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Salmon festival answers call, returns to Lincoln this weekend

By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger Reporter
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Raising awareness about ways to increase the salmon population and the benefits of keeping water clean are two goals of this weekend’s Calling Back the Salmon Celebration. That’s according to festival coordinator Kelly Velasco. Velasco expects attendance to increase this year, especially since popular regional band Mumbo Gumbo plays there Saturday. This is the festival’s third year. The first year had a crowd of 300 and last year’s crowd was at 700, according to Velasco. “I’m hoping for more than 700 this year,” said Velasco, who estimated the cost to put on the event at between $10,000 and $15,000. “Our goal is to break even. Any extra money raised from the event would go toward building fish ladders.” The event, hosted by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation and Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS), is from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday at McBean Park, 65 McBean Park Drive. Event sponsors include Thunder Valley Casino, Stantec, Whole Foods, Wildland Inc., Restoration Resources, PG&E and the State Department of Water Resources Saturday’s festivities kick off at 8 a.m. with The Salmon Run, a 5K run/walk. The run starts at 8 a.m. on East Avenue on the north side of Highway 193. The course proceeds north on East Avenue and turns east on East 12th Street, which becomes Virginiatown Road. The turnaround will be marked with a judge in place. Participants are encouraged to park vehicles at McBean Park. Registration can be completed through active.com. Race information is available at sarsas.org. Mumbo Gumbo plays from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Gazebo in McBean Park. Saturday’s activities also include a children’s area with crafts related to salmon and water and face painting, live animals, a hawks’ demonstration, fly casting demonstrations by Granite Bay Flycasters, and a booth where winning artwork from the Auburn Ravine Art Show will be displayed. The artwork will be raffled off at the festival. Food vendors include Mi Pueblito Taqueria, Old Town Pizza, Whistle Stop Coffee Shop, Kim’s Country Kitchen, and B&B Barbecue. Visitors also will find informational booths at the festival featuring local water agencies, the State Department of Water Resources, interactive fishing and Big M Fishery. During Sunday’s blessing ceremony, Native Americans Bill Jacobson and Ty Gore will lead visitors in the blessing. A medicine circle is formed during the ceremony, according to festival chairman Stan Nader. “Everyone participates and does a dance,” Nader said. “Everyone says a prayer in the medicine circle. They take a sea shell with burning cedar and they circle with you. They give you cedar and you put it in the water (This calls the salmon back.). This is my third year and it’s neat because everyone participates. There’s singing and drumming.” Nader said approximately 70 individuals participated in last year’s ceremony. The festival is special to Nader because of his memories of salmon as a boy. “As a young boy growing up on Coon Creek, I can remember salmon coming up Coon Creek,” Nader said. “I have a special connection with salmon. My dad loved to go salmon fishing. My brothers and I would go out of Sausalito salmon fishing. It was a thing fathers and sons did.” The festival’s focus is to connect the community to the SARSAS mission, which is to return the salmon run to the Auburn Ravine, Nader said. A long-term goal of SARSAS is to build a viewing station along Auburn Ravine so anyone can watch the salmon pass by, according to Nader. Short-term goals include building more fish ladders, about four within the city limits. The next fish ladder project is for the Hemphill Dam area. SARSAS is contributing $10,000 toward a Nevada Irrigation District environmental study to determine whether to remove the barrier currently there or place a fish ladder in the NID structure at that location. A ladder built last fall using $1 million in state and federal grant monies was constructed at the approach of the Lincoln gauging station next to the dog park inside the Auburn Ravine Preserve, according to Nader. This is the station where NID measures water sold to farmers downstream. Nader said SARSAS makes sure 13 flashboard dams found three years ago from Lincoln to the Sacramento River at Verona are removed each fall. That’s after the irrigation season before the salmon start their journey up the Sacramento River and through its tributaries, including Auburn Ravine, in October and early November, to spawn. For more information, visit callingbackthesalmoncelebration.org. Lincoln News Messenger Editor Carol Feineman contributed to this article.