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CHICO, Calif. - The Big Chico Creek Chinook Salmon Spring-Run is just wrapping up at One Mile Recreation Area.
There is a fish ladder at the bridge at One Mile Recreation Area, which helps the endangered salmon make the run through Sycamore Pool.
The Spring-Run Chinook Salmon have been moving up Big Chico Creek, according to Michael Hellmair, a local fish biologist.
"They started showing up a little over a week ago and they're making their way through downtown and Lower Bidwell Park and upstream to the coldest and deepest water they can find to spend the summer before they spawn their eggs and fall," he said.
The species is endangered, which has led to fewer numbers making the run through Big Chico Creek in recent years.
"There haven't been any returns in appreciable numbers to Big Chico Creek in the last few years, since about 2011, which is an indication that Big Chico Creek is a dependent population, these fish were actually born in a different stream," Hellmair said.
The fish have been coming through the fish ladder and into Sycamore Pool for the past 10 days.
"It's important to know that these fish live off of their energy reserves," he said. "So all of the food that they ate out in the ocean, they stored up as fat and that's what they have to live off of until they lay their eggs in early Fall."
Hellmair captured photo and video of some of the salmon population making its way through Lower Bidwell Park.
The city of Chico allowed the lowering of the dam so that it would make it easier for the fish to use the ladder into Sycamore Pool, he said.
"Like I said, they have to live off of their energy reserves in the Summer," Hellmair said. "Every calorie counts."
The Camp Fire did affect the Butte Creek Watershed, which is home to the largest spring run salmon population in the Central Valley.
However, Hellmair said biologists will not know for another three years whether there is an impact on the fish due to the Camp Fire.
"It's difficult to tell right now what the impacts are simply because we won't really know for another three years until that generation that was affected comes back so we can find out what those numbers were," he said.
Hellmair is optimistic in saying that the fish population may be OK because the vegetation in that area of the watershed appears to be intact.
"There may be some runoff of ash and debris, but hopefully it didn't have too big of an impact, but we won't know for sure for another three years," he said.
To learn more about the Chinook Salmon population on the west coast, CLICK HERE.
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