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CEMAR – Southern Steelhead Resources Project

Background:
Phase three of the Southern Steelhead Resources Project (SSRP) is now complete.  This study developed a quantitative analysis to establish the highest priority watersheds for steelhead restoration along the California coast south of the Golden Gate Bridge, and identifies the key stream reaches and restoration projects in each of these watersheds. The results are published in a report to guide decision making by agencies, local jurisdictions, watershed groups, funders, and others toward a set of short-term restoration activities intended to conserve the greatest amount of existing steelhead habitat in the most efficient manner south of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Southern Steelhead trout are a significant part of California’s natural heritage; however, the current populations of Southern Steelhead are listed as threatened and endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). Steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) belong to the family Salmonidae which includes all salmon, trout, and chars. Steelhead are similar to Pacific salmon in their life cycle and ecological requirements. They are born in fresh water streams, where they spend their first 1-3 years of life. They then migrate to the ocean where a majority of their growth occurs. After spending between one to four growing seasons in the ocean, steelhead return to their native fresh water stream to spawn. Unlike Pacific salmon, steelhead do not necessarily die after spawning and are able to spawn more than once.

Funding
The OPC approved a grant to the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration for $166,021 for phase three of the Southern Steelhead Resources Project.

Project Grantee
The Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration (CEMAR)

Partners
The State Coastal Conservancy
CEMAR
The California Department of Fish and Game

Outcomes
In Phase 3 of the SSRP, CEMAR established a “road map” of restoration opportunities in the study area based on the San Francisco Estuary Watersheds Evaluation. It has incorporated the information in the more than 5,000 references in the SSRP archive and the experiences of the many project collaborators in a transparent, comprehensive, and intuitive screening of habitat in the watersheds along the coast. The watersheds evaluation provides an efficient method to advance restoration by identifying “essential streams” in the regions, so called “anchor watersheds.” The output of this effort is a unique, thoroughly-supported and easily-interpreted list of the highest priority specific passage barrier, habitat, and flows projects in the most valuable steelhead streams south of the Golden Gate.

Final Report
The full text of the report, Southern Steelhead Resources Evaluation: Identifying promising locations for steelhead restoration in watersheds south of the Golden Gate, can be downloaded in PDF format here.  

The executive summary is also available here.

For maps and to view portions of the Southern Steelhead Resources Evaluation according to county, please visit the CEMAR website.

Council Documents
Southern Steelhead Resources Project Staff Recommendation

Related Projects
State Coastal Conservancy Project: Southern Steelhead Resources (Phase I & II)
Santa Maria Instream Flow Project
Shasta River Instream Flow Project
Big Sur River Instream Flow Project

SSRP Study Area

OPC Staff Contact Valerie Termini, OPC Project Manager