Posts Tagged: steelhead
The city of Los Angeles is preparing to remove parts of the LA River's concrete lining, but that may not be enough to bring back native fish, reported Zoie Matthew in Los Angeles Magazine.
"It's hard to do piece-by-piece restoration projects for things adapted to river and stream systems. And it's impossible for steelhead," said Sabrina Drill, UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Steelhead need a continuous, rapidly flowing channel to complete their life cycle. Other native fish, such as the Arroyo chub, will need gravel, plants, sediment and pools to be restored.
"Ecological heterogeneity is really important," Drill said. "Fish tend to need different kinds of habitat."
Warmer water temperature is another concern. The river lacks trees and plants to shade the water and concrete soaks up the sun's warmth, creating a habitat unsuitable for natives.
Drill said some of the new fish in the river have favorable characteristics. Mosquito fish help with pest control and carp make for good fishing.
"Part of (the river's) role is to provide low-income, underserved communities with a place to access nature, see native birds, and increase public health by having a safe area to walk and fish," Drill said. "I think there's value there too."
California once teemed with millions of native salmon, trout and steelhead. The state has 31 distinct types of these iconic, majestic fish. But decades of degradation to aquatic habitat has depleted their numbers in many areas of the state. According to a report by UC Davis fisheries professor Peter Moyle and colleagues, 20 of these fish species are in danger of extinction within the next century. They are important species not just for the recreational or commercial benefits they afford, but also because they are a direct reflection of the health of the environment.
“Large self-sustaining populations of native salmon and trout are found where streams are in reasonably good condition,” Moyle wrote in his 2008 report, “SOS: California's Native Fish Crisis.” This report was commissioned by the conservation organization California Trout (CalTrout), which exists to support conservation science, education, and advocacy efforts to protect California's water resources and fisheries.
Moyle, whose academic home is the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at UC Davis, is no stranger to CalTrout. He is the foremost authority on California's native freshwater and anadromous (sea-run) fishes and has been a leader in research and conservation efforts. His research has provided the core science essential to statewide conservation planning for freshwater and estuarine native fishes, especially salmon and trout. Graduate students who studied with Moyle now occupy many top-level fish ecologist and management positions in state and federal agencies, as well as key nonprofits like CalTrout.
In May of this year CalTrout and UC Davis announced the formal creation of the Peter B. Moyle and California Trout Endowed Chair in Cold Water Fishes. The endowment will provide crucial support for the chair holder's scholarly activities, teaching, and public service involving cold water fish and aquatic ecosystems. He or she will teach department courses, mentor graduate students, conduct research and outreach, and provide leadership in the conservation of cold water fishes and their ecosystems. The university recognizes that salmon, trout, and steelhead are the major drivers of many conservation efforts and will have the highest priority in the chair's program.
Most of the contributors to the endowment are CalTrout board members such as Nick Graves. He and his wife, Mary, explored many trails and trout waters in the Sierra Nevada over the years and have enjoyed larger rivers flowing from the Trinity Alps, Mt. Shasta, and the Siskiyou Mountains. “The opportunity to create a scientific chair whose research targets California waters, in perpetuity, is a comforting thought,” Graves said.
“I have worked with the organization since its earliest days and have always admired the dedication of its members to aquatic conservation,” Moyle said. “I am biased, of course, but I think CalTrout has made a very smart investment in the future by creating an endowed chair.”