Native Rainbow Trout Subpopulation Expansion Plan

Native Rainbow Trout Subpopulation Expansion Plan

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Project Goal:

The management of non-native aquatic species addressees a major threat to the survival of native trout. Management is arduous and expensive, but worth the long-term investment to clear prime habitat of exotic species and make way for natives.

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Project Stages



Estimated Completion Date:


Fish Affected:

Project Description

Southern steelhead represent the southern edge of the species’ range and are critically vulnerable to climate change. CalTrout is leading the South Coast Steelhead Coalition (SCSC) and the Santa Clara River Steelhead Coalition in the Native Rainbow Trout Subpopulation Expansion Plan Project.

The goal is to increase anadromous populations, while preserving the genetic and geographic diversity of inland native rainbow trout that are of steelhead lineage and important for steelhead recovery. The four high priority rivers targeted for restoring anadromous steelhead populations are the San Luis Rey, Santa Margarita River, San Mateo Creek and San Juan Creek. As part of the SCSC, CalTrout is working to ensure anadromous fish populations can successfully migrate between the ocean and freshwater habitats. Connecting these steelhead populations to each other and to the ocean will strengthen the regional population network and increase resiliency of the species. Preserving native trout populations can be achieved by translocating native trout as embryos into suitable habitat and using managed breeding to maximize genetic diversity. The end goal is not to maximize trout numbers, but to create stable and small populations in geographically dispersed areas.

This will serve as ecological risk mitigation from sporadic local extinction caused by severe environmental changes such as fire, drought, water quality or quantity alterations, non-native species competition, climate change and disease. In 2019, CalTrout began project planning and development, and is working on a path forward for project funding.

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