Tuesday, May 31 , 2016, 6:39 am | Fog/Mist 57º

Captain’s Log: San Jose Creek Critters Project Promises Good Things

Two-phase plan includes the building of a special channel for fish to run

By Capt. David Bacon, Noozhawk Columnist |

I’ve looked at the long run of pure concrete, in Goleta’s lower San Jose Creek, from the perspective of an adult steelhead and just shook my head. It amazes me that we have any steelhead at all because of shallow, rushing, unchecked water with no pools or other holding areas where a fish can catch its breath (pun intended).

It made me feel like a thirsty man standing at the edge of a vast desert that must be crossed on foot against gale-force dry winds to get to livesaving water. There is an imperceptible chance of making it, but all odds are against it.

That must be something like how a steelhead felt swimming up-current — and so exposed — through that concrete channel.

Once past it, however, the natural creek beyond is a dream. There are year-round pools and moving water where a steelhead might feel like it has a good spawning opportunity. It looks to me like a welcome destination for an anadroumous fish. I hike there and take my grandkids there to teach them about the wonders of nature.

Prospects for steelhead spawning up San Jose Creek are improving dramatically, thanks to a project under way to increase the storm runoff capacity of the creek and also build a special channel for fish to run.

It is a two-phase plan, and the first phase is under way. First comes widening and strengthening the channel and building the fish run. Then the second phase will replace the Hollister Avenue bridge over the creek.

Click here for the project website. From that website the fish-helping aspect of the project is described: “A low-flow fish passage channel will be installed on the east side of the flood control channel. The low-flow channel will facilitate the movement of endangered steelhead trout to their historical spawning grounds. ... The fish passage channel will continue to the north side of the (Hollister Ave.) bridge where it will them conform to the natural creek bottom approximately 80 feet north of the bridge.”

I am truly excited about what the project means for the future of the critters (including fish) of the San Jose Creek.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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