The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has instituted a status review for the Southern California steelhead and requests data or comments on a petition to list the fish as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).
Southern California steelheads are found in streams from the Santa Maria River at the southern county line of San Luis Obispo County down to the U.S.-Mexico border. As defined in the CESA petition, Southern California steelhead includes anadromous (ocean-going) and resident (stream-dwelling) steelhead species with poor completion rates of migration in these streams.
Significant threats to Southern California steelhead include destruction, modification, and habitat fragmentation due to anthropogenic water use (dams or diversions to provide water for human use) and climate change impacts like increased stream temperatures and heightened drought conditions. Protecting the fish is important as the Southern California steelhead represents an important diversity component in California because of their unique adaptations, life histories, and genetics.
The Commission accepted the petition for consideration on April 21, 2021. On June 14, 2021, California Trout petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list Southern California steelhead as an endangered species under CESA. On May 13 of this year, the Commission provided public notice that the Southern California steelhead is now a candidate species under CESA and will receive the same legal protection afforded to an endangered or threatened species.
CDFW now invites data and comments on the petitioned action, including Southern California steelhead ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, the degree, and immediacy of threats to its reproduction or survival, the adequacy of existing management or recommendations for managing of the species. Data or comments can be submitted via email to SCSH@wildlife.ca.gov. The CDFW asks that you include “Southern California Steelhead” in the subject line. Submissions may also be sent to:
CDFW Fisheries Branch
Attn: Southern California Steelhead
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, California 94244-2090
Submissions must be received by Sept. 30. The CDFW has 12 months to review the petition, evaluate the best available scientific information relating to Southern California steelhead and make a recommendation to the Commission. The Commission will then place receipt of the report on the agenda for the next available Commission meeting. In addition, the report will be open to the public for that meeting, where the Commission will schedule the petition for further consideration.