Spring Hill Elementary School project

Laura Spain projectHere is the end of year student project used for Open House!  Kids make ceramic trout with all appropriate anatomy, lateral line, etc.    Then make a river habitat inside their cubbies for their trout to be displayed in for Open House!!  They have to write facts to go inside as well.

Super fun!



Laura Spain = Teacher supreme

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Surveys and Studies Show Alameda Creek Trout Are Still Migratory

trout in handThe San Francisco Public Utility Commission (SFPUC) has been surveying Alameda Creek’s native rainbow trout populations below the major dams for several years, to track population sizes and determine if resident rainbow trout are smolting. A smolt is a young trout after the parr stage, when it becomes silvery and migrates to the sea for the first time.

The SFPUC has been operating a screw trap and a fyke net trap in upper Alameda creek to sample native fish, and although only a handful of trout have been caught this year, some of them appear to be smolting. A smolt caught in 2015 in the upper Sunol Valley was definitely headed to the Bay to become a steelhead. The SFPUC surveys are confirming suspicions that our resident trout populations below the dam still have some migratory component that can smolt, go to the ocean, and return as adult steelhead.

Check out more photos and videos of the Alameda Creek trout surveys on the Alameda Creek Alliance Facebook page.

A recent report by the Institute of Marine Sciences and Southwest Fisheries Science Center has documented that Alameda Creek’s landlocked rainbow trout above the major dams, in Calaveras Reservoir and San Antonio Reservoir, still have a strong genetic marker for migratory behavior. The report, Ancestry and Adaptive Evolution of Anadromous, Resident, and Adfluvial Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss) in the San Francisco Bay Area, looked at resident steelhead/rainbow trout populations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Genetic analysis determined that resident trout in Bay Area streams are more closely related to native coastal steelhead than to Central Valley trout, that there is no evidence of interbreeding with hatchery rainbow trout, and that trout populations above and below dams and other barriers within Bay Area watersheds are each other’s closest relatives.

The study looked at an adaptive genome associated with migratory life-history traits in trout, and found substantial evolutionary differences between trout above and below Bay Area dams. Within the Bay Area, most trout populations above dams had low frequencies of alleles associated with anadromy (migration to and from fresh to salt water). However, in Alameda Creek, trout in Arroyo Hondo and Indian Creek, which flow into the large Calaveras and San Antonio Reservoirs, have retained the genetic variants and migratory behavior associated with anadromy. Alameda Creek reservoir fish had the highest observed frequencies of migratory alleles.

In other words, Alameda Creek trout below the dams still produce steelhead offspring, and trout above the dams still strongly retain the genetic marker for migratory steelhead behavior. Good news for using these trout populations to jump—start a restored steelhead run once the fish ladders are completed in the lower creek.

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Fly Fishing For Kids

The Bay Area Youth fly Fishers (BAYFF)  is a volunteer led collaboration of fly fishing clubs and conservation organizations throughout the Bay Area to teach kids the skills and focus of fly fishing and to introduce them to the science of fish and watershed conservation in a fun and active way. The BAYFF program leverages the successful “Trout in the Classroom” program run by the California Department of Wildlife along with many of BAYFF groups’ volunteers with the intent of the program being to move kids to the next level – beyond the classroom setting into the outdoors.

teaching kids to fly fish

The first BAYFF event will be in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and will open to the public for registration on April 30. Teaching is done by experienced program volunteers – many of whom are experts in their field. This is not a fishing derby. Instruction for the initial event will be at the (fishless) Golden Gate Park casting ponds. The focus will be on building youth participants’ competence and knowledge. The mission of the BAYFF is to enable youth to grow in character and confidence by learning outdoor skills and respect for nature.

  • Where? Golden Gate Angling & Casting Club (1232 John F. Kennedy Dr)
  • What? 4 separate FUN learning sessions
    • Casting
    • Knot tying
    • Fly tying
    • Conservation & Entomology
  • When? Saturday, May 19th, 2018, 9:15am to 3:00pm
  • Who? Ages 8-12, grades 4-7

The event has a small fee for youth participants to cover the BBQ lunch and snacks provided and parents are free. All necessary fly fishing equipment is loaned free for the event as well. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the event.

