Project Goal:

This project will improve steelhead habitat in the Santa Margarita River through non-native aquatic species removal, invasive vegetation removal and sediment reduction.

Increased native rainbow trout numbers, decreased non-native aquatic species such as bullhead

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Project Stages

35% Planning and Design

55% Planning and Design

100% Planning, Design, and Permitting


Post Monitoring

Estimated Completion Date:


Project Funders

Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project

Tides Foundation, California Wildlands Grassroots Fund

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, International Federation Fly Fishers

Golden State Flycasters

Fish Affected:

Project Description

The Santa Margarita River offers a prime opportunity to reestablish a steel head population in Southern California. It is lightly impacted by urbanization over 27 miles and has a spring creek-like character in the upper watershed, protected in the Santa Margarita Ecological Preserve. The Santa Margarita River historically supported steelhead and still has natural channel characteristics necessary for migration and propagation of the species.

However, fish passage barriers have prevented steelhead from accessing upper reaches of the river that contain good spawning and rearing habitat. The proposed fish passage barrier remediation project in the Santa Margarita River is one of the most tractable projects in Southern California that can provide passage for steelhead to quality habitat within 5 years. Removal of the fish passage barrier at the Sandia Creek Drive bridge and replacement with a new bridge will provide juvenile and adult steelhead access to 12 miles of upstream habitat. Later this year, the project will head to 100% design phase-we are now seeking grant funding for implementation.

Project Partners:

Golden State Flycasters
San Diego State University and Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve
Riverside County Bio-Monitoring Group

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