Healing and Reconnecting Streams
Barriers in streams are major obstacles to the recovery of endangered steelhead trout in the northern Santa Monica Bay watershed. Fish rely on streams as pathways to move between feeding, nursery, and spawning grounds. Obstacles such as dams block access to fish spawning and rearing habitats, and can severely impact natural stream functions and hydrology. It has been estimated that more than 80% of the spawning habitat and 60% of the rearing habitat has been made inaccessible to steelhead trout in Malibu Creek as a result of passage barriers such as dams, culverts, and Arizona crossings. Restoration of steelhead trout to its historic range could serve as a key indicator of ecosystem health for streams in the Bay Watershed. Steelhead populations in major creeks in the Santa Monica Mountains should be restored, via removal of barriers to fish migration barriers and restoration of spawning and riparian habitat and associated buffer habitat. Through partnerships with land owners and agencies, TBF works to remove these structures to improve fish passage and reconnect lower watershed habitats with the upstream headwaters.
In the summer of 2015, TBF, in partnership with DPR implemented a fish barrier removal project within Leo Carrillo State Park. The project removed two large Texas crossings which previously impeded the upstream migration of the federally endangered steelhead trout. In addition, the project included the manual removal of a smaller upstream check dam. When complete, this project will provide access to an additional four and a half miles of new stream habitat for migratory fish. Click HERE for additional details on the project, including a time-lapse video of a crossing removal.
The 100-foot tall Rindge Dam on Malibu Creek is located in Malibu Creek State Park, approximately three miles upstream from the coast of Malibu, California. It was constructed in the 1920s, and was completely filled and blocked with sediment coming down the watershed by the 1950s, cutting off its original function, which was to create a water reservoir.
The agency leading the restoration planning effort for the dam removal is California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). TBF is currently involved with the restoration planning process through communications and technical support. DPR is currently working on the feasibility study, which analyses several alternatives for dam removal. This important project would provide access to over 10 miles of upstream habitat to anadromous fish species, including endangered steelhead trout.