“The Kokanee have been known to find other creeks to swim up and spawn in and are known to return to Taylor Creek the following year when conditions allow,” the Forest Service noted in a press release. Long-term forecast predictions don’t look encouraging, however.
“It’s putting us on warning that things could get a lot worse,” UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Director Geoffrey Schladow told the Los Angeles Times.
UC Davis has been monitoring Lake Tahoe since 1958 and annually releases a “State of the Lake” report highlighting its conditions. This year’s report sounds the alarm on the damage climate change will continue to do to Lake Tahoe. Predictive models show an increase in air temperature, decrease in snowfall, and more intense droughts when they do happen. Precipitation will present itself more as rainfall than snowfall, leading to more dramatic swings in water levels.
Lake Tahoe is presently on a downswing in water levels and, according to Schladow, that’s the way it’s mostly been since last year. Even if Lake Tahoe gets a bump from rainfall and snowfall, it faces contamination threats from debris from the nearby Caldor Fire, which is still smoldering and will continue to do so for weeks to come. Smoke and ash have already floated into the lake because of this year’s intense wildfire season.
If conditions stay dry, many of the 63 streams flowing into Lake Tahoe could become blocked by sandbars. This presents yet another roadblock for salmon to spawn. Though Kokanee salmon were introduced to Lake Tahoe by humans in 1944, the fish are a vital part of the region’s economy, drawing tourists and sports fishermen alike.
This may all sound bleak, and it is! But we can make a difference if we put our all into investing in the very necessary infrastructure we need to combat climate change. Start here by urging Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act.
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