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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

STOCKTON FWO: Service Hosts the 4th Annual Lower Yuba River Accord Symposium

Region 8, July 9, 2012
4th Annual Yuba River Accord Symposium flyer.
4th Annual Yuba River Accord Symposium flyer. - Photo Credit: n/a
A beautiful canyon reach of the lower Yuba River, Fall 2011.
A beautiful canyon reach of the lower Yuba River, Fall 2011. - Photo Credit: n/a
Example of information collected with the Vaki Riverwatcher infrared fish counter at the Daguerre Point Dam fish ladder on the lower Yuba River.
Example of information collected with the Vaki Riverwatcher infrared fish counter at the Daguerre Point Dam fish ladder on the lower Yuba River. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Beth Campbell

The 4th Annual Lower Yuba River Accord Symposium was held on July 9, 2012, in Sacramento, Calif.

The Lower Yuba River Accord (LYRA) is an agreement that has been in place since 2008, following several years of litigation involving state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA), over lower Yuba River instream flow requirements. All parties agree that instream flows intended to benefit various life stages of salmon and steelhead have improved under the Yuba Accord.

The adequacy of, and potential changes to the LYRA flows, are being assessed as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing process for the Yuba River Development Project (FERC Project # 2246). This assessment largely depends on fisheries and habitat monitoring implemented by the LYRA Management Team (RMT). Results of the various monitoring studies form the basis for the annual LYRA symposia.

Both RMT and other participants agreed that this year’s symposium was the best yet, primarily because several years of salmon data have been collected, allowing results to be more broadly interpreted both within and between studies, and in light of overall trends in the California Central Valley. For example, monitoring of Chinook salmon adult abundance suggests that the Yuba River population has declined in the past several years, but not as severely as been observed in other watersheds of the Central Valley.

Large, outside influences such as ocean conditions, are thought to have negatively affected west coast salmon and steelhead populations in recent years. These may mask the beneficial effects of improved in-river conditions. Also, the water temperature regime in the lower Yuba River is perhaps the best in the Central Valley for supporting all life stages of salmon and steelhead due to releases from deep, cold, New Bullards Bar Reservoir. However, this may be leading to increased straying of hatchery-origin adults from the Feather River Fish Hatchery into the lower Yuba River, as observed from Vaki Riverwatcher counts at the Daguerre Point Dam fish ladders. The intermingling of hatchery fish with naturally spawning populations may increase spawning adult abundance, but often negatively affects natural fish survival and productivity in the long run. The effect on the Yuba River population is unknown at this time.

Additional information on fisheries and habitat monitoring studies occurring under the LYRA, including PowerPoint presentations from the LYRA symposia, can be found at http://www.yubaaccordrmt.com. More information on the Yuba River Development Project relicensing can be found at http://www.ycwa-relicensing.com.

Contact Info: Ramon Martin, 209-334-2968 ext. 401, ramon_martin@fws.gov