Nigiri Project Wraps Up Another Successful Year

You can read about the conclusion of another successful year of salmon fish fattening on Knaggs Ranch rice fields on this San Francisco Chronicle cover story.  Or…

Salmon ready for their journey to the PacificOnce upon a time the California native salmon population was dwindling. Every year the fish hatcheries would release hundreds of thousands of salmon to have a miniscule return because the river was so channelized that the fish could not find the important floodplain habitat where they need to put on weight and delay their migration to sea to a time when the upwelling off the coast of San Francisco provides food.

Then one day a Department of Water Resources scientist Ted Sommers had an idea. He placed a 100,000 tagged hatchery fish in the main stem of the Sacramento River and 100,000 tagged hatchery fish in the Toe Drain of the Yolo Bypass (a flood control area that can still operate like a floodplain). He caught 16 fish in the Bay trawls at the end of a few weeks and the Bypass fish were noticeably bigger. And then Carson Jeffres, a grad student at UC Davis decided to build off of this with an experiment on one of the few remaining undammed rivers in NorCal. He created an experiment on the Cosumnes River, which resulted in the now “famous” cooler picture of floodplain salmon three times the size of the other salmon. This resulted in the National Marine Fisheries Service requiring 17,000 acres of floodplain habitat in the Sutter and Yolo Bypasses as part of the Biological Opinions for the water agencies to continue pumping water through the Delta.

In some ways this seemed like an “all is lost” moment because the agencies interpreted that as flooding the Bypasses wall-to-wall for long periods of time and this would have made it tough for the farmers and duck clubs in the Bypass to survive and then this would have compromised the Bypasses as a flood control structure.  Until one day John Brennan, a farm manager/appraiser/rice drier owner put together a group to buy Knaggs Ranch and experiment with using rice fields as surrogate salmon floodplain habitat. And now 3 years later the experiment has proven that the rice fields with water held for up to 6 weeks create “Floodplain Fatties”. And a coalition of farmers, scientists, fish advocates, county folks, wildlife area managers, and agencies are proposing a management system that is compatible with all of the existing uses in the Yolo Bypass. This year is a drought year and naturally really tough on fish. Access to the floodplain will give them resiliency to survive this kind of water year and in the future sea-level rise and warmer temps. It is also Conservation Measure 2 in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

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Urban Bike Adventure Challenges Sacramento Cyclists

We were not sure what to expect. I signed up for The Urban Bike Adventure via Amazon Local and only received a ticket. The website was equally vague. Honestly I had forgotten that I bought the tickets some months ago, and then it popped up on my calendar. I recruited my friend Alison and team “Sactown Friends” was ready to go.

The TUBA Sacramento event's start and finish at Hot Italian pizza place
The TUBA Sacramento event’s start and finish at Hot Italian pizza place

The Urban Bike Adventure (TUBA) team made full use of social media. We received text message updates; advance clues were provided via Twitter and Instagram, and they encouraged people to bring a computer or digital camera (practically speaking: a smart phone will do).  Bike helmets are required so Alison purchased hers just the day before and forgot to take off the tag. We decided it added to her look! We arrived at the pizza place Hot Italian at 16th and O Streets in Sacramento about 11:30 a.m. We registered and we were none the wiser about what to expect. We sized up the crowd and felt reassured that this event did not require one to be a Serious Cyclist.

We got our Clue Sheet at noon and interpreted the instructions to “be sure to read all of the clues and directions carefully” as permission to solve the clues and plan our route for fastest time. We had a great time and it reminded us of a Young Life event.

Everyone in the team has to be in the photos so it forced us to ask for help from other teams and strangers. The clues took us to Old Sacramento and Land Park and I learned Sacramento is very busy on the weekend!

A friendly competitor suggested we jump for joy off a bench to ensure all four team feet off the ground.
A friendly competitor suggested we jump for joy off a bench to ensure all four team feet off the ground.

We had to recruit a stranger to sing for us as we did background moves (I promised Alison the video would not end up on YouTube!). We probably bicycled about 15 miles over the 2:09 it took us to complete the tasks.  We did not expect to be competing for a top prize and yet we were among the top 20 teams!

I also learned that there is a Funderland next to the zoo and Fairytale Town. How did I escape going there with my children?

Team Sactown Friends with he little tomato

Here is a sample clue: “Sacramento is also nicknamed “The Big Tomato” for its role in the tomato canning industry. Find a tomato and take a team picture with it.”

The event takes place around the country and $2 of every entry goes to the Wounded Warriors nonprofit.

We definitely recommend this event for friends, families or co-workers who want to team build. We are looking forward to next year.

 This blog first appeared at Adventures of American Julie.