I-5 Trabuco Creek Fish Passage Project

I-5 Trabuco Creek Fish Passage Project

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Project Goal:

Enable steelhead passage through this total barrier at the Interstate 5 bridge array on Trabuco Creek and provide access to 15 miles of upstream high quality spawning and rearing habitat. Trabuco Creek, as part of the San Juan Creek watershed, is a high priority steelhead recovery river identified in the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS, 2012) Southern California Steelhead Recovery Plan. 

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Project Stages

35% Planning and Design

65% Planning and Design

100% Planning, Design, and Permitting


Estimated Completion Date:


Project Funders

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

CA Wildlife Conservation Board

Orange County Community Foundation – Warne Family Fund for Endangered Species.

Fish Affected:


Project Description

One of the most significant barriers to southern steelhead migration is the Interstate 5 (I-5) Bridge Array on Trabuco Creek, a major tributary to San Juan Creek. The concrete-lined channel runs below an array of five highway overpasses and spans for a quarter of a mile. CalTrout is developing designs for construction of a fish-passage friendly structure that has high potential to contribute to recovery of the endangered Southern California steelhead. Once the fragmented habitats are reconnected, the impacts are unlikely to reoccur and will leverage upstream fish passage barrier removal in the public lands of the Cleveland National Forest. This project will integrate into large-scale channel infrastructure water supply and flood control projects in South Orange County.

Project Partners:

A large team of South Coast Steelhead Coalition partners are working to bring this project into construction phase by 2021: Trout Unlimited, other environmental NGOs, the Orange County Flood Control District, federal and state resource agencies, local government, CalTrans, an expert engineering team, and members of the local community contribute greatly to the recovery of endangered Southern California steelhead.