California’s Department of Fish and Game is capturing fish downstream and driving them upstream to Fresno. Right now, the fish are blocked from swimming up the San Joaquin.
Environmental Program Manager Gerald Hatler says, “There were dams that they couldn’t get past and water temperatures that were much higher and those fish would perish.”
The barrier was built before the San Joaquin River Restoration Program was created in 2006 in result of litigation between environmental groups, farmers and the federal government.
Environmental supporters see the transport of fish upstream as a temporary first step in creating a swimmable route.
National Resources Defense Council scientist Monty Schmitt says, “Find a way to make things work – to balance water for agriculture for cities as well as the environment.”
Meanwhile, others feel reintroducing the salmon is not appropriate given the high demand of river water.
The fish are tagged and tracked to learn if just getting here will be enough.
Hatler says, “Putting them to suitable spawning habitat, will they spawn? Is there enough spawning habitat for salmon?”