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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

Sierra Club
   Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | chapter wide
Some listed species that depend on the Pajaro River and its tributaries (June 2002)

š California steelhead trout
š Western pond turtle
š Western snowy plover
š Red-legged frog
š Tidewater goby
š Least Bellās vireo
š Swainsonās thrush
š Monterey spineflower

The National Marine Fisheries Service is concerned about the effect of flood walls on the lower Pajaro on steelhead trout. The California Department of Fish and Game is mandated to protect the steelhead as well as the western pond turtle, various riparian songbirds and other native species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has voiced concerns about the possibility of tidewater gobies being washed out of the lower river if water velocity is increased. This agency is also concerned about the impact of flood control structures on snowy plover habitat at the mouth of the river and on the ability of the red-legged frog to access the river if flood walls are constructed.

Below Highway 1, the California Coastal Commission has jurisdiction. Riparian habitat is still intact there. Bank erosion during high water flows or increased velocity is a concern of the Regional Water Quality Control Board which monitors water quality.

With only 100 or so threatened south-central California steelhead trout left in the Pajaro River, National Marine Fisheries Service and California Department of Fish and Game are mandated to protect this species from extinction. While the steelhead do not spawn in the Corpsās flood project area, fry, smolts, and adults are present at overlapping times most of the year except the driest part of the summer. Adults migrate to spawning areas in tributaries of three counties Santa Clara (Llagas and Uvas/Carnadero Creeks), Santa Cruz (Corralitos Creek), and San Benito (Pescadero and Tres Pinos Creeks).

Because adults are swimming against a current, they require resting pools. If the stream velocity is 7 feet per second, resting areas are required every 50 feet. A meandering river will provide these necessary pools on the inside of every curve. At 1 - 2 years, smolt begin migrating to the ocean. They need a low flow channel with a minimum depth of 6 - 9 inches, a temperature less than 65 degrees F, and hiding places from predators. Vegetation plays a major role in providing for these life cycle needs by: creating slack water and eddies during high flow, furnishing cover and hiding places, and by moderating the stream temperature.

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