How Removing 81 Dams Is Helping Save Endangered S. California Steelhead

Photo: Julie Donnell, USFS

Deep in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest, US Forest Service workers are in the process of drastically improving the Forest’s creeks and streams. The aim of the project is to remove over 80 small dams, creating more room for natural fish movement upstream into the depths of the wilderness. Countless native fish species use the forest’s creeks and streams for year-round habitation or for spawning runs, like the currently endangered Southern California Steelhead. Yep, you read that right, although small in numbers steelhead run in creeks and rivers between San Diego and LA.

The project is managed by the US Forestry Service and work is being done in part by members of the US Marine Corps.

Currently, there are countless movements aimed at the removal of dams to free the rivers that they impound, like the Snake River Dams. But instead of removing a single, large dam, this project aims to remove dozens of low head dams.

From The Revelator:

“Looking at what the Forest Service did is a really smart way for other agencies to begin to think about their infrastructure,” says Serena McClain, the director of river restoration at the nonprofit American Rivers, which tracks dam-removal efforts. “The Forest Service is showing that the federal government can lead on this and demonstrate the possibility for the private sector and municipalities.”

To read more about the project, check out this in-depth article from The Revelator!

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