By Don Ford

PESCADERO (KPIX 5) – There really hasn’t been many salmon in Pescadero Creek north of Santa Cruz for years. On Tuesday, that changed.

Thousands of baby Coho Salmon arrived by four wheel drive truck, where a small army of folks released them into the creek.

This project has been in the works for years. Ranchers, farmers and all manner of public agencies finally got on the same page and major portions of the creek are now restored. Once released, the baby salmon quickly swam for hiding places, diving into protected hiding spots.

Baby Coho salmon being introduced into Pescadero Creek in San Mateo County, November 17, 2020. (CBS)

Baby Coho salmon being introduced into Pescadero Creek in San Mateo County, November 17, 2020. (CBS)

NOAA Fisheries Research Ecologist, Joe Kiernan explained what happens next.

“They will spend this winter in the creek. They’ll go out to the ocean next spring,” Kiernan told KPIX 5. “They’ll spend about a year and a half out there and then hopefully they’ll return back to Pescadero.”

Ten thousand baby Coho, released in different spots. The fingerlings supplied by the Monterey Salmon and Trout Project, with NOAA supervision and sponsored by the San Mateo Resource Conservation District (SMRCD).

Kelly Nelson, executive director of the SMRCD, said the work on the creek was extensive

“We removed a dam and did other things to ensure that fish had access to an additional 62 miles of habitat,” Nelson said. “It’s a lot of creek.”

However, scientist here estimate that of the 10,000 baby salmon released today, just 2%, or only 200 may survive and return to spawn.

“Lots of assaults to these fish. Whether it be from timber harvest, or water withdrawal or natural things like fire, you know, these watersheds have been through a lot,” Kiernan said.

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