The headwaters of the roughly 1,600-square-mile Santa Clara River Watershed are in the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest. The river runs approximately 116 miles until it reaches the ocean between Ventura and Oxnard, California.
The Santa Clara River once teemed with Southern California steelhead. Now, the species is endangered with the number of fish returning to spawn each year in the single digits.
Numerous diversion dams and hydropower projects, such as the Vern Freeman Dam, obstruct fish passage and affect water quality.