Fish plants to cease on local waters
In October of 2006, Pacific Rivers Council and Center for Biological Diversity sued the Department of Fish and Game over fish stocking programs it has engaged in, claiming that no Environmental Impact Report (EIR) had ever been completed for the trout planting programs.
The result of the case was a Nov. 2 court order requiring the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) to complete an EIR and a temporary halt to stocking in some California lakes, reservoirs and streams.
The DFG is currently engaged in the EIR process, which is scheduled to be completed in January 2010. The terms of the original ruling by Nov. 6 halted stocking on all lakes, reservoirs and streams that had been receiving such allocations. This essentially would have shut down all DFG stocking until the EIR was completed and the results analyzed.
When the judge made the ruling, he suggested that both parties in the litigation get together to reach a tentative agreement that would permit some stocking. On Nov. 21 Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette signed an order that would allow the DFG to stock more waters than would have been allowed under his Nov. 6 tentative ruling.
According to DFG Director Donald Koch in a recent press release, “DFG fought hard in the negotiations to save its fish stocking programs. We are pleased that the order allows us to continue stocking in a number of areas where the communities depend on fishing.”
What does this ban on stocking mean to us locally?
According to the listing on the DFG Web site, the following local lakes and reservoirs will no longer be stocked for a minimum of time between Nov. 24 and Jan. 1, 2010: Boca, Donner, Martis Creek and Prosser. The streams include the Little Truckee on 89 and the Truckee River. It will probably be longer because it is dependent on the results of the EIR and its recommendations.
Stampede Reservoir appears to be the only local reservoir that escaped the stocking prohibition, which only affects the stocking of non-native fish. These include the brook, rainbow and brown trout, which are the most popular fish planted in the roadside waters mentioned above.
Native species are not addressed in this order. This means that native fish can still be introduced into their native waters.
There are some exceptions to the prohibition regarding stocking non-native fish, including the following:
– Stocking in human-made reservoirs larger than 1,000 acres.
– Stocking in human-made reservoirs less than 1,000 acres that are not connected to a river or stream, or without red-legged-frog-critical habitat, or where red-legged frogs are known to exist.
– Stocking as required as a state or federal mitigation.
– Stocking for the purpose of enhancing salmon and steelhead populations and funded by the Commercial Trollers Salmon Stamp.
– Stocking of steelhead from the Mad River Hatchery into the Mad River Basin.
– DFG’s Aquarium in the Classroom program.
– Stocking actions to support scientific research.
– Stocking done pursuant to an existing private stocking permit or to be done under a new permit with the terms similar to one that was issued in the last four years.
The loss of the stocks will undoubtedly have a great impact on our local waters.
Many people come and vacation in our region and enjoy fishing as part of their camping experience on our local waters. The impact to our local economy could be significant.
For a complete list of waters affected by the ban, go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/stocking/. I believe this is the updated list after negotiations between both parties.
Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.