Two 26″ Steelhead Spawn In San Francisquito Creek Below Searsville Dam. Will They Survive?

CalTrout’s been supportive of the fight to remove Stanford University’s Searsville Dam, which blocks upstream access to steelhead and doesn’t offer dedicated flows.

This video of two 26″ steelhead should remind us why we’re fighting:

Unfortunately, it’s likely these two steelhead will fail to spawn and might even die (from a Beyond Searsville Dam email:)

Unfortunately, despite the great news that wild steelhead continue to return to our San Francisquito Creek, there is bad news as well. As many of you saw in our two newsletters from almost exactly one year ago, a pair of adult steelhead were documented in this exact same location, but later died as the creek dried up and left them stranded. This lower section of the creek becomes dewatered every year and is not adequate for steelhead rearing. Ideally these steelhead would be spawning further upstream were there is year-round flow, but they are often trapped by shallow water in this lower reach below upstream diversion operations. As with the steelhead that died last year, these steelhead can no longer migrate further upstream or make is back to the Bay due to shallow riffles blocking their migration. The clock is ticking for these steelhead as the lower creek dries up.

Adding to the natural permeability of the creek channel in this lower reach are several water diversions upstream that are active this time of year and remove critical flows from the creek. These diversions include two operated by California Water Service Company and Stanford University’s Los Trancos Creek Diversion Dam, San Francisquito Creek Pump Station, and Searsville Dam.

With California Water in the process of upgrading it’s Bear Gulch Diversion Dam and dedicating downstream flows for steelhead, Stanford’s Searsville Dam remains the only stream diversion in the watershed without upstream fish passage or dedicated flows to protect endangered wildlife downstream.

If we learn anything, we’ll update you.