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Increase in salmon numbers spawns Auburn Ravine optimism

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Fish numbers are up in the river system that Pacific salmon pass through to spawn in Auburn Ravine. And the state Department of Fish and Game’s newly released figures from the fall run – 163,000 salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin river – are being greeted by Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead founder Jack Sanchez with guarded optimism. Sanchez said Wednesday that while he’s optimistic about the SARSAS efforts on Auburn Ravine, he still sees a lack of support on the state and federal level for bringing salmon numbers up. That would mean assisting groups like SARSAS on the 737 tributaries and rivers spawning can take place on, he said. The SARSAS drive to clear the way for salmon to make a spawning run all the way to Auburn is now on the outskirts of Lincoln. Sanchez said the Nevada Irrigation District now has plans to build a fish ladder at a gauging station east of the community this October. Two more ladders at two other dams would bring fish all the way to the Wise Road power station at Ophir Road – about a mile from Auburn. “I’m really optimistic about Auburn Ravine because we’re really opening it up,” Sanchez said. The 2010 fall run followed 2009’s total of 39,500 returning salmon – a low point since records first started being kept by Fish and Game in the 1970s. Spawning salmon numbers reached a peak in 2002, when 770,000 were counted in the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers and their tributaries. Scott Johnson, A SARSAS board member, said the move by the irrigation district to fulfill its promise to build a fish ladder at the Lincoln gauging station is an important step because fish haven’t been able to pass over or around that obstacle to get to better spawning beds upstream.