Upper Left: Juvenile Coho Salmon and Steelhead Trout, NPS photo 
Upper Right Steelhead Trout Smolt, NPS photo
Bottom: Steelhead Trout Spawner, NPS photo

Since the late 1940s, Southern California steelhead trout populations have declined the most of all of California’s distinct populations. Once populous in a number of creeks in the Santa Monica Mountains including Big Sycamore, Arrroyo Sequit, Zuma, Malibu, Solstice and Topanga Creeks, today, only a small number spawn in Arroyo Sequit and Malibu creeks. With less than 500 adults estimated remain in the wild, in August 1997, the National Marines Fisheries Service declared the southern steelhead trout as an endangered species.

Steelhead trout are threatened by barriers to migration (e.g. dams, roads and culverts), degraded or loss of habitat, and land use practices such as development, grazing and agriculture.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area have been working with numerous federal, state, local partners, and the general public to remove or modify barriers to migrating steelhead trout. In Solstice Canyon, highway culverts, Arizona crossings and human-made ponds that block passage of steelhead moving up and down stream have been removed or modified. In Malibu Creek, the key to restoration is providing access to habitat above Rindge Dam, a 102-foot high impediment about 2.5 miles upstream from the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and California Department of Parks and Recreation are cooperating on the Malibu Creek Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study to evaluate the impacts of five alternatives on recovery of steelhead in Malibu Creek and the beneficial use of accumulated sediment stored behind the dam.