California's critically endangered coho salmon are at a crossroads. Hundreds of thousands of fish once returned to our streams to spawn. But dams, water diversion, and habitat destruction have pushed the coho to the brink of extinction. Without heroic habitat restoration and water conservation efforts, we may lose our storied silver fish.
While producing our story on these magnificent fish we had the privilege to witness the incredibly dedicated conservation fishery biologists at the Don Clausen Fish Hatchery at Lake Sonoma. Sadly, it seems that much of their work may have gone for naught.
Because of a sharp decline in their numbers, the entire salmon fishing season in the ocean off California and Oregon was canceled in both 2008 and 2009. Quest looks at efforts to protect the coho in Northern California and explores the important role salmon play in the native ecosystem.
You may not think of salmon when visiting the redwoods in Muir Woods, but it's home to a population of Coho Salmon. Redwood forests provide ideal salmon habitat, providing woody debris to protect young salmon in the creeks and keeping them shaded and cool. But the Coho in Muir Woods' Redwood Creek are endangered, and local biologists and volunteers are working to protect the salmon and restore their habitat.