Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Let em flow

I spend a fair amount of time in Southern California and have always heard talk of how steelhead once thrived in the ocean flowing coastal rivers of SoCal. The talk is pretty similar to the atlantic salmon stories I've heard in New England. Unfortunately we all no that dams, development, farming practices, poor planning and habitat loss have caused once plentiful species to dwindle or die out. So when Malinda Chouinard forwarded an email from Matt Stoecker I thought it was worth sharing. Here was proof once again of the tenacity of Mother Nature in the face of a formidable opponent - us. Let the following message and pictures serve as a reminder that there is always hope and that we must be part of the solution to environmental crisis.

"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them"
- Albert Einstein

Original email from Matt Stoecker (Stoecker Ecological)
March 31, 2008

Hello all,
I wanted to share an amazing experience I had a couple days ago with you. On a small creek near Santa Barbara I had the rare opportunity to spend some time swimming with and documenting the seldom seen southern steelhead. Attached are some of the photos taken. The two adults back from their adventures at sea are in the 26-30 inch range and the small "juvenile" steelhead are possibly ready to head downstream to start their ocean odyssey.

Unfortunately these fish were prevented from being able to migrate upstream to adequate spawning habitat due to a large road crossing barrier that prevents passage. Fortunately, if all goes as planned this barrier will be removed this summer after seven years of studies, designs, permits, landowner agreements, and fundraising from many individuals.

Right now, all over California's watersheds there are thousands of steelhead and salmon stuck below migration barriers us humans have built, many of which are obsolete, poorly planned, and safety hazards in need of replacement or removal so these amazing fish can swim home and our rivers can run free.

Let em flow,

Photos by Matt Stoecker


Adam said...

A very interesting post. What I am always amazed by is the slow process of change. At 6 or 7 years per dam or barrier, one wonders if many of these western rivers will ever run unimpeded.

Out here in Virginia even old dams from the early 1900s (non-hydroelectric) that have drastically cut brook trout habitat are still hard to take down. At one meeting, the only opposition came from some senior citizens who were worried about ducks in the reservoir. Even this opposition, however, seemed to result in more months of meetings and hoops to jump through.

Anonymous said...

Great post Matt. I can't believe how ridiculous these processes can be... We've got some dams coming down out here in Oregon where the fish are a bit more of a priority for legislators, but it's still a joke.

Richard C. Harrington said...

It took years to put them in, so I think it will take years to get them out. Building something is always inspirational, but I think removal/destruction will require more perseverance.