Conservation News

Volunteers needed for Soquel Lagoon water sampling

The Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project is assisting Don Alley in stream studies for the County of Santa Cruz. Don could use 6 volunteers for the Sundays of October 8th & 15th.
Per Don “Meet at the Stockton Bridge at 8:30 am." The complete activity goes until about 2:30 pm. Folks can cycle through as they wish.
Many juveniles have been observed feeding on the surface in the lagoon this year. I have seen large yearlings occasionally hit the surface, too. Mergansers are still present, indicating that they have a decent food source. The lagoon is deeper and cooler this year. It could be exciting if there is a good sized steelhead population.” Necessary gear includes waders and recommended polarized sun glasses, and you should bring water to drink and your lunch.
If you would like to volunteer or have questions, send an email to Seth Bowman with MBSTP
The heart of our club is conservation, so if your personal schedule permits, and you'd like to get some real hands-on experience maintaining our watershed, consider this a great opportunity and volunteer!

2017 Corralitos Creek Steelhead Rescue
by Sam Bishop

The lower reaches of Corralitos Creek were drying up by August 7th. Already long stretches were dry with small pockets of clear water, some pools were already dead due to heat and lack of oxygen, but most were still alive with small steelhead, stickleback, sculpin, suckers and crawdads. Our goal was to relocate as many of the steelhead as possible to the upper reaches of California Creek, where the water flows year round. (It is against the law to relocate the fish to a different watershed.)

Two years ago there was what many of us consider a disaster on Bean Creek. Thousands of steelhead were trapped in a stretch of the creek that was drying up. There was plenty of time to rescue and relocate them, but the process was not in place and partly because the steelhead is an endangered species, they could not be relocated without approval by a few government agencies (NOAA and CDFW). It took a month to get approval and by them all the fish were dead. No one wants that catastrophe to happen again.
A team was assembled, headed by Kristen Kittleson-Santa Cruz County, Jon Jankowitz-California Fish and Wildlife, Chuck Backman and Seth Bowman-Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. The team consisted of the above, plus several volunteers. We assembled near Corralitos Market, got our instructions and divided into teams, (1) Rescue electroshock, net and put fish into buckets, transport to the holding trucks, (2) Holding truck team, receiving the fish, counting and ensuring that the tanks were aerated, (3) Relocation team, hauling the fish in the truck up to locations like the Varni Bridge and releasing the fish.
Slowly and methodically, Jon and his assistant, Kyle, would use electroshock (looks like Ghostbusters) device to ferret the fish out from under woody and rocky cover. They, plus a couple of other volunteers would net the fish and put them into buckets with aerators, which others of us carried. It was a very rocky streambed, criss-crossed with fallen trees and saturated everywhere with poison oak, so caution was the order of the day. There was only one temporary casualty and that was when I punctured the top of my head through my cap, while going under one of those fallen trees. But at this writing, I don't know if I or anyone else caught the dreaded poison oak affliction. I know my clothes were going straight to the washing machine that night.
Along the way in the streambed we met a local lady who told us this long dry stretch we were on at that moment had been flowing nicely only seven days before. In fact, she pointed upstream to where it had been flowing only two days before, so it was clear we could not have waited any longer.
The team with additional volunteers, including more SCFF members, was prepared to go out again the next day, but the stream had already dried up so much that we went much faster than expected and were able to finish up around 4 pm. I then adjourned to the Corralitos Brewery where I regaled the fellow imbibers about our heroic actions to save the steelhead! Got a free beer, too!

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