Steelhead and other fish species will now find it easier to pass through the section of Stevens Creek that runs by the Deep Cliff Golf Course in Cupertino. On October 24, 2022, contractors working for the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail completed a project to restore natural fish habitat and remove a concrete slab spanning the creek. The concrete had been a barrier to the upstream migration of juvenile steelhead trout, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Steve Powell, an environmental scientist who consulted on the project, explained, “The fish passage was designed with salmonids (particularly steelhead) in mind, but it will be important for the movements of all other fish species in the creek such as stickleback, minnows, and suckers. Allowing the fish access to more habitat allows them increased opportunity to locate suitable reproduction and feeding sites and maintain viable populations.” When fish were temporarily relocated during construction, numerous juvenile rainbow trout were found near the concrete slab, attesting to the importance of improving passage in this reach of the creek.
The completion reflects over 3 years of hard work and the collaboration of multiple agencies.
Richard McMurtry of the Santa Clara County Creeks Coalition came up with the idea for the project and was a technical consultant throughout its duration. He said, “Since my first conversation with the Friends over seven years ago, I have been impressed by their steadfast effort to bring this habitat improvement project to fruition.”
“It is hoped that this project contributes to ongoing efforts to restore a self-sustaining population of steelhead trout in the Stevens Creek Watershed,” said Rajiv Mathur, Executive Director of the Friends.
The project was made possible by generous contributions from numerous private and public agencies: Santa Clara Valley Water District (Valley Water), Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Cities of Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Los Altos, Santa Clara County, Deep Cliff Golf Course, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Google, Inc., Guadalupe Coyote Resources Conservation District, and Los Altos Community Foundation.