Only 3 percent of the juveniles of an endangered salmon species survived the drought along the Sacramento River in 2015 despite extraordinary efforts by federal and state officials to save them, federal officials said Monday.
It marked the second straight year that the vast majority of juvenile winter-run Chinook salmon were cooked to death on the Sacramento, according to data released by the National Marine Fisheries Service. In 2014, only 5 percent of the juveniles survived.
Because Chinook have a three-year spawning cycle, the 2016 season is considered critical to keeping the salmon from heading to the brink of extinction. Federal and state officials are working on a new plan to preserve the species this year.
The salmon’s survival depends on keeping the Sacramento River waters cold. Last year officials deliberately kept additional water in Lake Shasta longer than usual in an effort to cool down the river’s water. The plan was very controversial among downstream farmers, who were deprived of supplies during crucial times of the agricultural season. It also required dam managers to release additional waters out of Folsom Lake, in order to make up for the loss of water coming out of Shasta. At one point Folsom’s lake level was reduced to its lowest level ever.
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