Home Industry News Releases Popular “Fish Friendly Farming” Certification Program Will Benefit Local Fish Populations in...

Popular “Fish Friendly Farming” Certification Program Will Benefit Local Fish Populations in Low Water Year

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More than 90% of Napa County Winegrape Growers Are Certified

NAPA, Calif. (April 21, 2021) — With the arrival of warmer weather, it appears California is in the midst of another drought year.  While the potential impact on local farming and potential threat of fires are two obvious concerns, what about the impact on our local fish and the environment?

“Thanks to the popularity and effectiveness of the Fish Friendly Farming certification among numerous Napa County winegrowers, local waterways and fish life are in better shape than many areas of California,” said Laurel Marcus, executive director of Fish Friendly Farming.  She added, “We originally developed this program for the Russian River watershed and then created a specific program tailored for the Napa River watershed. Today, the Fish Friendly Farming Certification program in Napa County is one of the most robust in all of California with more than 90% of Napa County winegrape growers representing more than 1,000 farms have attained Fish Friendly Farming certification.”

Drought conditions can greatly reduce stream flow which impacts fish habitat quality and the availability of freshwater organisms.  Reduced stream flows can also impact critical pool habitat and dissolved oxygen concentrations impacting fish by eliminating pockets of cool water.  The negative impacts of reduced water flow also effect migrating juvenile fish which can negatively impact fish populations for years to come.

“We are proud to have our vineyards certified Fish Friendly Farming, especially as the stewards of 360 acres in the Napa Valley as well as miles of the Napa River.  I appreciate the rigor of Fish Friendly Farming’s scientific approach.  From the environmental scientists on staff to the regulatory agencies they engage us with, every project and practice the California Land Stewardship Institute recommends is specific, results based, and enduring,” said Russ Weis, president Silverado Vineyards. He added, “Sustainability is all about making sure we celebrate more milestones like this.  We will continue to rely on Fish Friendly Farming’s practical and visionary guidance as we work to preserve our land for future generations.”

The Fish Friendly Farming certification program not only benefits the local environment but is also a cost-effective, efficient management strategy for farmers.  Because of that, local growers have been practicing revegetation efforts along local creeks and streams that provide for cool shade that helps benefit fish.  In addition, the certification program calls for controlling erosion from roadways which improves water quality and stream flow.  And it requires fish screens on all water diversions, legally approved water rights and conserving water in the vineyard to protect fish habitat.  The program has implemented environmental improvements on more than 546 miles of roads, 225 miles of creeks and 38 miles of rivers spread out over 95,000 acres in Napa County.

“Not only does Fish Friendly Farming provide a critical third-party certification of environmentally-friendly land practices that help me as a grower, but it provides great benefits to the local environment, waterways and wildlife,” said Matt Crafton, winemaker at Chateau Montelena Winery.  He added, “It is easy to walk along the creeks on the ranch and see the benefits provided by our participation in this program.  Everyone in the Napa Valley benefits from Fish Friendly Farming.”

Fish Friendly Farming was previously associated with the Napa Green program of the Napa Vintners. However, the programs are now separate to better differentiate the environmental improvement certification of Fish Friendly Farming from the Napa Green marketing program.

“Through our role as an independent, third-party certifier for Fish Friendly Farming, we are able to work directly with hundreds of growers in Napa County to assure stream conditions are improved for steelhead and Chinook salmon through water quality and habitat improvements,” said Joe Dillon, Water Quality Specialist with NOAA’s National Marine Service.

For more information, please visit:  https://www.fishfriendlyfarming.org/

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