I’ve heard that a lot of streams in the Santa Monica Mountains have dams or obstructions that are no longer used. How does this effect fish migration and behavior?

And how successful have attempts to clear these dams and obstructions been?



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    Mysterious fish die-offs in waterways of the Santa Monica Mountains occurred in 2006 and again in 2009. Not just fish, but all visible marine life in Malibu Creek died suddenly in the 2006 incident. The creek contains an endangered species of California steelhead trout, whose numbers declined precipitously in the 20th century about the time Rindge Dam was constructed. The location of dams is relevant to fish ecosystems because they can tend to limit their habitat, such as in the case of steelhead, who, like salmon, live primarily in the ocean but return to their home streams to spawn. Rindge Dam, built in 1924, may or may not be the cause of the steelhead decline, and there is some controversy over whether the trout were native to Malibu Creek or were artificially introduced by stocking in the 1920s. The dam, originally built to generate water for residential and grazing use, is silted over and was decommissioned in 1967. The Army Corps of Engineers believes removal of the dam would open Malibu Creek as habitat to the trout and other species. Although plans to remove the dam moved forward, they are now evidently on hold due to funding issues within the California state parks system, and it is unclear whether Rindge Dam will in fact be removed, and if so, where the costs for removal will come from.

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