Helping Salmon in the Tuolumne River Without Increasing water Flows
Michael Franz owns Franz wholesale ornamental nursery with his brother in the Stanislaus County town of Hickman. He also serves as board member of the Turlock Irrigation District, which delivers water to thousands of acres of almonds and walnuts.
He says there's better ways to take care of the salmon without increasing water flows.
“We think that we can do restoration in our channels and repair the damage that was done by both the gold mining and the gravel dredging over the last 150 years, and the dredging, have dug huge big pools in our rivers where these aggressive predator fish hangout,” Franz explained. “And when our baby salmon smolts go swimming by headed out to sea, they're quickly consumed instead of making safe passage out to the Golden Gate Bridge.”
Increasing water flows are not needed, Franz noted. “The State Water Board want to turn more flow down the river and that'll help push the salmon out,” Franz said. “And in some ways it's true, but it's an extremely wasteful way of going about it.”
“Instead of solving the problem, which is the presence of the predator bass, they want to just dilute the problem by trying to flush them out to sea in a very wasteful manner. This is a dry, arid state, and we can't afford to waste water,” he said. “Our entire community's livelihood is staked around continuing to use the water as it has historically been used. Eight out of 10 of our largest employers in Stanislaus County are ag-based.”