On August 22nd, the Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition, led by CalTrout, hosted a project kick-off event for the Rose Valley Project at the Rose Valley Lakes Recreation Area in the Los Padres National Forest.
Approximately 20 people representing federal, state, county and private entities attended and participated in the day’s activities.
The event kicks off a two-year “Feasibility and Alternative Assessment Study” to assess potential stream and riparian habitat restoration activities at the location. This project will advance the commitment to recover Southern steelhead and native rainbow trout.
The decline of Southern steelhead is primarily due to land use change, habitat fragmentation in Southern California and climate change, resulting in fish not having enough water or clear, unblocked thoroughfare from the headwaters to the ocean.
The project goal is to reconnect fish migratory habitat by removing four fish passage barriers and restore flows of clean, fresh water to levels that support steelhead and people. By restoring natural river function in Rose Valley, we can protect all listed threatened and endangered aquatic species in the Sespe Creek Watershed.
Additionally, the floodplains and riparian corridors along Southern California’s prominent steelhead rivers have experienced decline due to invasive species that consume and out-compete steelhead for habitat and food. This project will increase recovery and resiliency of native species in the Sespe Creek watershed after the Piru fires by analyzing options to remove aquatic invasive species and enhance wild and scenic rivers.
August 28, 2018
Thanks to your voices, the Climate Resiliency bill AB 2528, championed by CalTrout, has passed the House and the Senate and is moving on to Governor Brown for signature. AB2528 will help California work towards building an effective climate resiliency strategy by “protecting the best” — Sierra meadows, Mt. Shasta area springs and other important areas like estuaries and strongholds.
Original post from April 19th, 2018:
California’s best remaining watersheds offer us a significant opportunity to secure our future water supply in the face of climate change, yet these areas are often under researched and under protected. The Sierra Nevada mountains, for example, provide 60% of California’s developed water supply, yet nearly half of the high mountain meadows that capture and store snowmelt and rainwater are severely degraded.
CalTrout and partners have been hard at work in the Capitol helping to create and champion legislation that protects California’s most vital source water areas. We are pleased to report that Assembly Bill (AB) 2528, a measure that incorporates four important state watersheds in California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy report, passed the Assembly of Natural Resources on April 16th. AB 2528, authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), will help the state create more climate resilient habitats and protect the state’s largest estuaries and most pristine river systems.
We called upon our followers earlier this month to contact their Assemblymembers in support of AB 2528. Over 100 letters were signed and mailed! THANK YOU for taking action.
In the bill, four watershed zones have been identified as ‘habitat resilience areas’- salmon and steelhead strongholds, spring-fed source watersheds, mountain meadows, and estuaries. By adding these zones, the bill would require the Natural Resources Agency to research the importance of these resilient watershed areas in its next Climate Adaptation Strategy.
For more on AB 2528, read the Press Release from Assemblymember Bloom’s office:
On June 5th, California voters approved Prop 68, the Parks, Environment and Water Bond, a record $4.1 billion bond package that will provide funding to a host of environmental priorities ranging from climate change resilience to stream restoration. This is a big win for protecting California’s natural resources and getting more people in nature, which is very important since you cannot steward what you do not know.
Prop 68 will likely be a boon for some long-delayed projects that have struggled to find funding. This is a significant start to help California’s fish and rivers recover. But only if the funds are put to work- and that’s where we come in.
Currently in our 47th year since establishment, CalTrout is working harder than ever: increasing the number and scope of projects, and therefore our impact, all over California. We will secure Prop 68 funds for projects like removing fish barriers in Southern California including Rindge Dam, which is a huge detriment to endangered Southern steelhead; and continuing to partner with farmers in the Central Valley on multi-benefit floodplain projects to help threatened salmon.
Staff Attorney for CalTrout, Redgie Collins, was recently quoted explaining how legislators and voters “are taking heed” of the policies and rollbacks coming out of Washington, D.C. The ballot measure, Redgie says, is part of “building a green wall in California.” (Read article from E&E News here.)
CalTrout joined members of State Parks and Resources Legacy Fund on a coast-to-crest tour of Malibu Canyon on June 6, strategizing for the future removal of Rindge Dam. The 100-foot dam, built for water storage, became obsolete just 30 years post-construction after the reservoir filled entirely with sediment– sediment that is needed for sand replenishment at the beach. It was decommissioned in 1967, but still provides an illegal jumping-off point for visitors.
