This is the season Steelhead (and hopefully Coho) swim upstream to the reach where they spawned so they can create a new generation of fish. Nature has a wonderful way of keeping the streams flowing and clear of debris so this cycle continues. Unfortunately, the cycle can be disrupted by a variety of events. Sometimes weak winter storm flows aren’t strong enough to clear fallen trees or branches and create a passage. Other times human beings interfere with the natural process.
It’s a time-honored tradition for young folks to play in the creek; skip stones, wade in the water, swim in the pools, and build dams. Thankfully most of these activities are not too disruptive to the ecosystem, but creating and leaving dams or obstructions in the flow are extremely harmful. This is especially true in “low flow” situations such as we’re experiencing this year. There’s hardly enough water in many places for these beautiful 20” – 24” fish to struggle upstream from the ocean to their birthplace, and they can be completely stopped by any barriers.
Artificial dams have been a recurring issue in the stretch of La Honda Creek flowing past the Playbowl area. It’s not surprising this is a popular place to play and hang out. It’s a natural get-away for adults and youngsters alike. The volunteers from SGERC (San Gregorio Environmental Resource Center) that monitor the stream systems in the San Gregorio watershed have often had to break up artificial dams in the flow which can be just an inch or two deep some years. We’d like to get the word out to parents and young people about the importance of keeping the flow going! If you move rocks around in the stream (not a great idea for many reasons), be sure to remove any barriers before you leave the area.
This is a great opportunity to enlighten your friends, students, neighbors, and children about how they can help keep our environment healthy, and how innocent actions can sometimes create a significant threat to our wildlife.
With gratitude from the fish and the community volunteers of SGERC.
(Also published in The La Honda Voice, May 2021.)
Protecting the San Gregorio Watershed.