Bradbury Dam is believed to be primarily responsible for decimation
of the Santa Ynez River steelhead run. Once numbering around
30,000 spawners, only 17 spawners were counted in 2008,
and none in 2009. Photo courtesy Brian Trautwein.
EDC is fighting to restore a healthy steelhead population in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez River.

The Santa Ynez River once supported a thriving steelhead population. Construction and operation of three dams, including Bradbury Dam – erected by the 1950s to supply water to Santa Barbara County’s towns and farms – has decimated the Santa Ynez River steelhead. These dams have cut off steelhead access to the ocean, access to historic spawning and rearing habitat, and have drastically altered and reduced water flow throughout the watershed.

To help turn this situation around, EDC is representing California Trout in proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board.  We have asked the Water Board to modify the water release schedule from Bradbury Dam into the lower Santa Ynez River to improve conditions for steelhead downstream from the dam. We have also asked the Water Board to facilitate steelhead passage around Bradbury Dam. Passage is necessary so that fish above the Dam can reach the ocean and fish below the Dam can reach the best spawning and rearing habitat available in the river.

Excellent habitat awaits steelhead above Bradbury Dam.
Let the steelhead go home! Photo by Craig Fusaro, CalTrout.

The California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service are also participating in the Water Board process to support the restoration of steelhead in the Santa Ynez River. Read in-depth news coverage here about these historic proceedings.

EDC is poised to respond to the still pending final decision from the Water Board, and we continue to monitor the status of steelhead in the Santa Ynez River. Click here to keep an eye on the State Water Resources Control Board proceedings and to see EDC’s and other parties’ submissions.

Conserve Water – Save Steelhead
The Santa Ynez River supports not just steelhead, but urban and agricultural water needs for the County of Santa Barbara. With some simple conservation measures, there’s more than enough water to go around. The Pacific Institute, experts in sustainable water use, found that five major water districts relying on Cachuma Reservoir could implement existing, cost-effective conservation measures and reduce the amount of water withdrawn from the river without a loss of service or quality of life. Read the Pacific Institute’s detailed analyses here:

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