The Sonoma County Water Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release 2,000 juvenile coho salmon into the Dry Creek fish habitat restoration areas today.
The release, which falls in areas downstream from Warm Springs Dam near Lake Sonoma, northwest of Healdsburg, marks the first release of coho into the restoration sites, beginning a period of study during which the water agency, USACE and their partners can monitor the fish and gauge the effectiveness of the habitat restoration.
“There are so few fish left in the wild, we – the group involved in the restoration – decided that we must do something,” said Mike Dillabough, San Francisco Division USACE chief of Operations and Readiness Division, citing the sharp decline of the coho in the 1990s.
The last remaining species of California Central Coast coho salmon are in the hatchery at Warm Springs, Dillabough said. “We want to make sure the habitat is working, so (the hatchery isn’t) the only reason the species is alive. We want nature to take over.”
“We are making the textbook on how to bring back a species from extinction,” Dillabough said, adding the group is developing a science as it goes with close monitoring and planning as the project evolves.