Our East Bay and Sacramento Valley watersheds aren't what they used to be... but you can help us change that
Our Conservation Committee is very active in the local community reaching out to key watershed and fisheries stakeholders in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and beyond in parts of the Sacramento Valley. Our approach is collaborative and hands-on. We're working with local open space districts, park and water agencies, conservation groups, fishing groups, educators, academics and county, state and federal agencies to assess and prioritize which watersheds need our help the most.
Drop us a note to join our Conservation Committee or simply to lend a hand in our projects. Check back here regularly to see what we're up to, we'll be adding info on all of our projects to keep you updated. We're also posting on important water and fisheries issues, chapter activities and our local partners' projects in our Blog, News and Calendar sections and on our social media sites, so be sure to check them out as well. There's a lot of great work going on that you can get involved in.
Together we can make a difference
CEMAR developed the following report in 2007:
In consultation with staff from the Coastal Conservancy, the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration (CEMAR) has developed an intuitive, information-based approach to identifying the critical steelhead reesources in the region. Our approach involves "screening" Bay Area watersheds using five criteria to identify the most important areas in which to focus restoration efforts. This report seeks to direct attention to a set of projects, policies and future investigations we consider essential elements of a regional restoration strategy.
This report assembles for the first time all readily available information regarding steelhead habitat in tributaries of the San Francisco Estuary. Watersheds are screened for "anchor watershed" status, indicating their relative importance in restoring the regional steelhead population. Also, we evaluated the tributaries of the anchor watershed to produce a list of essential streams in which promising restoration opportunities are identified. The report includes text and maps.
The full text of the report can be viewed on the CEMAR website and downloaded:
historical distribution of coho salmon the bay Area
by Leidy, R.A., G. Becker, and B.N. Harvey. 2005. Historical Status of Coho Salmon in Streams of the Urbanized San Francisco Estuary, California. California Fish and Game 91(4): 219-254.
Alameda Creek Watershed
Alameda Creek Alliance - partner website
ACA & Partners Restoration Projects
Alameda Creek Fisheries Workgroup
map of the watershed
Historical Distribution of Steelhead Trout - CEMAR report 2005
An Assessment for the Potential for Restoring a Viable Steelhead Trout Population in the Alameda Creek Watershed (Gunther et al. 2000) identified that:
• Adult steelhead (approximately 20-28 inches) will migrate upstream to spawn in Alameda Creek and its tributaries between November and April, with the majority of in-migration occurring between December and March.
• Juvenile steelhead will inhabit Alameda Creek and its tributaries from one to four years before migrating to the ocean as smolts, usually between April and June or during the first rains of the fall.
• Steelhead will spawn at depths of 0.3 to 5.0 feet, current velocities of 0.75 to 5 feet per second, and in gravel of 6.4 to 127 millimeters in diameter
• Steelhead in the San Francisco Bay area often use intermittent streams for spawning and rearing.
ALAMEDA CREEK POPULATION RECOVERY STRATEGIES AND INSTREAM FLOW ASSESSMENT FOR STEELHEAD TROUT - Prepared for: Alameda Creek Fisheries Restoration Workgroup January 2008 by McBain & Trush, Inc.
Stonybrook Creek Watershed - A Strategic Plan for Eliminating Barriers to Steelhead Migration - Prepared for: Alameda Creek Fisheries Restoration Workgroup June 2010 by Michael Love and Associates
contra costa county watersheds
Contra Costa Watershed Atlas - ( this has 152 pages of details, slow to open due to size)
Contra Costa Watershed Forum
Contra Costa Historical Ecology
Historical Distribution of Steelhead Trout - CEMAR report 2005
Maps of the Watershed - Contra Costa RCD website
Historical Distribution of Salmon and Steelhead - Jim Hale
Walnut Creek Watershed Council 2015 report
East Contra Costa HCP
photos by Dave Roche
Putah Creek Restoration Project
The watershed of Putah Creek begins in the Coast Ranges at Cobb Mountain in Lake County at an elevation of 4,700 feet, and flows down to the Central Valley where it empties into the Yolo Bypass near sea level. Putah Creek is the southernmost major drainage entering the Sacramento Valley from the west. The Putah Creek watershed is defined by two sub-basins, the lower and upper Putah Creek watersheds.
