There are several points that need to be understood before we go father with this venture. The DFG staff that went out with you on Wednesday all agree that short of a catastrophic flood event, there will be remnants of this trout population that will remain in the watershed. They also agree fish will be lost in the burn area as they would have been with any large high flow event. After considerable discussion on the DFG'S crew return, we have agreed, if conditions can be met and agreed to among all parties, we do not have a problem with moving fish into upstream reaches of Pauma Creek or its tributaries (i.e. French Creek) provided there is adequate carrying capacity in the desired reaches. Fish will only be collected by DFG biologists and transported under their direction. We are also in agreement that a few fish can be housed in an appropriate aquarium setting. This creates a problem with decreased genetic fitness of the offspring and as a consequence eggs could only be moved to Pauma Creek if it is conclusively demonstrated by our staff that no trout exist in the watershed. A report of Wednesday's survey is being prepared and is being sent to all DFG staff who participated for review. As soon as the report is finalized, we would be pleased to send you a copy.
Bruce Campbell has passed on information to the effect that flows in Pauma Creek are near 600 cfs. Flows of this magnitude make it impossible to get into the creek to move fish. We will thus have to wait for flows to recede before we can get into the stream.
I would point out that we have staff serving undetermined times on Southern California BAER teams and our resources are even further limited. At least one native coastal rainbow trout population along with a speckled dace population (Harding Creek) is in much greater peril than any other native trout population in any of the burned areas. The USFS and USGS has been requesting our assistance with this recovery also. We may be put in a position of setting some priorities for the staff we have.
Some four years ago we requested San Diego Trout put together a hatchery plan, help come to an MOU position with Chula Vista Nature Center, and provide a management plan for populations considered at risk. If these measures had been followed through we may be able to take quicker actions now. The management plan and the hatchery plan will require DFG approval or certification. These steps will still have to be agreed to in principle before we go on with this rescue and be accomplished if the aquarium option continues.
I understand there was a faction of San Diego Trout that had some unpleasant things to say about the fact I could not participate in Wednesday's survey. My apologies for not being there but both my wife and our granddaughter were down with the flu and I could not get to far away for too long.
We will help as we can, but I want to be very clear that we will not send crews into the water until flows reach safe levels and that any movement of trout or collection of trout will be done under DFG supervision.
Please call if you have any questions.
Dwayne C. Maxwell, Ph.D.
Department of Fish and Game