If you thought salmon and wine went well together, you were right.
State representatives recognized grape growers and landowners on Friday for their efforts to conserve water and save local fish species affected by the severe drought.
Jackson Family Wines of Santa Rosa was among those recognized at the conference. The winery has been going above and beyond to protect Coho Salmon, said Andrew Vaughn, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesperson.
Coho Salmon rely on adequate water flows during their migration periods, but they face challenges when water is diverted for irrigation and power generation, as it often is in agricultural areas. In an effort to give the salmon the best chance at survival, Jackson Winery recently paid for pipes to divert water from the Russian River to nearby Creeks in the Fulton and Santa Rosa area, where Coho have been known to swim.
The winery also donated $20,000 to help Trout Unlimited establish a program that would provide water drawing alternatives for people living near the stream.
“This effort demonstrates what I think is the most important fundamental fact about the drought – we’re all in this together,” said Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in a statement. “The commitment of grape growers to keep water in the streams when fish most need it demonstrates that agriculture understands this fact and is part of the solution.”
Other vineyard operators have also made efforts to conserve water and protect local fish species. There are currently 41 Voluntary Drought Initiative agreements between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and rural landowners located in the Russian River Watershed, which comprises stretches of Mark West, Green Valley, Dutch Bill and Mill creeks.
“I’m super happy today,” said Brock Doleman, a co-director at the Water Institute at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. “This is literally a pipe dream of mine.”