January 6, 2014
California's chinook salmon may be expanding their territory a bit further south with a so-called "experimental" population newly approved for the San Joaquin River upstream of its confluence with the Merced River, south of Modesto.
The move, announced by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in the Federal Register on December 31, may bring spring-run Chinook salmon back to the San Joaquin River system for the first time in more than 60 years. NMFS would likely use spring-run Chinook from Butte Creek, the largest remaining run of spring-run Central Valley Chinook, to repopulate the San Joaquin.
It's a remarkable development for the San Joaquin River, which for decades had so much water diverted from its bed to water crops that it often ran dry for a 60-mile stretch northwest of Fresno.