OCCIDENTAL (CBS SF) — The Camp Meeker Recreation and Park District near Occidental in western Sonoma County is releasing untreated water from its treatment facility into a tributary of the Russian River to protect the summer rearing of coho salmon and steelhead.

The water is being released into Upper Dutch Bill Creek to protect the fish from low stream flows. It’s the first voluntary water release into Upper Dutch Bill Creek but the third such release among four creeks that include Green Valley, Mark West and Mill that also are Russian River tributaries.

Since the releases began in August, Dutch Bill Creek is flowing better than it has in the past two months, and dissolved oxygen and temperature conditions are expected to keep juvenile coho salmon and steelhead alive until rain arrives this winter, the Camp Meeker district said.

The effort to address drought-related stream flow concerns is part of the Voluntary Drought Initiative program involving the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and National Marine Fisheries Service.

In March, rural landowners were asked to sign agreements to voluntarily reduce water demand in the four creeks’ critical watersheds, and 40 landowners are now participating.

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