Salmonid Restoration Federation
Recovery Strategies for Coastal Salmonids
March 19 - 22, 2014
Santa Barbara, California

Steelhead and Beaver Interactions Workshop and Tour to Santa Ynez River Projects

19 March 2014

Workshop Coordinator:
Tim Robinson, PhD, Cachuma Operation and Maintenance Board

Workshop Overview

The southern steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and the North American beaver (Castor canadensis) have co-existed in parts of the Southern California Steelhead Distinct Population Segment (DPS) specifically on the Lower Santa Ynez River (LSYR) since before southern steelhead were listed as endangered in 1997. Under question are whether beaver are native or introduced to this area and whether their existence in rivers supports steelhead recovery in a Mediterranean-like climate.

This workshop provided a half-day of presentations on the current state of steelhead and beaver within west coast watersheds. The focus of the presentations were on the interaction and co-habitation of the two species using examples from within and outside of the local DPS.  The workshop brought together beaver experts and fisheries biologists in the spirit of collaboration to shed light on this subject that is not well understood in Southern California. The afternoon was dedicated to going to the Santa Ynez River on a field tour to visit multiple sites where steelhead and beavers are present. Observations of the co-habitation of the two species within the LSYR and its tributaries were discussed in relation to steelhead migration of upstream adults and downstream smolts, alteration of spawning habitat due to the growing spatial extent of beaver pond formation, water quality within and outside of those ponds influencing steelhead rearing, and creation of favorable habitat for numerous aquatic non-native species within those ponds. Potential management strategies for steelhead and a growing population of beaver and other exotic species were discussed in the context of steelhead preservation, dam releases for steelhead migration and dry-season rearing, habitat restoration, and downstream water rights releases.


Evidence that the North American Beaver was Native to California's Coastal Watersheds
Rick Lanman, Institute for Historical Ecology

The Current Distribution of Beavers in California: Implications for Salmonids
Eli Asarian, Riverbend Sciences

The Effect of Beavers on an Urban Stream, Qualitative Observations from Six Years of Citizen Science
Heidi Perryman, Heidi Perryman, Ph.D. President & Founder: Worth A Dam

Effects of Beaver Dams on Steelhead Populations, a Review of the Science
Michael Pollock, PhD, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries

Co-habitation of Steelhead and Beaver within the Lower Santa Ynez River
Tim Robinson, PhD, Cachuma Conservation Release Board

Policy Opportunities for Working with Beaver in Salmonid Recovery
Kate Lundquist, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center WATER Institute

The Role Of Beaver In Shaping Steelhead Habitat Heterogeneity And Thermal Refugia In A Central Oregon Stream
Florence N. Consolati, Department of Watershed Sciences, Utah State University