On Tuesday, the Santa Barbara City Council will discuss and consider funding options for removal of large concrete flood control channels along Mission Creek. These channels are known as the “CalTrans Channels”, and are reportedly a significant barrier to upstream steelhead trout migration. According to the Agenda, “Removing these barriers will help provide access for steelhead trout to 3.9 miles of creek channel, which include two miles of moderate to high quality spawning and rearing habitat.”
The construction cost estimate for the fish passage modifications to the Lower Caltrans Channel is $4,200,000. The Creeks Division will be receiving $300,000 in grant funding through the State Coastal Conservancy. The remaining amount would be funded with a combination of $1.7 million in California Department of Fish and Wildlife grant funding, a $775,000 grant from the Wildlife Conservation Board, and Measure B matching funds.
Back to Tuesday’s Council Agenda… The purpose of the project is to improve steelhead trout migration in Mission Creek during and shortly after rain events when adequate natural stream flows exist. These efforts will contribute to local, regional, and federal objectives of removing migration barriers for the federally endangered steelhead trout. Mission Creek provides the best opportunity for steelhead trout restoration in the City of Santa Barbara. Mission Creek contains high quality spawning and rearing habitat within the stream channels in the mid and upper watershed. Currently, rainbow trout (freshwater version of steelhead trout) live in the upper stream channel and historically, Mission Creek supported a healthy steelhead trout population. Over the last ten years, there have been frequent sightings of steelhead trout attempting to migrate upstream without success due to barriers within the stream channel.