FRESNO, Calif. – Tons of rainbow trout had to be rescued from a Central California fish hatchery and moved by truck to cooler lake water, sparing them from the state's relentless drought, wildlife officials said Wednesday.
About 80,000 pounds of trout were scooped up from the San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno and hauled 30 miles uphill to Shaver Lake in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Temperatures in Millerton Lake, which flow through into the hatchery on the San Joaquin River, had reached nearly 70 degrees, threatening the trout's survival, The Fresno Bee reported (http://bit.ly/1Ns8OG3 ).
"The drought is having a devastating effect," California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan said. "We're really making an effort to save as many fish as we can and get them into cold water before it gets any warmer."
The first round of trout was shipped by water tanks to Shaver Lake on Wednesday. Another 50,000 pounds of trout will be moved to surrounding lakes in Fresno and Madera counties.
This marks the first evacuation of fish from the San Joaquin Hatchery because of the drought. Other California hatcheries have gone through the process two years in a row.
In June, wildlife officials trucked millions of young Chinook salmon from a hatchery near Redding to the San Francisco Bay 200 miles away. The drought depleted rivers that the migratory fish normally travel to the Pacific Ocean, wildlife officials said.
Wildlife officials also in June scooped up endangered Coho salmon and threatened steelhead trout struggling to survive in dwindling tributaries to the Russian River in Sonoma County, California's Wine County.