Lower Putah Creek is located in the southwestern corner of the Sacramento Valley and flows 26 miles across the valley floor from the Putah Diversion Dam to the Toe Drain in the Yolo Bypass. Putah Diversion Dam is a reregulating reservoir below Monticello Dam. The upper Putah Creek subbasin is defined by the portion of the watershed located upstream of Monticello Dam, which forms Lake Berryessa. Lake Berryessa captures runoff from 90 percent of the watershed. The
upper watershed occupies about 600 square miles within the Coast Ranges.
The John Muir Chapter is working with Putah Creek Trout, Grizzly Peak Fly Fishers, Diablo Valley Fly Fishers, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on a Habitat Restoration Project in the 4.5 mile Inter-dam reach of Putah Creek between Lake Berryessa and Lake Solano. Putah Creek is a regionally famous tailwater fishery due to its production of large wild, native rainbow trout, challenging fishing and proximity to the major metro areas of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento.
Putah Creek originates from springs on the east side of Cobb Mountain in Lake county, Ca, and is joined by several tributaries draining approximately 560 square miles of watershed. Before Monticello Dam was built (1953-1957), steelhead and salmon migrated up the tributaries to spawn. Large numbers of Chinook Salmon (> 1,000 in 2016/17 season) currently spawn below the dam at Lake Solano.
Precipitation during the 2016/17 winter was the largest ever recorded in California, and releases from Lake Berryessa that feed Putah Creek were at flood stage (peaking at >8,000 cfs) for multiple months; devastating the existing habitat. In response Putah Creek Trout, in association with the John Muir Chapter of TU and other stakeholders, is proposing to conduct the Putah Creek Wild Trout Section Habitat Restoration Project.
The primary goals of the project are to, 1) Protect, Restore and Improve the outstanding tailwaters of Putah Creek to better support wild native rainbow trout, 2) Increase tourist revenue and value to the local community by improving recreational angler access to the creek 3) Create educational opportunities to engage youth and the broader community in Angler Science, Watershed Science and Conservation 4) Sustain and Expand the brands and chapter membership of Trout Unlimited and our partner Putah Creek Trout through volunteer hands-on restoration work, effective communication and marketing, and 5) Build partnerships, organizational capability and conservation community leadership for the John Muir Chapter of Trout Unlimited.
The John Muir Chapter of Trout Unlimited is requesting funding from Trout Unlimited’s Embrace-A-Stream Program to help fund the Project.
Steelhead and Wild Trout
According to our Conservation partner, Putah Creek Trout: "The Heritage and Wild Trout Program (HWTP) of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife designated the 4.7 mile Putah Creek Interdam Reach (IDR) as a Wild Trout water in 2014, and added Lake Solano in 2015. A wild trout is one that was born in the wild and completes its life cycle in the wild, regardless of the origin of its parents. Thus, a wild trout can be either native or non-native. The rainbow trout in Putah are clearly wild. The question is…are they native also? Many people believe that the wild trout in the interdam are the result of fingerling trout that were planted. Transplanted or stocked non-native trout can acclimate to a stream or lake and successfully establish naturally-reproducing, self-sustaining populations. However, it is possible that steelhead trapped in the interdam may have reproduced leading to a resident rainbow population. Thus, it is possible that Putah has native coastal rainbow trout present." See Putah Creek Trout's website for more details.
Putah Creek Trout - partner website:
Trout Unlimited is working to support PCT's efforts to restore and protect critical spawning habitat and water flows for wild trout in the Interdam Reach.
See this link to the background story "Putah Creek Legacy":
For maps and links to information on the east bay watersheds, see the following Links from The Oakland Museum of California Creek and Watershed Information Source
West Contra Costa County
East Contra Costa County
Alameda Creek Watershed
Oakland & Berkeley Creeks
Hayward & San Leandro Creeks
Steelhead Restoration Potential
Barriers to Migration in the East Bay
Cleugh and McKnight (2002) Steelhead Migration Barrier Survey in San Francisco Bay Creeks