Smith River, California© Ken Morrish
Where We Work

California

Where We Work

California

Building back Golden State salmon

There is little question that California salmon and steelhead are in trouble. A recent study concluded that if fish population trends continue, 25 of the 32 distinct salmon, steelhead, and trout groups native to the Golden State may be extinct within the next century. But there is hope for California salmon and steelhead in select watersheds throughout the state, which still boast healthy wild salmon populations.

A statewide stronghold strategy

Since 2010, Wild Salmon Center has been working with public and private partners in California to identify the state’s best wild salmon rivers — salmon strongholds — and to support proactive, science-based efforts to protect them. The state of California has formally recognized strongholds throughout the state, including the Smith; Salmon/Mid Klamath; Mattole; South Fork Eel; Mill, Deer, and Butte Creeks (in the middle Sacramento); Big Sur; and Santa Clara river systems. Together, these watersheds represent less than 5% of the state’s land area, but contain roughly 70% of its remaining salmon and steelhead diversity.

Because of California’s combined challenges of water shortage and growing population, maintaining adequate flows of cold clean water in salmon strongholds is a key goal for our California work. We are working with our partners and the state to develop scientifically determined flow standards for California strongholds.

© Tom and Pat Leeson
25 of 32 California native salmon and trout population groups may go extinct in 100 years if we don't act now
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