For the first time, California wildlife officials are evacuating two hatcheries for rainbow trout, salmon and steelhead near Sacramento to save the fish from rising water temperatures brought on by prolonged drought.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is moving rainbow trout out of the American River Hatchery and has already released salmon and steelhead from Nimbus Hatchery into state waterways.
Biologists with the agency estimate that by midsummer, the temperature of water entering the hatcheries will be above what the fish can tolerate, which would have caused major losses.
It marks the first time that all fish at both hatcheries have been evacuated. Nearly 430,000 fingerling steelhead from Nimbus Hatchery have been released into the American River six months ahead of the normal February release time.
Anemic creeks up and down the state have presented similar challenges for spawning fish.
The other 20 state-managed hatcheries are expected to make it through the summer without having to evacuate their fish, the agency added.