Record rains in December attract spawning salmon to Marin County streams – CBS San Francisco

LAGUNITAS – What a difference six months can make. By July, Marin County’s streams were nearly dry and now there is so much water flowing through them that salmon spawn like no one has seen in decades.

It’s a testament to nature’s unpredictability that after the second driest summer in state history, salmon should have ideal spawning conditions.

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“I know, this is the most exciting thing ever! Said Andrea Dorn of El Cerrito. She was part of a group participating in a SPAWN CreekWalk Saturday afternoon tour at Samuel P. Taylor State Park. For the first time in his life, Dorn got to see these fish do what nature intended, as a female made a nest in the gravel as three males scrambled to position themselves nearby.

“I’ve never seen it and wanted to witness it for a long time so it’s a total pleasure to be able to see it… in action! Dorn exclaimed.

Salmon watchers have been worried about what this spawning season might bring, given the depressing intensity of the drought. Todd Steiner, executive director of the Turtle Island Restoration Network, said so much water is flowing at exactly the right time that it creates the perfect set of conditions for fish to breed.

“We are seeing fish in places where we haven’t seen them for 25 or 30 years and in some places higher up in the watershed than we have ever seen them before,” he said.

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SPAWN Conservation Director Preston Brown painted a grim scenario for salmon last summer but said the remarkable recovery in creeks at least brought the population back to normal levels recently.

“Before, there were five thousand who came up this stream,” he says. “It’s always good that we get to celebrate maybe 500, 600 fish, but every time we get at least that, we’re on the road to recovery.”

Watching the spawn was a first for Callie Muir, 10, and she said it helped to be with a group who could explain what was going on.

“It’s so many facts that I can go home and tell my dad,” she said. “So many facts.”

It is a cruel fact of nature that fish will all die after spawning is finished. But the fact that they were able to complete nature’s cycle means that their life goal has been met, and the thousands of their descendants will start the process all over again – as long as there is water to bring them home. .

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The Turtle Island Restoration Network, which sponsors the SPAWN program, says there are still openings to join a CreekWalk Tour but the season only lasts until the end of January. For more information or to reserve a spot, visit http://seaturtles.org/witness-greatness-on-a-creekwalk-tour

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