More information on the program and how to register for this event can be found on the BAYFF website  www.youthflyfishers.org

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Fish Skin Used To Heal Bears Burned in the Recent Southern California Fires

We all know that bears love fish and this article adds a new dimension to that relationship. This contains a heartwarming short video that is appropriate for students.

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Resiliency to Fire

The North Bay wildfires had a major impact on the lands and waters in Sonoma, Napa, and surrounding counties.

Stewardship staff have been actively working with the Resource Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Napa County, CALFIRE and others to address immediate post-fire concerns such as erosion risk and damaged infrastructure.

We hope that the following set of photos provided by the Land Trust of Napa County, taken in the few months following the North Bay fires, help to illustrate some of this natural resiliency and recovery.


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Fish Jokes

Just to make you smile.

laughing child




Men are like fish.  Neither would get in trouble if they kept their mouths shut.


Cook a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to fish and you get rid of him for the whole weekend.


Why don’t fish pass their exams?

Because they work below C-Level.


Where are most fish found?

Between the head and the tail!


Why are fish such intelligent creatures?

Because they swim in schools.


What happens when you put Nutella on salmon?

You get salmonella


Who do fish always know how much they weigh?

Because they have their own scales.


What do you call a fish with a tie?



What did the fish say when he posted bail?

“I’m off the hook!”


What did the steelhead say when it bumped into a concrete wall? 



What’s the best way to catch a fish?

Have someone throw it at you.


source: http://www.jokes4us.com/animaljokes/fishjokes.html

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Little Changes Make Big Impacts: The Power of Choice

By Calvin Abbot of the Watershed Project

After a long day of working outside or maybe just a walk in the park you may swing by a store and buy a plastic water bottle. After drinking it you drop it in a recycling bin, pat yourself on the back and continue on with your life. But what happens to the plastic you just used? Fortunately the bottle is #1 plastic, so it is recycled, but the cap is # 5, which is not recyclable in the US. Out of the 7 kinds of plastic we produce, only #1 and 2 are recycled in this country. This isn’t because the technology for this doesn’t exist, but because the technology used in the US is outdated, mostly build in the 1990’s, and not updated or well cared for since.

plastic bottles 1

Your bottle and cap go to the recycling company, where they get separated. The bottle is most likely crushed into a bale and shipped to China. If not, then it’s shredded and reused at one of the handful of American repurposing plants that make clothes or new packaging out of the plastic fibers. The cap is often sent to landfill, where it is mixed into the sand used to cover the landfill. Laying on top of the landfill with the sand, your cap is now exposed to birds and the elements, and can even make it’s way back into our waterways. So even though you didn’t put that bottle cap in the ocean, it still ended up there.

How can we fix this problem? You can go the way of California Assemblyman Stone, whose bill AB-319 would make it so caps had to be leashed to the bottles. This would make it harder for the caps to be removed from the bottles accidentally, and make it difficult for recycling companies to get rid of the caps. However the caps will still end up as landfill if the type of plastic remains the same, and recycling companies still remain incapable of dealing with this kind of plastic.

plastic bottles 2The harder, but more impactful solution is to just not use plastic water bottles. Over half of all bottled water is just tap water, and 22% of bottled water brands failed the state health and safety standards for water quality of the state they were being sold in. In spite of this, bottled water quality is overseen by the FDA and rarely checked, so the bottled water companies have little incentive to improve the quality. Choosing a reusable bottle is more common than ever, and in most places, a reusable bottle filled with tap water is a cheaper, safer, and incredibly more environmentally friendly than the single use plastic alternative.
People often feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues facing us, and they feel that just them changing their lifestyle won’t be enough. And in some ways they are right, many environmental issues cannot be solved by an individual action. However, in more important ways they are wrong. When I was little I used to love an essay by Loren Eiseley, called The Star Thrower. Although the version I was read was truncated and simplified for kids, it held the same message. And in its simplest form the essay is says this: if you can spend effort to save a single life, isn’t it worth it?

plastic bottles 3And in that vein whenever I am feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues we are facing I think to myself: how many bottle caps does it take to kill a fledgling albatross? How many plastic bags does it take to kill a turtle? You’ll find the answer to these questions is a number that you can reduce from your own life every year, and if it saves a few turtles, a few albatross, a few of hundreds of species across the world, then surely it’s worth the effort, and not at all futile.

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