The National Marine Fisheries Service needs to hear from you in support of expanded Endangered Species Act protections for steelhead trout in southern California.

Responding to a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the Fisheries Service in December proposed to extend ESA protection for the southernmost population of steelhead trout in North America from Malibu Creek in Los Angeles County south to San Mateo Creek in San Diego County. The proposal is a step in the right direction, but still does not provide protection to important steelhead populations and habitat upstream of dams and in several prime San Diego County streams, many located on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

by Alex Vejar, Dept. Fish & GameSteelhead are a unique form of rainbow trout. Like salmon, they spent most of their adult life in the ocean, but spawn in freshwater streams and rivers. Tens of thousands of the prized sport fish used to return to southern California streams every year. Dams, urban development, and livestock grazing have decimated steelhead runs and today only a few hundred fish make the yearly pilgrimage. Studies conducted by the Fisheries Service's own biologists and independent scientists demonstrate the importance of spawning habitat upstream of dams and south of San Mateo Creek.

Please send a letter to the Fisheries Service before March 22 addressing the following points.

  • Thank the Fisheries Service for proposing to extend Endangered Species Act protections for southern steelhead south of Los Angeles.

  • The Fisheries Service should extend ESA protections to the southern edge of the species in northern Baja and not just to San Mateo Creek in northern San Diego County.

  • The Fisheries Service should extend ESA protections to southern steelhead/rainbow trout above dams throughout the range of the species.

  • The Fihseries Service should designate critical habitat for southern steelhead upstream of dams, along San Mateo Creek and in other Orange and San Diego County streams.

Please also attend the public hearing now scheduled in San Clemente on March 12, 6-9pm, 100 N Calle Seville. Mail or fax your comments to:

Assistant Regional Administrator
Protected Resources Division
National Marine Fisheries Service
Southwest Region
501 West Ocean Blvd. Suite 4200
Long Beach CA 90802-4213
FAX (562) 980-4027

graphic Andrew Rodman ©2002
July 3, 2003
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