Spawning Chinook in Putah Creek

Anadromous fish do not make their way into Cold Creek, but Cold Creek is a tributary to Putah Creek, which does have salmon and steelhead.  Water quality in Cold Creek (including impacts from fire) has a direct impact on water in Putah Creek and on the organisms that rely on Putah Creek.  Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) return to Putah Creek to spawn after spending several years in the ocean, and are dependent on cool, clear water free of contaminants for their survival.

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In November, I watched Chinook salmon traveling up Putah Creek in downtown Winters, just under the old railroad bridge.  I made some sketches onsite:

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And then developed a more detailed depiction of the scene at home:

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Wragg Fire Map (8/5/2015)

The Wragg Fire started just over the ridge to the west of Cold Canyon, rushing quickly over the hill and down into the canyon.  Once there, it remained in the canyon, generating winds that caused it to cycle within the canyon, according to Jeffrey Clary, Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve Manager.  This greatly increased the intensity of burning in the canyon.  The differences in fire intensity across the landscape burned will lead to interesting opportunities to compare rates and types of regrowth in the coming years.

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