NoCal Habitat Crews Honored


Mar 11, 2001
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SACRAMENTO--Their efforts have spared millions upon millions of salmon and steelhead from early deaths over the past 50 years. Tuesday, on behalf of the fish and of the Californians who value them, the recognition came.

In a Sacramento ceremony, the American Fisheries Society’s national 2001 “Outstanding Sport Fish Restoration Project of the Year” award was given to the north state’s current group of Department of Fish and Game habitat specialists whose work protects and enhances all varieties of north state fish populations, especially those of the anadromous world.

The annual award is directed toward programs or projects that are funded under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, a 1984 amended version of the original 1950 program. The act distributes taxes collected on fishing tackle, motorboat fuel and other sporting items to states for use in fisheries enhancement.

Ten of the 13 habitat experts from the DFG’s Region 1 operations were on hand for Tuesday’s ceremony. Robert Hight, DFG director, made the presentation.

Fish and Game said the north state habitat project won the award in competition against Sport Fish Restoration entries from nearly every one of the 50 states.

“These crews work very hard every day to overcome broken links in the life cycles of salmon and steelhead,” said Phil Warner, DFG senior fish habitat supervisor who oversees the diverse sets of projects handled by the 13 habitat specialists.

The 13 habitat experts work in Red Bluff, Yreka, Lewiston and Eureka. Red Bluff and Yreka are the sites of two fully-equipped fish habitat shops, known in DFG vernacular as “screen shops” because of the extensive amount of time spent annually managing mechanized screens that prevent juvenile salmon, steelhead and trout from riding diverted stream water into irrigated farm fields.

But, operation of the 108 large and small fish screens--13 in Tehama, 68 in Siskiyou, 22 in Trinity, two in Shasta and three in Modoc counties--accounts for only part of the diverse set of assignments the habitat crews undertake each year, Warner said.

Equipped with knowledge of fish and with skills in fish rescue, welding, explosives, metal fabrication, concrete and heavy equipment operation, the screen shop habitat specialists carry out work that ranges from fish ladder construction and rock barrier removal to stream course fencing, spawning gravel distribution and tree plantings.

“Behind the scenes, these DFG personnel are at work year around for the good of California’s highly prized fisheries,” said Warner.

“The AFS award recognizes these efforts, past and present.”

Current screen shop personnel in Red Bluff include Cal Crawford, Cliff Akers, Del Milligan, Gary Devine and Tony Robles. In Yreka, the crew comprises Ron Dotson, Rich Davis, Dan Byrd, Wade Ravencroft, Jody Rightmier and Shawn Smith. John Schwabe is assigned to Eureka and Jim Thompson works from Lewiston.

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