For generations, members of the Yurok tribe have fished for salmon in the Klamath River in the northwestern corner of California. "Salmon is essential to Yurok ceremonies, for food and for income," says Lisa Morehouse in a story for The California Report that was produced in partnership with FERN. "But this fall, the number of chinook salmon swimming up the Klamath was the lowest on record, threatening the tribe's entire culture and way of life."
California’s coastal ecosystem is in the midst of a massive “disruption” because of climate change, says the San Francisco Chronicle. For example, warmer waters have stalled the growth of kelp forests, causing sea urchins, which depend on kelp as their main food source, to mature abnormally. Their spiky shells are nearly hollow, and North Coast divers have brought in only one-tenth of their normally lucrative catch.
In an about-face, federal officials will not be cutting farm water supplies from Shasta Dam, California's largest, after all, reports The Sacramento Bee. Federal fisheries officials have been in tense conversation over the last month with state and federal water regulators over how much of Shasta’s water to hold back in order to protect the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had seemed set to seriously limit water deliveries to Central Valley farmers.
In California, federal fisheries regulators are mulling two new plans to save the state’s endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and Delta smelt—plans that could mean serious water shortages for farmers. While this year saw ample rain and snowfall in the northern half of the state, regulators warn that the precipitation wasn’t enough to make up for several years of historic drought.