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Salmon Survey Project

Salmon Survey Project


We are always looking for people to participate in our Salmon Survey project in Auburn Ravine during the fall and winter of each year.  That is when large adult Chinook Salmon migrate up Auburn Ravine to spawn in the Lincoln area and farther upstream.  We count the salmon and their nests, and take note of the GPS coordinates of each sighting.  We also collect DNA samples from salmon carcasses.  With the DNA samples, we will be able to estimate lineage percentages for Chinook salmon in Auburn Ravine. (How many are the offspring of salmon that spawned in Auburn Ravine, and how many are from hatcheries, or other streams?)  And, if we find a dead salmon that has been tagged at a hatchery, we collect the tag.

This volunteer activity involves walking/wading along a section of Auburn Ravine on occasional Saturday mornings from mid-October until mid-February (weather and water conditions permitting.)  Each section is about 1.5 miles in length.  Volunteers do not have to participate for the entire season but are welcome to if they wish.  Most volunteers finish the survey of their sections by Noon or 1 PM.  For safety’s sake, we have the volunteers work in pairs or threesomes.  The volunteers look for salmon carcasses and if they find them, they collect a DNA sample by cutting a small piece off of the salmon’s heart.  The heart is a much better source of DNA than a fin clip because the heart is usually the last organ to decompose after a salmon dies.  We have a CDFW permit for this project. Young people age 10 to 17 are welcome to participate but must be tall enough to wade safely, and be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. All volunteers, parents, or legal guardians need to sign a waiver form.

See this link for the complete TRAINING GUIDE for volunteers:

A Guide to Salmon Surveys for Volunteers >>>


It will be best if volunteers have their own wading boots (the chest-high type), but some loaners are available.  Volunteers should never wade deeper than mid-thigh deep.  Friends of Auburn Ravine (FAR) will provide training on DNA collection. The Project Manager kicks off the Saturday surveys at McBean Park in Lincoln at 9 AM.  The project manager hands out the survey kits, assigns volunteers to their stream sections, and works out how they will get to and from their sections (who carpools with whom to where?).  When they are done walking/wading their stream sections, the volunteers return to McBean Park where they give the Project Manager the survey kits, their completed data forms, and any DNA samples or tags that were collected.  The Project Manager will freeze the DNA and hand it off to Cramer Fish Sciences for analysis.  The tags will be given to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife for analysis.

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