Monday, May 22, 2017

Fish smaller than your little finger - and as big as Earth

                                        

Trout found in Napa stream - again - where developers said there were none. All could grow up into steelhead and their presence should majorly impact further vineyard development.
                                     
Ms. Helge Eng, Deputy Director
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
135 Ridgeway Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95401

Re: Additional Information for the Le Colline Vineyard Project (THP/THC 1-16-079-NAP) File

Dear Ms. Eng,

On Monday, May 15 I did reconnaissance of three reaches of Conn Creek: above and below the Fire House, further downstream within the town of Angwin, and on the Linda Falls Preserve. The purpose of the visit was to substantiate the presence of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the reach above Linda Falls in the vicinity of the proposed Le Colline Vineyard (THP/THC 1-16-079-NAP) project. As noted in my comments of September 30, 2016, the project has the potential to adversely affect rainbow trout, which are a key indicator species for meeting coldwater beneficial use under the Clean Water Act.

Video evidence posted at Dropbox are of the yearling (100 mm) rainbow trout feeding with two 50 mm trout adjacent (https://www.dropbox.com/home?preview=Conn_Fat_4_in_RBT.mp4).  A second video of a rainbow trout of more typical size range is also posted to Dropbox at:

Although no rainbow trout were seen within the Linda Falls Preserve, adjacent to the proposed Le Colline vineyard project, the presence of the species in the reach upstream in Angwin means that they would be present there.  High flows often displace native trout to downstream locations and it follows logically that some fish from the Angwin reach were displaced by the high flows of the past winter and would have been distributed downstream past the proposed project and possibly as far downstream as Lake Hennessey.

 In fact rainbow trout from the Angwin reach could also pass downstream over the dam that forms the lake and then manifest an anadromous life history and return as steelhead. The Napa River steelhead population has been documented to be at an extremely low level, and recruitment from the native trout population could be an important mechanism for maintaining recruitment and genetic diversity. Therefore, the proposed project should be considered for its harm to Endangered Species Act listed Napa River steelhead trout by the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me.

Sincerely,

Patrick Higgins
Consulting Fisheries Biologist
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