Kokanee salmon reappearing after North Lake Tahoe stream restoration | SierraSun.com

Kokanee salmon reappearing after North Lake Tahoe stream restoration

Sun staff report

Photo courtesy of Brian Stewart One of the kokanee salmon is spotted last Friday in the creek at Lake Forest.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; A stream restoration project on Lake Tahoeandamp;#8217;s North Shore is reaping environmental benefits as a small fall run of kokanee salmon was spotted in the lower reaches of the creek earlier this month.According to Placer County, the run has gone missing since the 1960s when Lake Forest Meadow was filled and numerous stream channels were diverted into a culvert in anticipation of a construction project that was never built. Restoration work by the Placer County Department of Public Works Tahoe Engineering Division began in 2009. The project reconstructed the historic stream channel close to how it existed prior to modification in the 1960s.Additionally, the meadow was changed back to its historic contours. In all, 35 acres were restored, which required moving 21,000 yards of soil. To restore the natural grade of the area, 3,000 yards of that soil were actually trucked out of the Tahoe Basin.The projectandamp;#8217;s benefits, according to the county, include improved water quality; soil erosion control, native harvesting and planting; erosion control seeding, improved riparian habitat, enhancement of scenic resources; irrigation, wildlife and fisheries habitat enhancement; and increased public access and interpretive opportunities. andamp;#8220;This is wonderful news for everyone who lives in or visits Lake Tahoe,andamp;#8221; said Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, whose 5th District includes a large portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin. andamp;#8220;The Department of Public Works, in cooperation with many other entities, has succeeded in correcting environmental damage in the Basin. This restoration has brought back not only the natural beauty of this stream environment zone, but has also brought back the kokanee salmon. They are there again, after being gone for decades, using the stream channel for spawning.andamp;#8221; Kokanee salmon are actually not a native fish species to Lake Tahoe. Their introduction likely occurred in the 1920s when an overflow of troughs in the Tahoe City fish hatchery allowed kokanee fry to escape into the lake.The fish established themselves, despite the belief that they wouldnandamp;#8217;t survive in the alpine environment.The salmon have thrived in Lake Tahoe and do not prey on the lakeandamp;#8217;s native fish.