Warm Springs Dam was completed in 1983 to control flooding and provide drinking water for Sonoma County, CA. It backs up miles of Dry Creek in the Russian River watershed. Salmon and steelhead in the Russian suffer from a plethora of problems, including the current drought. Its coho are particularly imperiled, and up whole California coast most stocks are listed as endangered under the ESA.
Dry Creek coho, however, are managing remarkably better, thanks in part to Warm Springs Dam. Though the dam ruined miles of spawning habitat it’s now providing reliable, cold, year-round flows downstream. Dry Creek traditionally lived up to its name in the summer, but now, with much of the rest of the Russian watershed degraded, the creek is proving a haven for coho.
The run is receiving a boost from a broodstock program designed to maximize genetic diversity. David Manning works for Sonoma County Water Agency and says, “The resulting hybrids have been producing really healthy offspring. Carlos (Garza, NMFS geneticist) has been developing a spawning matrix, and he jiggles the brood stock recipe each year to maximize genetic diversity.” Habitat mitigation is a priority as well. Large woody debris, boulder gardens and side channels have been constructed to improve livability for juvenile coho.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.