Category Archives: News
Floodplain experiment points to water policy solutions to support both salmon recovery and agriculture
UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the California Department of Water Resources and non-profit organization California Trout have launched an expanded experiment to better understand how the Sacramento River system can support healthy salmon populations.
For the first time this year, the agricultural floodplain habitat experiment will compare food web productivity and fish growth in three different kinds of river habitat. For the course of the experiment, a group of juvenile Chinook salmon will be held in underwater pens on flooded rice fields, as in years past; a second group will be held in pens floating in an agricultural canal; and a third group will be held in floating pens nearby in the Sacramento River. The experiment began on February 19 and the fish will be released after approximately four weeks.
Born in the gravels of mountain streams, Central Valley salmon migrate to the ocean where they grow for 1-3 years before returning to rivers to spawn. Juvenile fish that are larger and healthier when they enter the ocean have better odds of returning as adults.
“Floodplain habitats are essentially a bug buffet for small fish,” said Jacob Katz, PhD, Central California Director for California Trout. “Our previous results have shown that the food-rich floodplains appear to act as an important pit stop for juvenile fish, where they can fuel up on their downstream journey to the sea.”
Unfortunately for hungry salmon, more than 95 percent of natural floodplain wetlands have been eliminated by the development of the Central Valley for farms and houses. In previous years, this experiment has shown that off-season agricultural fields can provide critical floodplain habitat for endangered fish.
“Fish have little opportunity to reap the benefits of floodplains because they are nearly all cut off from river channels,” said Louise Conrad, PhD, of the California Department of Water Resources. “The Yolo Bypass is one of the last remaining active floodplain areas in the Central Valley. Enhancing the opportunity for salmon to access and use its floodplain areas could make a huge difference for salmon while also helping to recharge groundwater and improve flood safety.”
For four consecutive winters, experiments conducted on rice fields at the Knaggs Ranch property on the Yolo Bypass documented the fastest growth of juvenile Chinook salmon ever recorded in the Central Valley. These results suggest that through better planning and engineering, farm fields that produce agricultural crops in summer could also produce food and habitat for fish and wildlife during winter when crops are not grown.
“At this point, we feel confident that giving native fish access to the food-rich environment of the floodplain will play a critical role in recovering imperiled salmon,” said Carson Jeffres, field and lab director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. “Now we are interested in how food made on the floodplain can benefit the entire river and Delta.”
The experiment suggests that floodplains on farmland can also be thought of as “surrogate wetlands” that can be managed to mimic the Sacramento River system’s natural annual flooding cycle, which native fish species evolved to depend upon. Agricultural run-off water is used to flood the fields for the duration of the experiment. This recycled water fuels the floodplain food web before being flushed back into the Delta ecosystem through agricultural canals, adding to the food supply for all fish living in the system. No new water is used to conduct the experiment.
This natural process of slowing down and spreading out shallow water across the floodplain creates the conditions that lead to an abundant food web. Sunlight falling on water makes algae, algae feeds bugs, and bugs feed native fish and birds. In contrast, very little food to support aquatic life is produced when rivers are narrowly confined between levees.
“California’s water supply for both people and fish will be more secure when our water policy works with natural processes, instead of against them,” noted Dr. Katz. “This work leverages ecology as technology and points us toward efficient and cost effective real-world water solutions that support both fish and farms.”
Members of the media are invited to visit the experiment site at Knaggs Ranch on the Yolo Bypass near Sacramento between now and approximately March 15th, when the fish will be released to continue their journey to the ocean. The site is also open for tours on Wednesday afternoons throughout the course of the experiment. To make arrangements for a media tour, contact Nina Erlich-Williams at email@example.com or by phone 510-336-9566 or 415-577-1153.
Yolo County Men Convicted of Burglary Spree
On Feb. 23, 26-year-old Winters man Louis Scott Campos and 28-year-old Woodland man Love Davis III plead no contest to six residential burglaries, which are strikes, and two additional felonies, vehicle theft and burglary of a trailer. The defendants also admitted enhancements alleging that at three residences the victims were inside their homes during the burglaries, according to a press release from District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office.
The burglaries were all committed between Dec. 23, 2014, and Jan. 17, 2015, in the cities of Winters, Woodland and in rural Yolo County. The spree began after the first victim, Campos’ neighbor, asked him to watch their house while they were on vacation. They broke into many homes, garages and out buildings stealing a variety of possessions including vehicles, ATVs, trailers, electronics, and other valuables, according to the release.
