Santa Barbara Flyfishers' Forums
>> >> Piru Creek in danger!

Message started by Forum Admin on Feb 9th, 2007, 11:19am

Title: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Forum Admin on Feb 9th, 2007, 11:19am

The reason given for drying up Piru Creek was to save a toad. There was no mention of the endangered species of fish that live there. Folks, they don't care about toads or fish! It's all about the water, and it has been since William Mulholland and Frederick Eaton "acquired" the water from the Owens valley over 100 years ago!

The California Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board have a plan to dry up Piru Creek. Many organizations and people like yourself have expressed their feelings regarding this action that would not only end the recreational fishing opportunities but would devastate an endangered steelhead ancestral strain that still lives and spawns in Piru Creek (scientific studies have been conducted to support the genetic existence of these trout.)

The agencies involved will be sponsoring an all-day meeting in Ventura next week on February 14th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the:

Ventura Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
2493 Portola Road, Suite B
Ventura, CA 93003

* MAP * (

If you can attend, RSVP: Dan Peterson of the Department of Water Resources

In addition, make your feelings felt to your State Senators and Assembly Members. Find Their contact information here:

Jim Blomquist of Friends of the River recommends contacting the following California officials:

Assembly Members Strickland, Levine, Smyth, Nava, Portantino & Brownley

State Senators McClintock, Runner, Padilla, Scott and Kuehl

Here's your federal representation:

The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Constitution Ave. & 2nd St. NE
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: 202-224-3553, No fax
SF Office: 1700 Montegomery St., Suite 240, 94111
Fax: 415-956-6701, Tel: 415-403-0100

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Constitution Ave. & 2nd St. NE
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: 202-224-3553, Fax: 202-228-3954
SF Office: One Post St., Suite 2450, 94104
Fax: 202-228-3954, Tel: 415-393-0707

Congressional representatives from California:

Note that: Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, Senator George Runner and U.S. Congressman Buck McKeon wrote to the agencies in October urging them to develop alternatives to the plan to dry up the river.

Title: Re: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Forum Admin on Feb 20th, 2007, 7:40am

The Meeting

I attended expecting it to be a fact finding, solution seeking meeting. Instead it was an announcement of the plan of the DWR. While I did learn some facts the meeting raised many questions with very few answers. I would like to say the meeting was productive, but it was not!

Instead of seeking a solution to properly manage the situation at Piru Creek, there was an announcement that the DWR was seeking an amendment to the mitigation that was required for them to build the dam in the first place. This mitigation required releases of water sufficient to maintain the fishery and other recreation opportunities that Piru Creek (between Pyramid Dam and Piru reservoir) provides to the public. These are part of the requirements that dam operators (DWR in this case) must agree to before they can build a dam. It is designed to protect the resource.

The Problem

The US Fish & Wildlife Service in their efforts to protect an endangered species living in the canyon, the Arroyo Toad, has determined that the release of water during certain times of the year from Pyramid Dam may be taking (harming, killing, etc.) the toad. This could be a finable offense for the DWR and they are asking to have the mitigation changed so they can stop releasing water in the late summer months which would dry up the creek. This is the release of water that has protected the fishery and public recreation and is in compliance with the mitigation for building the dam.

The Other Problem:

While the toad is an endangered species the fish, the rainbow trout that live in the stream are genetically related to another endangered species (Steelhead.) The catch to that, and the reason that the toad trumps the trout is that the steelhead that are above a dam (in this case Piru Dam) and that separates them from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The "solution?" as announced by DWR

The DWR proposes to simulate natural flows of the creek which would be determined buy letting out as much water as flows in. This is determined by two gauging stations and a fudge factor. It is an accepted fact that these calculated natural flows are not taking into account factors such as water removed from the flow regime by water rights above Pyramid and possible other factors. It is also a fact that true naturals flows such as scouring can not be replicated by the dam with releases.

It should be noted that the toads had a remarkable recovery in 2005. It that year, a very wet year, the creek had a major scouring which is a natural process that is also beneficial to the toad's survival. In 2005 the creek did not dry up, the flows where maintained as required by the mitigation.

My Feelings

While the water releases may be one factor in the toads well being there are several others that are threatening the toad, lack of natural scouring, predation and others. None of these other, perhaps more pertinent factors are being addressed. There have been no studies conducted to determine what is the best approach to help the toad recover and if a plan can be devised that would not only be beneficial to the toad but not harm the trout and the recreational resource. Nothing else is being considered. It would seem reasonable to conduct scientific studies to determine what is the best approach to not only saving the toad and not take premature actions that could be ineffective and not in the best interests of the toad and the other native inhabitants as well as the recreational resource.

I felt that all those attending the meeting, Friends of the River, Cal Trout, Department of Fish & Game, several fly fishing clubs and other interested parties left feeling very frustrated; I know I did.

Title: Re: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Forum Admin on Feb 20th, 2007, 7:55am

Here's something interesting regarding extending the protection of the Endangered Species Act to Steelhead trapped above dams. Something like this could save Piru but it would have to include Piru Creek. At this time they are only talking about Malibu Creek South.

I for one will contact this group and ask about that!

