Steelhead facts


I would like to correct several misconceptions put forward in your recent article about steelhead and Rindge Dam. No, the water in Malibu Creek is not too polluted for steelhead to survive. A small population survives downstream from Rindge Dam. Their numbers are limited because they have very little accessible habitat.

Yes, steelhead are native here. The species evolved in what is now Northwest Mexico and Southern California. Steelhead populations were documented in all of our major streams well before any planting or stocking programs began.

No, hatchery fish are not equivalent to native fish. DNA subtleties give fish specialized sizes, shapes, and behaviors that make them well-suited for specific habitat conditions. Hatchery fish are bred to grow quickly and to be easy to catch. They generally have very short life spans once released. Any hatchery fish that may have been released into Malibu Creek in the past are long gone.

Yes, steelhead lived upstream from Rindge Dam prior to its construction. Documented sightings include a California Department of Fish and Game Warden issuing a citation to someone for catching a steelhead out of season in Cold Creek.

No, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is not spending $2 million to find out if removing Rindge Dam would help steelhead populations. The Corps is developing a plan for removing the dam. This must be done carefully considering that it impounds 600,000 cubic yards of saturated sediment perched a short distance upstream from Malibu Colony. Excellent steelhead habitat is well-documented upstream from the dam, and information to that effect was provided to the Corps at no charge.

Matt Horns

Santa Monica