With California continuing to suffer through drought, the Scott River’s Coho salmon may need to be relocated.  
This year’s Coho return to the Scott River is the largest since 2007, according to official counts. An estimated 2,700 Coho passed through and remained confined to the mainstem of Scott River because preferred spawning areas were cut off due to the drought, said Preston Harris, executive director of the Scott River Water Trust.
Even with French Creek open, surveys are showing the majority of spawning taking place on the mainstem Scott River, Harris said.
“It’s not the ideal spawning area,” he said.
Coho will normally spawn in the river’s tributaries, preferring Shackleford Creek, Kidder Creek, Etna Creek, Patterson Creek, Sugar Creek, Mill Creek and French Creek, according to Harris.
The drought is changing all that, Harris said. The Coho are now spawning in areas already full of incubating Chinook. This becomes problematic when the salmon begin to emerge, he said.
“What we have are millions of Chinook fry emerging and then a few months later, millions of Coho fry emerging. So, you are going to have millions of fish in a very condensed area under low flows,” Harris said, adding that the conditions could then lead to overcrowding, disease, predation and a battle for food.
To alleviate the conditions, relocation assistance may be necessary, Harris said.
 To accomplish that, various groups – the Scott River Water Trust, the Siskiyou Resource Conservation District, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Karuk Tribe fishery biologists, farmers, ranchers and several others  – are working together to devise a plan.
For now, Harris said, the plan is to monitor water flows.
He said a relocation plan is still being hashed out. “That is still in development,” he said. “It all depends on what the water flow is doing.”
Adding to concerns for the Coho is the fact that the drought hit during a year of big returns. Harris said that happens every three years.
“That is why this is so important,” he said. “The goal is to keep this current stock alive.”
Gareth Plank, owner of Scott Valley Ranch, agrees with Harris. “We want to see those fish survive,” he said.
Harris said this is a chance for the community to come together to solve a problem, setting all differences aside. He said they are trying to save the stock that will return in 2017.
When contacted, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife declined to comment on its plans for arelocation process.