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United Anglers of Casa Grande Making History

As you may recall from last year, the United Anglers of Casa Grande (UACG) program was highly successful in assisting State and Federal Agencies with Coho recovery from the Russian River, Mendocino, and Santa Cruz watersheds. Due to their incredible work and the work of 40 years of alumni, our own UACG has now been approved for what is called a Section 10 permit. This Federal permit will allow UACG students to conduct three major tasks:

1. The rescue of stranded Steelhead trout throughout the Petaluma Watershed. This is a first for our hatchery at this scale.

2. Rearing of Petaluma Steelhead collected from the spring and summer. The objective will be to collect and hold these fish in the hatchery year-round.

3. Emergency Coho salmon site. Now that we have a proven track record, we are permitted to house coho from facilities in the event that conditions dwindle at other State facilities. 

UA students and teacher, Dan Hubacker, are doing their best to help with the current watershed problem in a way that is beneficial to the fish and the environment. Before the environment deteriorates in March/April, they are pulling 'fry' (baby fish), bringing them to their facility, and keeping them for a year to increase their likelihood of survival when they are released back into their natural environment. 

The second tier of the permit consists of rescues which will occur in late May through July. UA students will take approximately fifty percent of the fish in any of the pools where conditions have deteriorated and pose an intimate threat to the fish, and leave the other fifty percent. 

The final tier is to leave approximately fifty percent of the fish in their natural habitat to find out if the facilities and rescue missions are in fact working and helping the fish. Every fish the students encounter will have tissue samples taken. After a year in the hatchery, fish are released back into their environment, and years later they come back as spawners. With the help of the tissue samples, students will then be able to tell who survived and this program had the largest impact on: the fish reared for one year, the rescued fish or those that were left in their natural habitat. 

The team estimates that before the environment deteriorates, they will be able to pull 8,000 fry annually. These efforts, which support the state and federal governments, are solely run by donations and the fundraisers these students put on. No funds come from the state. This is not the only way in which the UACG program is so unique. It is a program that not only collects and saves wild animals but is completely run by high school students. There are not many other programs out there like this, if any, which makes the work that is being done that much more important. This work continues to not only benefit the fish and environment but the students and the broader community. What an incredible example of PCS students solving real-world problems. 

This year the UACG program will be celebrating its fortieth anniversary on Saturday, November 5, 2022. We are so proud of our students and the work they are doing. 

Thank you to the UACG for all you do and go Gauchos!

Students in the Environmental Conservation & Restoration class at Casa Grande

United Anglers working to conserve fish populations in Adobe Creek