California’s steelhead trout populations suffer from all sorts of issues — including (now) illegal water diversions from marijuana cultivation. In this case, Llagas Creek had been damned (and largely dried up) by an illegal marijuana operation, which threatened to leave steelhead trout high and dry just as their fall spawning season was set to begin (from the San Jose Mercury News):
Steelhead trout spawning season was saved this year in a southern Santa Clara County creek thanks to wardens who raided an illegal marijuana farm and cleaned up the toxic mess left behind.
This fall, state Department of Fish and Game wardens arrested three San Jose men for damming up a tributary of Llagas Creek and diverting large amounts of water to grow pot. Their marijuana operation, wardens said, temporarily dried up a 1,000-square-foot portion of the tributary.
Fish and Game Lt. John Nores said his team was able to destroy the dam, and clean up the area from the pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic waste polluting the area, just in time to save spawning season for the steelhead trout.
Let’s hear it for the steelies (and the Fish & Game wardens)!
California’s steelhead trout populations are facing enough hurdles without adding illegal water diversions to the mix (though law enforcement suggests those diversions are increasing).