May 2007 Watershed Highlight of the Month

Butte Creek “Spring Run” Organic Pale Ale Released to support Friend of Butte Creek's Salmon Restoration Efforts

Butte Creek Brewing Co. recently released its “Spring Run Organic Pale Ale,” with partial proceeds benefiting salmon restoration efforts by Friends of Butte Creek.

“I’m super excited about it,” Allen Harthorn, director of Friends of Butte Creek, said about the brewery’s newest pale ale and its new alliance with FOBC. Friends of Butte Creek is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting and enhancing the incredible spring run of the Chinook Salmon and the watershed that supports the salmon’s existence. “It’s the first organic pale ale brewed in Chico…and a great place to further get the word out about Spring Run Salmon.”

The Butte Creek Spring Salmon run is dependent on the sufficient flow from the Pacific Ocean up the Sacramento River and through Butte Creek. At one time so much water was diverted from the river for agricultural uses and PG&E hydroelectric plants that by the early 1980s only 14 fish were counted spawning in the creek. FOBC has been involved in efforts to increase flows below its hydroelectric power facility and to require fish ladders and screens at diversion points and the population began to gradually increase. Today, about 10,000 salmon make the annual spring run up the creek from the Pacific Ocean to spend the summer in the cool pools of the creek before spawning in August. The Chinook Salmon is unique in that the fish spends the summer at its destination before spawning; if the water is too low, the pools are too warm to provide the right conditions necessary for spawning and, ultimately, survival of the Chinook Salmon species.

With Chinook Salmon numbers up, Harthorn said the primary job of FOBC is providing oversight of the management of the watershed. Staying on top of things is the only way to guarantee continued success of the Butte Creek salmon, recognized throughout the world as a incredible success for all involved. “Our job is to stay on top of conditions and make sure conditions are right for the salmon… We don’t like being adversarial, but we will if we have to.”

And now Friends of Butte Creek can look forward to toasting their success with a tall glass of “Spring Run Organic Pale Ale” at their annual film festival May 11.

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