Thursday February 1, 2024


Today it is rare to see a Southern steelhead in the wild, but there was a time when these fish were abundant, swimming in and out of Southern California’s watersheds in the tens of thousands. CalTrout’s South Coast region team is working across the lower half of the state to provide additional opportunities for these fish to thrive in our coastal waters once again – and to prevent the irreversible loss of this iconic Southern California fish species. 

Soon endangered Southern steelhead will be able to access all 29 miles of the Santa Margarita River, restoring this important historic migration corridor from headwaters to sea. In June 2024, CalTrout and our project partners will re-start construction to remove the current bridge and replace it with a new steel bridge that provides climate smart solutions for both fish and people. 

The Santa Margarita River is one of the last free flowing and perennial rivers in Southern California. It drains an arid region at the southern end of the Santa Ana Mountains, flowing 29 miles through natural riparian vegetation, eventually passing through the U.S. Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton until meeting the Pacific Ocean. Its restoration offers a prime opportunity to recover the endangered, yet resilient Southern steelhead.   

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