These crimes were particularly brazen and heinous as the thieves broke into homes in broad daylight and, on three occasions, the residents were home at the time of the break in. The spree came to an end when the Yolo County Sheriff deputes apprehended Campos and Davis shortly after their attempt to get away by driving through muddy farmland on stolen ATVs.
District Attorney Jeff Reisig emphasized the importance of prison sentences in these cases. “Residential burglaries are among some of the most serious and offensive crimes our office prosecutes. Yolo County residents deserve to feel safe in their homes and residential burglaries deprive them of that right.” The prosecuting attorney, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer McHugh commended the diligent investigation completed by the Yolo County Sheriff’s Department. “The Deputies went above and beyond in piecing together this crime spree which allowed us to obtain justice for the victims.”
On March 21, 2016, Judge Steven Mock will sentence the defendants to eight years and eight months in State Prison. At that hearing the victims will have an opportunity to address the court and the defendants about the impact the crimes have had on their lives.
Source: District Attorney Jeff Reisig’s office
Mark your calendars: West Sac art show and reception set for March 3
The West Sacramento Art Guild will be displaying a wonderful collection of their varied talents at the Gallery 1075 located at 1075 West Capitol Ave. During the entire of March, a show will be held within the gallery and on Thursday, March 3 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. a reception will be held. The show provides an opportunity for the public to meet the artists on a personal basis and for folks to ask questions.
Everyone is welcome and anyone interested in joining the guild will be given information by attending. Do make this a date on your calendar to come and enjoy beautiful art, completed by award winning local artists. For more information, call JoJo Gillies at 371-3165.
West Sacramento Waterfront Stories
By Thomas Farley
West Sacramento’s waterfront has stories behind every tule, wharf, and wetland. Here’s a few partial sketches about three different properties. Together, these accounts and anecdotes form a larger tale far from finished.
Seaway is a mostly rectangular shaped land directly south of the port. Some 200 acres, it stretches from the port’s border on the west to the Palmadessi Bridge on the east. Despite its name, this is actually lakefront property. How’s that?
When you look at the port’s turning basin, its widest part, you are looking at Lake Washington. This old and isolated lake of the Central Valley is now a Frankenstein lake, its depths and contours dredged and altered to make room for the port. To boggle your mind even further, you’ve probably driven over Lake Washington without even knowing it.
As you travel across the Seaway acreage on Southport Parkway, you pass over the vestigial remains of the lake. See the photo. Ever notice those “Wildlife Crossing” signs on parkway? This area is part of Lake Washington, a finger that extends almost to the Pheasant Club at the intersection of Lake Washington and Jefferson boulevards. A true wetland when flooded, all parts make for good birding and wandering.
The Stone Lock District was named for William G. Stone, “The Father of the Port.” It extends from the Palmadessi Bridge on the west to the Sacramento River on the east. Its distinctive features are the Barge Canal, the navigation lock, and its accompanying control tower. A civil engineering rarity in California, the lock is one of only three others in our state. Why is there a lock at all?
Sacramento River water can be 20 feet higher than the port. The lock’s gates keep the river from flooding the property and from depositing silt. Boats traveling between the river and the port used the lock to lift or lower craft to the proper level. Decreasing boat traffic and high operating costs doomed the lock and it was decommissioned in 2000.
The Mike McGowan Bridge is a new addition to the district. Its roadway connects two parts of South River Road at a “T” intersection. Soon, Village Parkway will join that intersection. Note the dashed line in the photograph. This extension of Village Parkway through the Honda Hills will provide an alternative to Jefferson Boulevard and a corridor to Raley Field and The Bridge District.
A few years ago, the Cordish Companies proposed ambitious plans for the Stone Lock District but negotiations fell through. The architectural renderings are still online and show a tree-lined waterfront community bustling with pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Shops and recreation were depicted, with the Sacramento River and the canal providing a cool and scenic background. It’s the kind of marina village that the city still hopes for, and the kind of community most people would also like in another waterfront area, The Pioneer Bluffs.
The Pioneer Bluffs starts at the Barge Canal and runs north to Highway 50 where the Bridge District begins. South River Road bisects the area. Jefferson Boulevard marks the bluff’s west boundary but redevelopment will probably come first on its eastern side along the Sacramento River. Removing the CEMEX concrete silos was a vital step in repurposing this riverfront. What’s next? Perhaps a decade long process of relocating the tank farms, filling stations, and maintenance yards that line South River Road.
The stories of West Sacramento and its waterfront are still being written. In time, they should make quite a book.