The photos below (courtesy of State Parks) show the renovated estuary and majestic beauty of Malibu Canyon, and miles of high quality spawning and rearing habitat that would become accessible to endangered steelhead and other species after dam removal to complete their own coast to crest tour.
Since the construction of Rindge Dam, endangered Southern California steelhead have been blocked from reaching high quality spawning grounds in upper Malibu Creek, which is classified as a Core 1 watershed defined in the National Marine Fisheries Service Southern Steelhead Recovery Plan
The removal plan for Rindge Dam is set to be finalized within the next couple months by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; it was approved by the California Coastal Commission earlier this year. The plan has been in the works since the 1990s. Progress has been slow because multiple agencies and organizations are involved in the planning and because the waters that drain into the ocean are federally protected, both U.S. and state agencies must coordinate their efforts.
CalTrout has been involved with this project for decades. Southern California steelhead and fish passage improvement remains one of our Key Initiatives.
The LA Times published an op-ed by CalTrout’s South Coast Program Director, Dr. Sandra Jacobson, on the plight of Southern steelhead and the conservation projects that are happening right now to recover the population.
Locals who like to fish off the coast might be surprised to learn that Southern California steelhead were once prized catches along the coast. With dwindling population numbers, these fish are now federally endangered. Their struggle is symbolic of a larger challenge: maintaining healthy waterways for people and wildlife in urbanized coastal California. But real progress is being made toward recovering this iconic species. Recent efforts provide hope that these native fish can coexist with people, even in this highly altered landscape.
The elusive Southern California steelhead are an incredibly resilient species. Listed as federally endangered in 1997, they represent the southern edge of the steelhead species’ range. Their genetic diversity has, so far, enabled them to adapt to higher water temperatures (up to 77°F!), low streamflows, and weather variability. Southern steelhead are the fish of the future. Their amazing resiliency is a major reason why we need to protect this distinct species. Sustaining their genetic diversity is crucial as it may offer clues that could help other steelhead populations further north weather hotter water with a warming climate.
Sandra leads the South Coast Steelhead Coalition which is charged with implementing the 2012 National Marine Fisheries Service Southern California steelhead recovery plan. We work with a broad range of Coalition partners– non-profits, government agencies, tribes, and interested stakeholders– to re-establish steelhead populations in high priority watersheds. Removing in-stream barriers is a key part of our steelhead recovery plan since fish passage among the complex array of concrete infrastructure is a major concern. CalTrout’s headwaters-to-ocean recovery approach will ensure the long-term persistence of self-sustaining wild populations of Southern steelhead.
CalTrout is an active supporter of Proposition 68, the California Clean Water & Safe Parks Act, as it heads toward the vote this June. As our Executive Director Curtis Knight explains, “we need this important funding to support our state’s water needs and struggling fish. This is a valuable investment in our water security.” Californians have a responsibility to act, especially since our state can no longer rely on the federal government to protect our resources.
If passed, $4 billion will be invested in protecting our own unique natural resources, fighting climate change, and ensuring every Californian has access to clean drinking water and safe, accessible parks. Of that, $1.6 billion will go towards ensuring clean drinking water, increasing local water supplies, and protecting our state from future droughts. Through critical and cost-efficient investments in water supplies and water quality, Prop 68 addresses water at its sources—rivers, lakes, streams, natural areas, and groundwater—and provides funds to make localities more self-reliant by increasing water capture and recycling.
Prop 68 will allow our organization to keep moving forward on projects that support habitat resiliency, resource enhancement, and climate preparedness, such as:
* Our work in Southern California planning for the removal of Matilija Dam to restore the Ventura River Watershed;
* Innovative efforts in the Central Valley helping to restore endangered salmon and improve agricultural practices;
* A South Coast Steelhead Coalition project CalTrout is involved in replacing a bridge on the Santa Margarita River that blocks the migration of Southern steelhead and puts the public at risk due to flooding after storms.
