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Local brew to support salmon recovery

Submitted to The Union
Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. have released Endangered Ale. A portion of the proceeds from the special brew will support South Yuba River Citizens League campagin to restore wild salmon to the Yuba watershed.
Submitted by Myrtle + Marjoram |

Did you ever think that drinking beer could help save an endangered species? Well, now it can. Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co, in Nevada City, has just released Endangered Ale, a limited edition red ale.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the beer will benefit the South Yuba River Citizen League’s (SYRCL) work to restore wild salmon to the Yuba watershed through their Yuba Salmon Now campaign.

Timed to coincide with the return of Spring Run Chinook Salmon to the Yuba, the beer is brewed exclusively using a variety of hops called Chinook, and is a red ale to evoke the color of salmon when returning to their home river to spawn.

Listed as an endangered species in 2002, the Spring Run Chinook, a genetically unique species, is perched perilously close to the brink of extinction. Wild salmon once returned to Central Valley Rivers in the millions, with around 100,000 Spring Run Chinook returning to the Yuba each year. However, with diminished habitat, degraded water quality and increased demand on fisheries, only approximately 1,000 Spring Run Chinook return annually to their Yuba spawning grounds.

For nearly a decade SYRCL has been working to create better conditions for wild salmon in the Yuba watershed, as well as steelhead. Yuba Salmon were a keystone species for the watershed. Their annual migration from the ocean to the upper reaches of the Yuba was a critical source of nutrients that supported the ecosystem. SYRCL is working to restore this species, which will have profound benefits for the region as a whole, according to a press release.

”Of the fourteen animal species native to the Yuba River watershed that are at risk of extinction, salmon and steelhead are of extraordinary value ecologically, economically and culturally,” SYRCL’s Senior River Scientist Gary Reedy said. “If we can’t save salmon and steelhead, then what will we save? Everyone has something to contribute to this community effort.”

“SYRCL’s Yuba Salmon Now campaign is based on three science-based strategies: advocacy, restoration and education,” states SYRCL Executive Director Caleb Dardick. “At SYRCL, our advocacy for wild salmon takes us to the halls of power in Sacramento and Washington, DC, to the agency meetings, and sometimes to the courtroom. We have taken the lead to restore the lower Yuba River for salmon habitat by planting over 6,000 trees on the barren gravel bars below Englebright Dam. Education is at the heart of Yuba Salmon Now campaign. We take hundreds of community members and school groups on salmon tours – because nothing is more powerful than seeing wild salmon spawn in our beautiful Yuba River. We’re making sure that future generations grow up learning about salmon and are prepared to be salmon activists too.”

Three Forks brewer and co-owner, Dave Cowie, says Chinook hops have “a sort of piney flavor, reminiscent of the upper reaches of the watershed where salmon once flourished.” Named for the three forks of the Yuba River, most of Three Forks beer is named for places in the watershed, well-known to locals.

“Making this beer and supporting SYRCL is a natural fit for us,” says Three Forks co-owner, Shana Maziarz. “We wanted to make a beer that is as unique as the salmon and celebrates the great work that SYRCL is doing,” she added.

Endangered Ale will be on tap at Three Forks until it’s gone, with 33 percent of all profit from the sale of the beer benefiting SYRCL. Three Forks is located at 211 Commercial St., Nevada City.

For more information about SYRCL: http://www.yubariver.org

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