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‘Fish could be abundant’ in the Auburn Ravine

SARSAS working to ease the trip for salmon, steelhead
By: Stephanie Dumm gold country news service
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Salmon and steelhead could one day be plentiful in the Auburn Ravine if one local nonprofit organization is successful. Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead — or SARSAS — led by president Jack Sanchez, has worked since late 2008 toward the goal of returning the fish to the 33-mile-long Auburn Ravine. The organization is made up of an 11-member board, Sanchez said. Auburn Ravine starts in Auburn, flows through Lincoln, and empties into the Sacramento River at Verona, according to Sanchez. SARSAS has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to enforce a regulation that requires flashboard dams to be removed between certain dates. “NOAA regulations say the dams have to be taken out of the Auburn Ravine on Oct. 15 and be kept out until April 15 so the salmon can swim up the Auburn Ravine,” Sanchez explained. “The best spawning areas are above Lincoln, and this year, we got the salmon as far as the Lincoln gaging station.” The salmon aren’t able to swim up and over the gaging station, which is located at Lincoln’s Auburn Ravine Park, according to Sanchez. Sanchez said the Nevada Irrigation District will install a fish ladder at the gaging station in September or October so the salmon can swim past the station. At the moment, SARSAS is working with farmers and land-owners to help save the salmon and steelhead by installing fish screens on water pumps and canals in the Auburn Ravine. “It’s no cost to the farmer because we have organizations that have the funding,” Sanchez said. “If these landowners do not have screens over their pumps and over their canals, they are in violation of NOAA regulations for fish passage. Many landowners don’t know that so what we are trying to do is help them not be breaking the law.” Since the fish swim backward out to the Sacramento River, Sanchez said, they often get sucked into the pumps and canals. John Rabe, who does marketing for SARSAS, said restoring salmon “is important to more than just the local environment.” “What it basically means is you become a part of the solution for restoring salmon in the Pacific Ocean and, if it’s successful in more than just the Auburn Ravine, stimulate the entire salmon fishing economy in the Pacific Ocean,” Rabe said. “It’s a love of making sure that nature’s creatures are able to thrive and have healthy access to the streams that for tens of thousands of years, they have spawned in.” Reach Stephanie Dumm at stephanied@goldcountrymedia.com. ------------ SARSAS www.sarsas.org. Farmers and landowners can call Jack Sanchez at (530) 888-0281 for information about fish screens.