Research Fishery Biologist Brian Spence snorkels through Scott Creek north of Davenport on Friday afternoon as he searches for coho salmon. (Kevin Johnson -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)
By Samantha Clark, Santa Cruz Sentinel
California’s four years of drought have left coho salmon on the brink of extinction, but the small hatchery near Scott Creek south of San Francisco offers hope for the endangered species.

Scientists there at the Kingfisher Flat Hatchery on Big Creek recently finished counting a strong number of coho returning to their native stream to spawn this past winter. They estimate that 160 to 190 salmon, which also represent a healthy mix of genders and reproductive ages, returned.

“That’s more than all of 2006 to 2013 combined,” said Brian Spence, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries biologist based in Santa Cruz. “It’s the best return in 10 years.”

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