Creek project helps steelhead to spawning grounds in Pinole

PINOLE, Calif. (KGO) -- Monday marked the official ribbon cutting for the Pinole Creek Fish Passage Project.

The project is designed to essentially to reconnect the upper and lower watersheds help steelhead make their way from the ocean to a valuable spawning ground along the Pinole Creek, an area that until now has been a barricade for the threatened species.

It's a simple system - nearly twenty years in the making. It's a fish ladder that will finally give steelhead trout a clear path to nearly seven miles of natural spawning habitat.

"It's huge and it's not just this area, it's a regionally significant project for steelhead," said Carol Arnold with Friends of Pinole Creek Watershed.

"We've seen fish in various years get stuck below this structure and they spawn downstream which is not a good idea because the habitat is not suitable for them," explained Bert Mulchaey, an EBMUD biologist.

For decades, the threatened Central California Coast Steelhead would literally get stuck at a culvert, which runs beneath interstate 80.

"They would continue to their native spawning ground, but they would encounter these flat, 320 foot flat concrete structures, and as you can imagine, it would be very difficult for a fish to swim up that," said Ben Wallace with the Contra Costa Resource District.

Starting this winter, the steelhead will be able to make it through the culverts year round, no matter how high or low the flow.
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