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The Steelhead Superhighway is Open – 2020 Edition

As most of the Monterey Peninsula knows, the steelhead trout is a threatened species and one of the reasons the amount of water in the over-drafted Carmel River is so critical. With this season’s rainfall, the river is flowing normally and is thereby allowing Mother Nature’s Steelhead Superhighway to increase its traffic.

Adult Steelhead swim up the river to spawn; laying their eggs in the clean gravel found in fast moving water.











Then, Juvenile Steelhead swim down the river and through the Carmel Lagoon to the Pacific Ocean where they mature to then continue the cycle.

 

Over the next one to two summers, juvenile steelhead grow strong, then change into smolts as they swim down the river and through the Carmel Lagoon to the Pacific Ocean where they mature into large, silver-colored adults before returning to the Carmel River to continue the cycle.

Sometimes though, Mother Nature’s power erodes the stream banks of the river. This erosion can threaten homes and infrastructure. When MPWMD must stabilize a streambank, it strives to incorporate steelhead habitat features such as large wood and rootwads.

Storm damage from the previous winter shows erosion and trees collapsing into the river. If left unchecked, this erosion could propagate downstream and threaten homes.

During the dry summer months, MPWMD staff and contractors worked to stabilize the bank

The finished project included a cribwall planted with willows and black cottonwoods, as well as five rootwads to help improve steelhead habitat.

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