Title: Re: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Lew_Riffle on Feb 20th, 2007, 8:39am

Joe there is also a rather lenghty memo from Noaa/swf (Boughton et al #394)group out of UC SAnta Cruz with Craig Fusaro a co-author which has included resident fish and thier abilit to retain native habit(ie steelhead traits) amd specifcall mentions Piru Creek below Pyramid.  I am presently pursuing opinion on this to see if it can help.   LEW

Title: Re: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Forum Admin on Mar 23rd, 2007, 3:15pm

This is from Jim Blomquist, Friends of the River regarding Piru Creek:

"Dear Friends of Piru Creek,

Early in March the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an environmental analysis of DWR's plan to shut off the water flowing to Piru Creek each summer.  As you know DWR's plan will have a disastrous impact on recreational users of Piru Creek, especially trout anglers.  Not surprisingly, FERC found that DWR's plan would not have significant adverse effects.

It is extremely important that FERC receive a large number of comment letters from those who who use the creek, especially trout anglers.  This may be the last time that the public will be asked to comment on DWR's plan.  It is very likely that the California Water Resources Control Board, which also needs to give the go ahead for this project to be permanently implemented will use the FERC comments as the "public record" for its decision.

Thus it is doubly important for anglers to send in written comments.

I urge all of you that are a member of an angling club to personally work with your membership to insure that each of them write a personal comment letter against this project.  My experience tells me that it is not enough simply to ask people in an email or on a message board to write a letter, it often requires personal followup with each individual.  This is "put up or shut up" time.  Either we demonstrate that the informed public is against this plan of DWR or we learn to accept it.

Comment letters must be filed by April 30th.  As a practical matter, you should assume that they must be in FERC's hands on that date to be included in the record. Thus the real deadline for letters to be mailed is probably April 25th.  All letters must include this reference to the project: "California Aqueduct Project No. 2426-197" or FERC may simply not accept the letter as a comment on the project.  It is possible to send FERC an "electronic filing" but you must register on their website.  I do not recommend that we ask people to use that system as it is cumbersome and might frustrate the less computer savvy.

In the next few days Friends of the River will be sending out an alert with a special link to a webpage at its website ( that will allow people to generate letters to FERC that FOR will mail to FERC before the deadline.  The site will have additional details about the shortcomings of the project and what you should say in your letters.  It will also have a sample letter that you can use and modify when preparing your comments on this project.

You can also send a letter directly to:

Magalie R. Salas, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E., Room 1-A
Washington, DC 20426  

Again, make sure that the letter references "California Aqueduct Project No. 2426-197”

Here are the points that Friends of the River encourages you to include in your letter:

1. Note that the DWR plan to reduce augmented summer flows in Piru Creek will harm trout fishing and other recreational uses, as well as other fish and wildlife species, especially considering that Section 5937 of California Fish and Game Code requires all dam owners to release sufficient water downstream to keep fish healthy.

2. Urge FERC and DWR to consider an alternative flow regime that releases flushing flows in the winter to renew the downstream aquatic ecosystem, while maintaining augmented summer flows for recreation and other wildlife species.

3. Ask FERC how it intends to approve a license amendment for a hydro project upstream of a congressionally designated Wild & Scenic Study River that will have a direct and adverse effect on and will likely diminish the outstanding natural values of Piru Creek.

The best letter is one that makes these points in the author's own words and refers to their experiences at Piru Creek.  The best letter is hand-written or produced on a word-processor but is personally-signed by the writer.  The best letter is mailed individually in its own envelope and, of course, is at FERC's office in Washington, DC by April 30th.

Before I leave you I wanted to share with you just one sentence from the environmental report.  Just when I've grown tired of hearing every proponent of this project tell me how great it will be for the arroyo toad, a federal endangered species, I found this comment from FERC on page 8:

"We find that the proposed project would not likely adversely affect the arroyo toad, would likely adversely affect the California red-legged frog, least Bell’s vireo, and southwestern willow flycatcher, and would have no effect on the California condor."

So while the project is supposedly good for the arroyo toad, it will likely harm three other endangered species!  

And it is important to note that this stretch of Piru Creek is not "critical habitat" (the Fish and Wildlife Service's determination of the most important habitat for an endangered species) for the arroyo toad.  But Piru Creek is "critical habitat" for the red-legged frog!  As they say, "Go figure."

Thanks for all your help,

-- Jim Blomquist, Friends of the River"

Here is a direct link to the draft environmental assessment (draft EA) for the project.

Title: Re: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Forum Admin on Mar 28th, 2007, 3:05pm

These are letters that were sent by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to the Department of Water Resources regarding the subject project. These are letters that date back to April of 2002:

Title: Re: Piru Creek in danger!
Post by Forum Admin on Apr 4th, 2007, 10:09pm

Here is some more information from the Friends of the River web site. Some of it may be repetitious but it's still worth a read:

More Information (

The following is a very important link because it will help you generate a letter to the proper authority and send it with the click of a button. It has a letter all ready to send with the proper project number (do not remove that), just add to or change it to your own words and feelings, add your name and address. When your ready just click the button, what could be easier?

* Click here to send letter (

This letter must be sent before the end of the month; so don't wait, do it now!

Note: Any correspondence concerning this must contain the reference:
California Aqueduct Project No. 2426-197

Santa Barbara Flyfishers' Forums » Powered by YaBB 2.1!
YaBB © 2000-2005. All Rights Reserved.