On May 23, 2023, the Karuk Tribe of California, Environmental Law Foundation, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources submitted to the State Water Board a Petition for Rulemaking to Set Minimum Flows on the Scott River. The Water Board has set a hearing on the matter for August 15, 2023, and written comments are due by noon on July 20, 2023. Please take a moment to submit comments in support of this petition to protect the Scott River and endangered salmon fisheries.
The Scott River is located near Fort Jones in Siskiyou County, and more than half of the land in the watershed is used for grazing and crops. In most summer months the Scott River goes dry due to intensive water use by agricultural operations.
The Scott River provides important habitat for endangered salmon fisheries, and was remains a stronghold for both Chinook as well as ESA listed coho and; however, now most of the premier spawning ground dries up and remains inaccessible during Chinook migration and is often de-watered during juvenile salmonid out-migration. As one of the last North Coast rivers without a major dam, and sporting miles of ideal salmon habitat, it could produce vast numbers of fish. But pollution and over-pumping have left the Scott with a fraction of its historic fish populations.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife has determined that a minimum of 62 cubic feet per second (cfs) is necessary for salmonid recovery in September flows. However, flows have only exceeded 33 cfs once in the last ten years.
In light of worsening drought conditions, in June 2021, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife submitted a letter to the State Water Board that requested that the State Board adopt drought emergency flows for the Scott and Shasta Rivers. The State Board adopted the emergency regulations in 2021, and readopted them in 2022, but the current emergency regulation expires on August 1, 2023, thus the need for a permanent rule making. After receiving the petition, the State Water Board had the option to deny the petition or set a public hearing, and it has opted to schedule a public hearing, which is a step in the right direction for the petition process.
We need your help to speak up for the Scott River and endangered salmon by asking the Water Board to approve the rulemaking petition and set minimum flows on the Scott River.
If you are able to also make a brief (likely 3 minute) public comment at the Water Board Hearing on July 20, 2023 at 9:30am, please complete the virtual speaker card which should be available here no later than August 4: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/calendar/#08-2023