In this cycle we’re in of drought and extreme weather, now is a critical time to support this legislation to protect our communities from ecological degradation and flooding. Vote Yes on Prop 68 to provide a better California for future generations. We can give them the same chance to experience the natural wonders of California as we and our ancestors before us did.
2% for Trout
Working together to protect and enhance our wild fish and fragile angling resources through research, education and advocacy.
California Trout and The Fly Shop have joined in partnership for the 2% for Trout program which will support our fish conservation and restoration efforts. For every trip reservation made through The Fly Shop, either to Alaska, Kamchatka, Argentina, or any other local or worldwide fishing destination, a donation will be made to our organization equal to 2% of the cost of the travel package.
“We are thrilled to partner with The Fly Shop and appreciate their commitment to CalTrout and our work. Together we are ensuring resilient wild fish thrive in healthy waters for a better California.” – Curtis Knight, Executive Director.
Based in Redding, California, The Fly Shop is one of the most recognizable names in fly fishing retail and also operates a full international travel department. Owner Mike Michalak has made a quality reputation over his 40 years in business. “Here at The Fly Shop, it’s always been about people. Since April of 1978, I’ve worked to surround myself with the most talented staff, the best products, and the finest angling travel destinations in fly fishing. Along the way, most of our customers became our friends. Everybody says they’re the best, but my people have been proving it since our doors opened,” explains Mike.
Explore the shop’s website where they include detailed descriptions and photos of each fly fishing destination.
*Required when booking: Mention the 2% for Trout program and specify California Trout as the receiving organization.*
Two dam removal projects in Southern California are continuing to move forward. One of the largest threats to trout, steelhead and salmon are dams. Rindge Dam on Malibu Creek and Matilija Dam on Ventura River have degraded their surrounding ecosystems and the native fish have suffered. CalTrout has been fighting for the recovery of Southern California steelhead and fish passage improvement in these areas for decades. Dam removal is an incredibly slow process due to the coordination needed between multiple agencies and organizations. The hefty price tag to do the job further complicates matters.
A removal plan for Rindge Dam is set to be finalized within the next couple months by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The plan has been in the works since the 1990s. This is the same plan that we asked you, our followers, to read and provide public comment in favor of dam removal back in early 2017. Thanks for speaking up when it matters most!
Rindge Dam has been decommissioned since 1967 after filling with sediment. Since its construction 90 years ago, steelhead have not been able to reach high quality spawning grounds in upper Malibu Creek. Southern steelhead recovery is one of CalTrout’s Key Initiatives. The NMFS’ Southern Steelhead Recovery Plan classifies Malibu Creek as a Core 1 watershed. Core 1 populations are those populations identified as the highest priority for recovery actions based on a variety of factors. The dam limits access to high quality aquatic spawning and rearing habitat, captures sediment and alters flow, impacting the amount and quality of downstream habitat. Though we’re a step closer in removing Rindge Dam, the project will likely not begin until 2025.
As for Matilija Dam, earlier this month the Ventura County Board of Supervisors approved a contract for technical studies on removing the dam. They’ve hired engineering firm AECOM to find a way to reduce the impact from the built-up sediment behind the dam, while minimizing costs and time. This is Phase 1 of the $3.3 million Matilija Dam Removal 65% Planning Design Project that CalTrout helped develop; this is the last planning part of the project. Field work is expected to begin this summer and the final feasibility report to be completed summer 2019. (Read more about this story in the Ojai Valley News.)
Candice Meneghin, CalTrout’s Program Manager based in Ventura had this to say about the latest news: “Last year CalTrout and UC Davis’s SOS II report listed the concern for Southern steelhead as critical – with species extinction likely within my lifetime. The top three anthropogenic threats being major dams, urbanization, and estuary alteration. That stark reality is my daily motivation! Seeing both Matilija and Rindge dam removals moving forward and gaining momentum, on Ventura River and Malibu Creek respectively, gives me much hope for recovery and to keep on keeping on!
CalTrout is also engaged in FERC relicensing for Pyramid and Santa Felicia dams on Piru Creek, a principle tributary of the Santa Clara River watershed. Our litigation and intervention on the operation of Bradbury Dam on Santa Ynez River are ways in which we are also guiding dam reoperations that adequately incorporate climate change, build resilience, and balance the needs of both fish and people.”
Photos by Mike Wier.