Be a Steelhead Advocate, Report Illegal Fishing in the Ventura River
Friends, summer is here and once again we're grateful to have local watering holes for families and animals to enjoy. The Ventura River behind Patagonia HQ provides a few of these aquatic sanctuaries, but we must remember they're not hosts to humans alone. In 1997, southern steelhead were granted protection under the federal Endangered Species Act and their recovery in the Ventura River is still a great struggle. If you witness illegal fishing in the river, we urge you to call the Cal-TIP number at 888-334-2258 and report the incident.
A unique form of rainbow trout, southern steelhead, spend most of their adult lives in the ocean, but spawn in freshwater streams and rivers. At one time, thousands of steelhead returned to the Ventura River every year, but their lifecycle was tragically interrupted by dams and water diversions, poor planning, urban development, pollution, droughts, and, sadly, ignorance. These impacts have decimated southern steelhead runs, and today only a few hundred of the iridescent beauties make their yearly spawning pilgrimage.
[Patagonia employee Steve Wages, and his daughter Emily, received Santa Barbara Channel Keeper's Volunteers of the Year award in 2008 for their work with the Stream Team. Photo: Jim Little via "Testing the Waters."]
There are encouraging signs of a steelhead comeback in the Ventura River and they can be attributed to many things such as public awareness and community action, the construction of a fish-passage ladder, removal of obstructions, habitat restoration, and continual monitoring of water quality (thanks, Ventura Surfrider Foundation and Santa Barbara Channel Keeper), leading to improved water quality. Soon the Matilija Dam will be history and its delicate ecosystem restored, allowing the steelhead even further reach into their habitat. An excellent resource for up-to-date information can be found at Ventura River Ecosystem, the blog of Paul Jenkin, Environmental Director of Ventura Surfrider. One post in particular talks about fish monitoring in the Ventura River and features a video clip that was shot by GPIW employee Brett Millar. If you really want to get involved, consider joining Channel Keeper's Stream Team. Their calendar outlines upcoming volunteer opportunities.
Our community is blessed with a second chance to enjoy the steelhead, and we must embrace this opportunity to help aid their recovery. As the steelhead persevere in their quest to return, we, too, must persist as their advocates. Patagonia customers, employees and their friends and families are well-suited for this task – you are frequently out on the trails, on rides and hikes. Be observant. While it is not recommended that you confront anyone, if you witness illegal fishing in the river we urge you to call the Cal-TIP number at 888-334-2258. Put the Cal-TIP number in your cell phone, carry it with you, call the number and accurately report the location so DFG wardens can respond quickly. If you don't live near Ventura, find the contact in formation for agencies in your area that enforce poaching and polluting laws. Thanks for your time and positive vibes.
– Pedro Jose
[The Peirano Brothers with their catch of steelhead from the Ventura River, ca. 1920s, before the fish were declared endangered. With your help, steelhead may yet return to their former glory.]