Drought imperils California salmon, steelhead

SANTA CRUZ — The sensitive populations of fish that spawn in Northern California’s creeks and rivers are starting to suffer from the brutal drought threatening the state’s water supplies.
 
In Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties, the National Marine Fisheries Service has heard reports of anglers catching endangered coho salmon trapped by low water flows. In the American River, water levels have dropped to a 20-year nadir, endangering the redds, or nests of eggs, laid by chinook salmon, a consumer staple that supports hundreds of Bay Area fishermen.
 
“We’re sitting on pins and needles looking at the long-term weather forecast,” said Jon Ambrose, a biologist with the fisheries service, “and it’s not looking good.”
 
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