Making it Easier to Restore California


First Habitat Restoration Enhancement Act Project Complete! Upper Carpinteria Creek (Santa Barbara County)

The first project using the HRE Act was completed in 2015. This fish passage project, located on Upper Carpinteria Creek in Santa Barbara County, removed the final barrier on this waterway for Southern California steelhead to reach their historic spawning grounds. Originally a channelized stream with impassable barriers (concrete steps) and a narrow channel and bridge that accelerated streamflow, the project installed a higher bridge, a natural stream channel, and native vegetation.


Left: Mauricio Gomez of South Coast Habitat Restoration stands in Carpinteria Creek pre-construction. Center: Mauricio Gomez and Erik Schmidt of Sustainable Conservation stand in the completed site’s meandering stream channel, which slows currents and provides deep pools in which fish can rest on their journey upstream. Right: Carpinteria Creek flows beautifully and naturally through this fully restored site.


Our partners at South Coast Habitat Restoration led the project as a culmination of their decade-long effort to restore access to more than a mile of high-quality and rare habitat for Southern California steelhead that was off limits for more than 50 years. Completing the final link in the access chain for these struggling fish is no small accomplishment, and is a great model for the incremental change and improvement we need, and can achieve, to protect and improve vital habitats for our most imperiled animal and plant species.