Meeting Date:

June 21, 2004

Budgeted:  Yes



Program/Line Item No.:  Fisheries 2-4-2C

Staff Contact:

Dave Dettman

Cost Estimate:  $12,480


General Counsel Approval:  N/A

Committee Recommendation:  The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on June 7, 2004 and recommended approval.

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  Low stream flow conditions have necessitated intensive rescues of steelhead juveniles, smolts and adults in the lower Carmel River since May 12, 2004.  It is anticipated that the need for these rescues will continue into September 2004. Contracts for the two limited-term fish rescue workers hired in May will end on June 30, 2004.  New contracts for these seasonal workers will be needed in order to continue handling the increased workload associated with conducting rescues in the lower Carmel River. Funding of $12,480 for these positions is included in the budget for FY 2004-2005. Authorization is requested to hire two seasonal Fish Rescue Workers, with those individuals entering into agreements with the District for up to 481 hours of work each for the period of time between July 1, 2004 and September 30, 2004.


RECOMMENDATION: Authorize the expenditure of funds to hire two limited-term fish rescue workers for up to 962 hours of work assisting the fisheries biologists and river maintenance staff with fish rescues during the summer of 2004.  These employees would be paid $11.25 per hour.  The Administrative Committee considered this item on June 7, 2004 and voted 3 to 0 to recommend approval.


IMPACT ON STAFF AND RESOURCES:  Funds totaling $12,480 are included in the Fisheries Mitigation Program as line item 2-4-2C in the Summary of Project Expenditures section of the FY 2004-2005 Budget. In the process of analyzing possible budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, staff has investigated the consequences of not funding these limited-term positions.  If these positions are not continued through the summer of 2004, the following impacts on staff and resources are projected to occur:


1)         If staff attempted to conduct rescues with fewer workers, more fish would be lost because a smaller 3-person crew cannot effectively keep up with the number needing rescue and cannot work fast enough to keep up with the retreating river front.


2)              If existing staff were pulled from other tasks to work only on fish rescues, they would work more strenuously over a longer period, thereby increasing the risk of being injured on the job.


3)              If existing staff were diverted from other tasks to work solely on fish rescues, other tasks would not be completed such as riparian irrigation, the Carmel River Watershed Council contract, and applications for future grant funding.


4)         Shifting staff to rescues only would compromise the maintenance and operations schedule at the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility, particularly on weekends and holidays, as scheduling weekend work requires existing staff to take other weekdays off, in order to avoid overtime.


BACKGROUND:  During the past ten years, District staff has initiated rescues when streamflow receded below ten cubic feet per second at Highway One.  This has occurred between April 1 and September 3.  Rescues of steelhead began this year on May 12.  The District will be rescuing and transporting three groups of steelhead, including smolts, kelts (spawned-out adults) and juveniles. The smolts and kelts will be transported downstream to the lagoon or ocean, while juveniles will be transported upstream to the Sleepy Hollow Steelhead Rearing Facility or permanent habitats above the Narrows.  Given the increase in fish numbers and dry weather, additional help will be needed to successfully complete rescues.