For Immediate Release


Jackie Wei, 310-434-2325; cell: 347-874-8305,

Spring-run Salmon Release Marks Progress in Restoring San Joaquin River

Drought Magnifies Significance of Restoration Efforts to Support California’s Fisheries and Improve Water Management

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - Today, for the first time in over 60 years, spring run Chinook salmon returned to the San Joaquin River when the San Joaquin River Restoration Program released 54,000 juvenile into California’s second largest river. The salmon release is part of a long-term effort to revive the River’s historic salmon fishery and create a healthier waterway for the communities of the San Joaquin River Valley while improving water management in one of the most productive agricultural regions in the nation. The San Joaquin River Restoration Program is the result of the 2006 landmark restoration settlement agreement between NRDC representing fishing and conservation groups, the federal government and the Friant Water Authority representing over 15,000 farmers.

The following is a statement by Monty Schmitt, Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“Today’s salmon release is a monumental step forward in reviving California’s fishing economy and the health of the state’s second largest river, particularly in the face of this year’s drought. This re-introduction of spring run Chinook will help sow the seeds of future returning fish and will breathe new life into a river vital to California’s water supply and natural heritage. Even in the driest years, it is essential to protect the health of our rivers and fisheries while supporting the state’s agricultural economy.”

Statement by Dave Koehler, Executive Director of San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust:

“The San Joaquin River is a vital part of our community and the reintroduction of salmon to its waters represents the value we place on restoring a healthy river system to the San Joaquin Valley. A healthy river is critical to support our local economy and quality of life, not just for ourselves but for our children and all future generations.”


The river recovery milestone comes as more than 95 percent of the state faces severe to exceptional drought conditions. This action, even in one of California’s driest years on record, underscores the importance of statewide planning that balances the water demands of people, fisherman and farmers with investments in long-term water efficiency and resilient supply solutions. And while the salmon release is set against the backdrop of ongoing water flow challenges, it will not impact water supply for any water user nor will any additional water releases be made for the benefit of these fish.


Restoring the health of the San Joaquin River is vital to the health of California. The San Joaquin Valley is home to about four million people. Water from the river and its tributaries contributes flows to the Bay-Delta – a source of drinking water for 25 million Californians.

The spring-run release is an effort that contributes to the long-term reintroduction of salmon stocks to the San Joaquin River, under the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Agreement - one of the largest salmon and river restoration programs in the history of the United States. In 2009, the first natural flows in over a half century were released into the San Joaquin to begin bringing back to life California’s second largest river.

Both fall and spring Chinook salmon runs will be restored through annual releases to the river, with an average long-term goal of 30,000 spring-run and 10,000 Chinook returning to spawn each year. The Restoration Program will also support the region’s farmers by constructing projects to increase opportunities for groundwater banking and improve management of water supplies. Further, the Restoration Program will help improve flood protection for farms and cities along the river as well as improve drinking water quality downstream and provide a living river in which to swim and fish for future generations. 

For more information about the San Joaquin River and accompanying visual assets, please see:


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The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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