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Environment & Science

Amid record drought, CA salmon get 'free taxi ride' down San Joaquin River




Juvenile Chinook salmon in the lower section of Gatton Creek, close to its mouth on Lake Quinault.
Juvenile Chinook salmon in the lower section of Gatton Creek, close to its mouth on Lake Quinault.
USFWS - Pacific Region/flickr Creative Commons

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Amid the worst drought on record in California, fish biologists are trying to save a salmon run in the San Joaquin River.

The river no longer flows continuously to the confluence of the Merced River as it did many years ago. Parts of it are shallow and too warm; parts of it are now completely dry.

That's made things very tough for the San Joaquin's Chinook salmon population.  Saving them and helping them continue their run is the work of fisheries biologist Don Portz and his team from the US Bureau of Reclamation's San Joaquin River Restoration Program.

Portz spoke with Take Two about how he and his team give the salmon a"free taxi ride, so to speak," down miles of dry river bed to the Merced River confluence, so they can make their way out to the Pacific Ocean from there.