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Welcome to Salmon Country: California’s Central Valley

April 19, 2024

To the residents of California’s Central Valley, salmon represent family, culture, jobs, community, and identity.

Man aboard a boat casting a fishing line Central Valley salmon fisherman and Nor-Cal Guides and Sportsmen’s Association Vice President, Scott Hambelton, casts from his boat on the American River. Credit: NOAA Fisheries

The Central Valley has a rich salmon culture. Join us as we talk with community members and learn how they connect with Central Valley salmon.

Salmon have been here for millions of years. They have been central to the culture and economy of Indigenous people since time immemorial. They still are to this day.

In the mid-to-late 1800s, European settlers exploited West Coast salmon in excess, and overharvest continued into the 1970s. As native salmon runs declined, hatchery programs replaced the native runs. Meanwhile, impacts from industry, agriculture, mining, forestry, and urban development filled floodplains, dredged and channelized rivers, contaminated water, removed streamside forests, and built dams, blocking the habitat salmon need to spawn and rear.

Together with partners and community members, we are working to ensure salmon are a vibrant contributor to a thriving Central Valley. Where they are valued as a part of our culture, their important role in our ecosystem, for the way they support jobs, recreation, and feed our families.

Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on April 19, 2024