: STATE, FEDERAL AGENCIES COOPERATE TO PROTECT SALMON

 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Fish and Game, in cooperation with federal fisheries agencies and the state and federal water project operators, continues to improve protection of endangered winter-run Chinook Salmon smolts as they migrate through the Sacramento/San-Joaquin Delta.
 Significant loss of endangered winter-run salmon is being prevented through operational constraints adopted by the state and federal water projects on Jan. 1.
 The operational plan was adopted following meetings in December by Fish and Game, the Department of Water Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the Central Valley Project (CVP).
 Fisheries experts expect this year at least 200,000 young winter-run salmon will move down the Sacramento River toward the sea. To help protect these fish, both the state and federal water project operators on Jan. 1 began adhering to pump operating constraints similar to those contained in the State Water Resources Control Board's new interim water quality standards for the Bay-Delta (Decision 1630). These constraints, set out in a letter from NMFS to the state and federal project operators, allow the loss of 500 winter-run salmon smolts (one-quarter of one percent of the estimated population) until an update operating plan is issued on Feb. 15. Under any operating plan, some fish are unavoidably lost, primarily due to predation in the Clifton Court Forebay.
 Part of the losses are the result of the inherent difficulty in providing protection to a migrating fish in an exceedingly complex hydrologic setting. Without a complete shutting down of the state and federal water project pumping in the winter -- an unacceptable option -- as well as stopping all other water diversions from rivers and the Delta, there is no way to prevent some incidental loss of migrating smolts.
 The winter-run salmon is listed as endangered under the state and federal endangered species acts. For that reason, the department, NMFS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been actively negotiating to constrain operations of both the CVP and the State Water Project to protect the fish.
 -0- 1/22/93
 /CONTACT: Pete Weisser of the California Department of Fish and Game, 916-653-6420/


CO: California Department of Fish and Game ST: California IN: SU:

TM-GT -- SF006 -- 8083 01/22/93 16:52 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 22, 1993
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