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Auburn a salmon haven? It's retired teacher Jack Sanchez' dream

Ex-Del Oro English teacher at forefront of Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Jack Sanchez calls salmon the earth’s canary in a coal mine. If the salmon disappear, Sanchez said he strongly believes that the human race will disappear along with them. And Sanchez works to help bring the fish back to a stream that flows through Auburn and links the city with the Pacific Ocean. The founder of Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead group is a strong advocate for bringing spawning salmon back from the ocean and upstream to the city. The non-profit organization’s ultimate goal is to have spawning salmon traveling every fall for people to view at the Auburn School Park Preserve on the edge of Downtown Auburn. “When they go, we go,” Sanchez said. “They’re the most miraculous creature on the earth in terms of their resiliency and ability to survive.” Born and raised in Ophir, Sanchez has spent most of his life in the Auburn area. He taught English at Del Oro High School from 1964 to 2001 and founded the salmon preservation group to work with water providers, government officials and the general public on forging a plan to bring the fish back. Scott Johnson, Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead activities director, said that Sanchez’ roots in the community go a long way in helping the group cultivate supporters. “The thing that jumps out at you right away is that he’s been active in our community for so long,” Johnson said. “A lot of people who work in local government have connections with him, either directly or through relatives.” Sanchez, 70, is optimistic about the eventual success of the group’s work, citing efforts to provide paths past dams along the ravine between Lincoln and Auburn. One of the future keys will be installing a fish ladder at the Gold Hill Diversion dam and Wise Road powerhouse. After that the riverbed would have to reconstructed to move salmon farther upstream. Lincoln is already feeling the excitement of a spawning run. Sanchez said there is anecdotal evidence by two fishermen that salmon had moved upstream past Lincoln last year. A salmon festival is planned for next year, including a Native American ceremony to call the salmon back. In the meantime, the Auburn-based salmon organization meets monthly to move Auburn Ravine salmon spawning plans forward. Until the spawning salmon return, Sanchez has faith that the day will come. “Salmon have so few places to go,” Sanchez said. “My belief I that if you open the waterways and fish passages the fish are going to come.” ---------------------------- Jack Sanchez Fast Facts - Favorite movie: “Casablanca” - Favorite authors: Albert Camus, William Faulkner - Highest mountain climbed: Mt. Kilimanjaro - Marathon ran: Avenue of the Giants Marathon - Students taught at Del Oro High School include: Sheriff Ed Bonner, chief assistant county executive officer Rich Colwell, county Facility Services Director Jim Durfee, district attorney’s office prosecutors Suzanne Gazzaniga and Tom Beattie, and defense attorney Thomas Leupp. - Sanchez is a 1957 Placer High School graduate - Earned degrees in English, German and philosophy from California State University, Sacramento - Taught English at Del Oro High School for nearly four decades - Married to Valerie, who is also a retired Del Oro English teacher. He has two adult sons from a previous marriage