Update on San Francisquito Creek, CA

American Rivers is redesigning this and other San Francisquito culverts to improve steelhead passage in the watershed.
American Rivers is redesigning this and other San Francisquito culverts to improve steelhead passage in the watershed.

American Rivers’ staff are making great progress in San Francisquito Creek, which was listed as #5 on our list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers in the country earlier this year. San Francisquito Creek is located south of San Francisco, CA in Silicon Valley. Compared to other urban streams in the area, San Francisquito Creek has largely retained its natural character and, in its lower sections, boasts one of the best wild steelhead runs of any Bay Area stream.

The largest threat to the stream is Stanford University’s Searsville Dam. Searsville Dam is a complete barrier to steelhead trout, which migrate out to the ocean and back into their natal streams to spawn. The dam blocks access to 20 miles of steelhead habitat upstream of the dam and reduces stream flow below the dam, often blocking all flow in summer.

American Rivers is working directly with Stanford University and other stakeholders on the Searsville Dam Alternatives Study to investigate possible solutions to resolve the problems caused by the dam. Stanford plans to complete the study and make a decision on the future of the dam by the end of this year. As this important decision date approaches, the dam is generating a lot of press coverage, including this in-depth interview from ABC News:

But American Rivers is not limiting its work to Searsville Dam. We are committed to removing other, smaller fish passage barriers in the watershed as well. This month, American Rivers received funding to redesign three culverts in the watershed that prevent fish passage at high and low flows, which are crucial to fish migration. Two of these structures are located on Los Trancos Creek and one is located on Bear Creek. By bundling these three projects together, American Rivers is able to create a larger benefit for fish, while reducing costs of the individual projects. We are very thankful to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California State Coastal Conservancy for their generous support of this important work.

By simultaneously tackling both the biggest threat to the creek (Searsville Dam) and the smaller barriers in the watershed (poorly designed culverts), American Rivers is building momentum, raising awareness, and making major progress to restore this Most Endangered River.