Tiburon Salmon Institute, SFSU negotiating long-term lease to continue operating in Marin

The Tiburon Salmon Institute is no longer in danger of losing their location where the organization has operated since 1973. Brooke Halsey, executive director of the Tiburon Salmon Institute, moves a swim ladder across the deck of a Salmon pen that at one time was floating in the bay and filled with Salmon. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner June 2015 file photo)

It appears a Marin County salmon institute that was nearly forced off the San Francisco State University property where it has operated for decades has been given a chance to stay afloat.

The Tiburon Salmon Institute, which raises 10,000 fall-run Chinook salmon each year at the Romberg Tiburon Center, had been issued a cease-and-desist order by SFSU effective Wednesday following years of safety and financial concerns, university officials previously told the S.F. Examiner.

But on Monday, representatives with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (which actually leases the warehouse at the Romberg Center to SFSU) met with the institute’s executive director Brooke Halsey and SFSU officials. It was agreed that the institute would be allowed to continue operating for 30 days from today, and during that time SFSU and the institute would negotiate a long-term lease.

Halsey said today he “cautiously optimistic” about the institute’s future.

“With the drought and salmon conditions being what they are, it’s really important that our children continue to be connected to the Bay and salmon migration,” Halsey said.

The institute has operated at the site rent-free since it was established by the San Francisco Tyee Foundation in 1973. It has not been determined whether the institute will begin to pay rent.

“S.F. State has always been supportive of science education and is committed to RTC’s mission of research, education and community outreach on marine and coastal ecosystems of the Bay Area and beyond,” the university said in a statement.

“The University is hopeful that an agreement can be reached allowing TSI to remain at RTC consistent with California State University and San Francisco State University policies and procedures,” the statement reads.

Halsey said that allowing the institute to remain open this summer gives children a chance to experience the annual salmon migration, in which millions of Chinook and Coho salmon return to the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers by directly passing the Tiburon Salmon Institute through September.

“It’s the salmon highway,” Halsey noted.

Numerous public elected officials had spoken out in favor of allowing the salmon institute to remain open, including Congressman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, who said the institute’s efforts to educate the next generation of salmon advocates are “vital.”


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