Kern River Rainbow Project

 Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund

A grantmaking initiative that supports conservation projects in the Upper Kern River Basin.

The Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund was established in 2005 as a requirement of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s relicensing of Southern California Edison’s Kern River Number 3 Hydroelectric Project. The specific purpose of the Fund is to grant dollars to projects that support three priorities:

  1. Implementation of the Upper Kern Basin Fishery Management Plan
  2. Restoration of the native Kern River rainbow trout
  3. Other enhancement of fisheries resources in the Upper Kern Basin

 

The Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund was established with a principal of $2.5M deposited by Southern California Edison. Distribution of interest from the fund is used to implement the Upper Kern Basin (North Fork Kern above Lake Isabella) Fisheries Management Plan. The primary focus of that plan is the restoration and enhancement of the Kern River Rainbow Trout. The Little Kern Golden Trout is also within the Upper Kern, but is managed under a separate recovery plan. Golden Trout Creek was at one time in the South Fork Kern Basin and has California Golden Trout. California Golden Trout are managed under a separate conservation strategy for that sub species. The Upper Kern Basin Fisheries Management Plan is currently undergoing review with the intent to update the document as a conservation strategy for Kern River Rainbow Trout. As updates to that process are available they will be posted in this forum. The intent of the trust fund and the conservation strategy for the Kern River Rainbow trout are to provide the resources and guidance.

 CDFW Press Release January 4, 2013

CDFW Moves Native Trout Program Forward at Kern River Hatchery

New Project Will Restore Native Fish, Improve Fishing and Help Local Economy

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reintroducing native rainbow trout to the Kern River.

Four water wells were recently drilled to serve as a back-up water source during adverse river conditions in preparation for the reintroduction.

“This is an important phase of the project and represents a significant milestone in preserving the heritage species in the Kern River,” said CDFW senior fisheries Environmental Scientist Brian Beal. “Upgrading our facility to reintroduce native trout will offer great fishing opportunities, while providing economic benefits and encouraging tourism.”

The reintroduction program will focus on Kern River rainbow trout, a strain of rainbow trout endemic to the Kern River. Because of heavy angling pressure and non-native introductions over the last century, the native fish can only be found in remote isolated areas of the Kern River.

As the program evolves, CDFW also plans to replace the existing non-native trout plants in the main stem Kern River and surrounding area with native trout. These non-native species include brown and other strains of rainbow trout that were planted over the years but not native to the river.

Additional planning is underway to collect the purest native trout from remote locations in SequoiaNational Park during the fall of 2013. Collection of these wild fish will provide fertilized eggs and serve as future foundation brood stock.

Funding for the project comes from both a Southern California Edison Company trust fund set-up in the mid-1990s and CDFW.

In addition to Southern California Edison Company’s financial support, the U. S. Forest Service, Kern River Fly Fishers, Southern Sierra Fly Fishers, Kaweah Fly Fishers, Friends of the (Kern River) Hatchery, the County of Kern and the local community have all made significant contributions and are working together to help make necessary improvements for this program.

 Upper Kern Fisheries Enhancement Fund Grant Recipients

Spring 2013

Southern Sierra Fly Fishers awarded a grant, not to exceed $45,000, for the implementation of a propane back up generator for the Kernville hatchery.  The back-up system will protect the Kern River Rainbow brood stock during power outages.

 Fall 2012

Southern Sierra Fly Fishers, $17,129 plus a not to exceed of an addtional $10,000 towards the hatchery electrical, water distribution, and wellheads.  A vote in principle to be validated by a quorum through e-mail was made to approve the recommendation to the Kern Community Foundation to approve funding of up to $27,000 to cover any additional costs related to inflationary or unforeseen costs with establishment of a reliable water supply to meet the needs of the Kernville Hatchery.

 Fall 2011

  • The Regents of the University of California—$89,045:  To develop a hatchery and genetic management plan for the Kern River Rainbow Trout.

Summer 2009

  • Southern Sierra Fly Fishers—$120,000:  To drill four wells and provide improvements for rearing Kern River Rainbow Trout.

Well Grant and Backup Water Supply Grant awarded to SSFFC

Summer 2009, The Edison Trust Fund granted the Southern Sierra Flyfishers (SSFFC) a $120,000 grant to help the DFG with the drilling on five new wells at the Kernville Planting Base Facility.  This grant will help convert the facilty into a hatchery again supporting the return of native Kern River Rainbow trout (KRR) to its native watershed.  The wells were drilled in August 2012 and the KRR Project is currently underway. Brood stock collection from deep within Sequaoia national Park will begin in the Fall 2013, pending a permit granted by the NPS.   It will take five years, with no setbacks, to get the hatchery running at full capacity producing  KRR for  planting the North Fork of the KernRiver.

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Summer 2008

  • The Regents of the University of California—$83,907:  To assess selected fish populations within and outside the Kern River drainage to determine the existence and distribution of remaining "pure" Kern River Rainbow Trout.
  • California Department of Fish and Game—$31,236:  To provide back country horse patrols into the Upper Kern Basin so as to enhance the protection of the Kern River Rainbow Trout and to help insure its continued recovery.
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI)—$7,802:  To collect trout samples and inventory zooplankton assemblages in lakes and streams identified for restoration in the Upper Kern River Sequoia National Park.
  • University of California, Davis—$54,075:  To inventory lake benthic macro invertebrate assemblages; visually identify lake benthic macro invertebrate and zooplankton assemblages; and genetically analyze lake and stream benthic macro invertebrate assemblages, zooplankton assemblages, and trout populations in lakes and streams identified for restoration in the Upper Kern River of Sequoia National Park.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara—$18,270:  To inventory and visually identify benthic invertebrate assemblages in streams identified for restoration in the Upper Kern River of Sequoia National Park, in order to evaluate recovery of benthic macro invertebrate assemblages in Upper Kern River restoration sites.
  • Sequoia National Forest—$15,466:  To provide baseline assessment of fisheries resources in areas not normally covered by project based stream surveys to help identify streams with potential for stocking with Kern River Rainbow Trout, degraded streams in need of remedial work and provide trends with repeated inventory for tracking recovery from the McNally fire.
  • Inyo National Forest—$64,465:  For the restoration and improvement of trout habitat in the Upper Kern Basin, and to the improvement of the quality of the Upper Kern Basin water including the attainment and maintenance of water quality regulatory standards such as fecal coliform levels.

Summer 2007

  • California Department of Fish and Game—$27,335:  To provide back country horse patrols into the Upper Kern Basin so as to enhance the protection of the Kern River Rainbow Trout and to help insure its continued recovery. 
  • The Regents of the University of California—$81,903:  To assess selected fish populations within and outside of the Kern River drainage to determine the existence and distribution of remaining "pure" Kern River Rainbow Trout. 

 

 

Hatchery Repairs

The Southern Sierra Fly Fishers and the Kern Sportsman's Show paid for repairs and organized donated time from local contractors for repairs at the Kernville hatchery in 2011 which allowed water to run to the big raceways.  The decaying  of the water deversion channel from 82 year old concrete  had deteriorated to the point that walls were caving on.  The DFG can truck in big fish from other hatcheries for stocking but not nearly as many as they can raise in the two large raceways nor as cost effective. Check out this post for some of the results of collaborating with the local community.   http://www.kernriverflyfishing.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?num=1298085759