After one of the driest years in recent memory, the heavy rains that flooded California in late 2021 were welcomed by farmers, urban planners, and a much-awaited guest — the endangered coho salmon.
“We’ve seen fish in places that they haven’t been for almost 25 years,” said Preston Brown, the director of watershed conservation for the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (Spawn). According to the National Weather Service, California recorded more precipitation from October to December than during the same period of the previous year.
The profuse precipitation was well-timed with the November-to-January spawning season in the resource-rich Tomales Bay watershed north of San Francisco, allowing some fish to reach tributaries to the Lagunitas Creek, at least 13 miles inland in Marin County, reports The Guardian.
According to experts, California would need several wet years to combat its 20-year drought, which has complicated efforts by water officials to supply farms and fast-urbanizing cities.
With that said, last year’s abundant precipitation is still a blessing for the endangered fish, which are now laying eggs in nests where babies will soon hatch and spend most of their young lives. Once they reach maturity, the fish will swim to the ocean and eventually return back to the same area to spawn.
“They like these really tiny small streams, and that’s where their survival is the highest,” said Todd Steiner, executive director of Turtle Island Restoration Network, the parent group to Spawn. “If we give the fish a fighting chance at survival, they will come back.”