About Recovery Planning in South-Central/Southern California's Coast

South-Central California Coast steelhead and  Southern California Coast steelhead were listed as threatened and endangered species, respectively, in 2006. Upon their listings, NOAA Fisheries divided recovery planning into two distinct phases: 1. development of a scientific foundation for recovery, led by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center; and 2. development of the recovery plans themselves, led by NOAA Fisheries' Regional Office.

For phase one, NOAA Fisheries appointed a technical recovery team (TRT) in 2002. The TRT was tasked with characterizing the historic and current population structure of each species and developing a set of scientifically-based viability criteria. The results of the TRT's investigations were published in a series of Technical Memoranda between 2005 and 2010.

For phase two, NOAA Fisheries used the recommendations of the TRT to develop two recovery plans: one for South-Central California Coast steelhead and one for Southern California Coast Steelhead. We also conducted a threats assessment and developed a series of recovery actions in collaboration with public co-managers and private stakeholders. We assessed current and emerging threats to the species' persistence and recovery in a set of watersheds using The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Action Planning method.

The principal goal of each recovery plan is to recover South-Central California Coast steelhead and Southern California Coast steelhead to self-sustaining levels. A secondary goal is to re-establish a sustainable steelhead sport fishery. Many of the recovery actions address watershed-wide processes that will benefit a wide variety of native species (including other state and federally listed species, or species of special concern). Restoration of steelhead habitats in coastal watersheds provides substantial benefits for human communities. These include things such as improving and protecting the water quality of surface and groundwater supplies, reducing damage from periodic flooding resulting from floodplain development, and controlling invasive species that can threaten water supplies and increase flooding risks. Restoring watersheds also enhances important human uses, such as outdoor recreation, environmental education, and the preservation of tribal and cultural heritage values, among others.

Recovering South-Central California Coast steelhead and Southern California Coast steelhead will require a shift in societal attitudes, understanding, priorities, and practices. Many of the current land and water use practices that are detrimental to steelhead are not sustainable. Modification of these practices is necessary to both continue to meet the needs of the human communities of South‐Central California and restore the habitats upon which steelhead depend. Implementation of the recovery plans is dependent on the active participation and cooperation of a variety of local, state, and federal partners, including private landowners and non-governmental organizations, working at the community and regional level.