NEVADA CITY, CA April 12, 2019 – Thanks to the significant rainfall during the month of March, Sierra reservoirs are primed for the summer fishing season. As anglers head to local water bodies, The Sierra Fund is making sure they have access to important information about which fish are safe to eat. On Saturday, April 13, The Sierra Fund will host their fifth annual Post It Day event, sending groups of volunteers to water bodies around Nevada County to post state-issued fish consumption advisories at critical fishing access points.
The goal of this project is to increase the visibility of important guidelines for making healthy fish consumption choices, especially for those with a higher exposure risk to contaminants found in fish tissue, such as mercury.
Mercury is a developmental neurotoxin, disproportionately impacting women of childbearing age and children, as well as groups who consume fish at a higher rate than the general population, such as for cultural and subsistence diets.
Mercury in Sierra Nevada watersheds is predominately a remnant of the California Gold Rush. It was mined in the Coast Range and transported to the Sierra to improve gold recovery.
To ensure that the public is aware of mercury in fish, and which fish are safe to eat, The Sierra Fund has organized Post It Day annually since 2015. In that time, 80 volunteers have posted advice at nearly 100 locations at over 20 water bodies in five Sierra watersheds.
What’s new for Post It Day 2019?
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the state agency that issues the advisories, recently published site-specific ones for several of the rivers in our area including the North, South and Middle Forks of the Yuba River, the Bear River and Deer Creek.
The Sierra Fund is hosting Post It Day 2019 in conjunction with the second annual Know Your Watershed event, a collaboration of many nonprofit organizations that are hosting education and outreach activities aimed at raising public awareness about the Yuba, Bear and American River watersheds and what conservation organizations are doing to protect them. Post It Day fulfills this mission by educating target audiences on how to recreate safely while still enjoying the full use-value of local water bodies. Know Your Watershed Week takes place during the entire month of April.
This event would not be possible without the dedicated effort of community volunteers. Thank you to the Post It Day 2019 volunteer team! This effort extends beyond the one-day annual event. If you want to get involved, contact The Sierra Fund’s Community Organizer Greg Thrush, (530) 265-8454 x212, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sierra Fund also wishes to thank OEHHA for translating numerous fish consumption advisories into Spanish to cast a wider net on the audience receiving this important public health information.
Why posting is important:
Due to a history of gold mining in the region, a number of Sierra Nevada watersheds are impacted with mercury, which can be incorporated into the food web, making certain species of fish unsafe to consume in unrestricted quantities.
The State Water Board is addressing mercury in reservoirs through a Statewide Mercury Control Program. A 2017 survey querying 131 reservoir owners and operators of mercury impacted water bodies on fisheries and water chemistry management yielded two critical insights relevant to the Post It Day project:
1) More than half of respondents answered “No” to a question regarding whether state-issued fish consumption guidelines are posted at reservoirs. Post It Day directly addresses this information gap by making sure these guidelines are accessible at the places where people fish.
2) In response to which types of fish are being consumed from mercury-impaired reservoirs, the highestranking species was “largemouth bass.” Black bass species, including largemouth, are known to have high levels of mercury, and the Statewide Advisory for California Lakes and Reservoirs without Site Specific Advice recommends that women of childbearing age and children do not eat any bass.
By posting fish consumption advisories in highly trafficked locations at lakes, the likelihood is increased that anglers and the public will see the guidelines and change their fish consumption habits to eat fewer high-mercury fish such as bass, and instead consume low-mercury options such as rainbow trout.