Thursday January 4, 2024

Lompoc Record

The anadromous Southern California steelhead (SCS) trout distinct population segment (DPS) indigenous to Southern California received Endangered Species status in 1997 due to declining populations. Annually returning adult SCS, from the ocean to freshwaters, is estimated at less than 1% of historical numbers.

Over the last two decades, the situation for these trout native to the Los Padres National Forest (LPNF) has continued to deteriorate owing to surface water extractions, dams, drought, climate change and impacts due to wildfire. The endangered species now has one of the highest levels of federal protection.

Stream conditions and steelhead critical habitat were further degraded by the massive Zaca Fire in 2007 that denuded landscapes and contributed to greater sediment deposition downstream, affecting steelhead access to traditional spawning grounds.

As SCS stocks have declined substantially from their historic numbers across the LPNF and other parts of Southern California, many are now facing extinction.

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