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Auburn Ravine restoration ramped up

By: Colin Berr Journal Staff Writer
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A once pristine waterway supporting an abundance of wildlife, Auburn Ravine has seen much of its indigenous fauna disappear. The degradation of the wild salmon population has given rise to the Save Auburn Ravine Salmon and Steelhead (SARSAS), a grassroots volunteer organization. “Salmon are so important to the local environment because they serve as both an indicator and keystone species,” said Scott Johnson, SARSAS member. “They are known to have a high tolerance for pollution and when they start to go, it’s a bad news for the whole environment. Additionally, 200 other species rely on the presence of salmon in the food web.” The group was founded in 2008 by Jack Sanchez, who envisions the rehabilitation of salmon and steelhead along the entire waterway. Priorities include removing human barriers to the salmon run and preventing pollution from affecting spawning areas. Flashboards, which constitute a large percentage of human barriers, are set up to divert water flow during certain times of the year, but are rarely taken down. Unable to complete their journey upstream, salmon die in these dammed areas. “Another major problem is the excess of ammonia in the ravine, which settles into the mud where the salmon spawn” said Gary Mapa, vice president of SARSAS. These chemicals from roads and nearby yards eventually end up in the ravine via storm drains, devastating the local population. Auburn Mayor Bridget Powers and Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt met with SARSAS on Monday to determine ways to prevent water-treatment waste from reaching the ravine. “We’ve been able to create a partnership between Auburn, Lincoln, Newcastle, Rocklin, and Placer County,” Weygandt said. “Right now we’re at a pivotal decision-making point concerning the restructuring of waste-treatment plants.” Johnson spoke of the benefits of a restored ravine for the Auburn community. “The Ravine has the potential to become a jewel for the city. A healthy creek can boost Auburn’s economy through tourism and provide many educational and recreational opportunities.” SARSAS meetings are held 10 a.m. the fourth Monday of each month. Prospective volunteers can contact Jack Sanchez at (530) 888-0281.