Annual Report for 2016

Salmon use bridges if people build the right kind!

As published in the Lincoln News Messenger January 9, 2017

New group works to balance needs of humans and wildlife.

In early 2016, a new all-volunteer organization formed in western Placer and Sutter Counties to focus on improving the health of our local watersheds.  Using the concepts of reconciliation ecology, Friends of Auburn Ravine seeks to maintain and improve the diversity of wildlife in such a way that human uses of the landscape can continue and sustainable solutions can be developed for the benefit of all.

Here in western Placer and Sutter counties, our landscape has been modified extensively to support the needs of people. Those modifications provide many benefits including delivery of water for food production, easier transportation and communication, reduced flood risk, better water quality, improved property values, more recreational opportunities, and reduced fire danger.  And we are still blessed with a wonderful diversity of plants and animals living around us in the wetlands of the valley, the woodlands of the foothills, and the streams that flow through them.  We should not take either for granted.  Not the wildlife all around us, nor the modifications made for people.  The canals that deliver water to our farms, and the levees that hold back floods are not cheap to build or maintain.  And wildlife, including deer, turkeys, otters, wood ducks, salmon, and bobcats will not survive if ill-planned human activity blocks their migration paths, or damages their feeding and nesting areas.

The Board of Directors of Friends of Auburn Ravine believes that there are opportunities for win-win solutions that can help both people and wildlife.  The Directors are Brad Cavallo, Gary Flanagan, James Haufler, Steve Hubbard, and Heath Wakelee.  For more info on Friends of Auburn Ravine and their Board members, please visit their web site (, and follow Friends of Auburn Ravine on Facebook.

During 2016, the Board, along with many volunteers, has been engaged in multiple projects with the public, property owners, and government agencies. Among these are:

  • Analyzing water diversions for practical, cost-effective modifications to increase the efficiency of water delivery to agriculture and improve salmon migration.
  • Identifying flood plain reconnection opportunities to reduce flood risk and increase rainy-season habitat for juvenile salmon and other wildlife.
  • Installation of a video system to count salmon and steelhead as they migrate up Auburn Ravine to provide a scientific basis for habitat improvement proposals.
  • Supporting a project to replace a diversion with a new system that will allow continued water deliveries and unimpeded passage for salmon and steelhead.
  • Surveying the extent of salmon and steelhead migration so habitat improvement resources can be focused on cost-effective projects.
  • Planning a DNA study of salmon to establish a baseline from which to measure the benefits of future habitat improvement projects.
  • Planning a PIT tag study of trout and steelhead to understand their local distribution and lifecycle.

Chinook salmon captured on underwater camera as it migrates up though Lincoln, CA in Auburn Ravine in November 2016.

As you can imagine, all these projects require input, agreement, and coordination with many people from different walks of life.  Permits are often needed.  Funding is usually scarce.  And bruises from previous efforts may not have yet healed.  So the main role that Friends of Auburn Ravine tries to play is building bridges – bridges between people.  Bridges of understanding.  Bridges of consensus.  They are confident that by building those bridges, both people and wildlife will benefit.

The Directors and volunteers would like to thank the many organizations that are helping to build those bridges:

(Listed in alphabetical order)

California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Water Resources, California Fly Fishers Unlimited, City of Lincoln, Cramer Fish Sciences, Dry Creek Conservancy, Gold County Images, Nevada Irrigation District, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Placer County Board of Supervisors, Placer County Fish and Game Commission, Raley’s, Reclamation District 1000, Reclamation District 1001, Richland Communities, South Sutter Water District, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Stantec, Tech Soup, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Wildland’s Inc.

Submitted by James Haufler for Friends of Auburn Ravine.