THE PLAN

2/6/00

FROM: Allen Greenwood

SAN DIEGO TROUT
4344 Newport Ave.
San Diego, Calif. 92107
Tel. and Fax. (619) 222-4051

SUBJECT:

PLAN OUTLINE FOR THE RESTORATION OF PARTIALLY ARMORED THREESPINE STICKLEBACK (Gasterosteus aculeatus microcephalus), AND SOUTHERN STEELHEAD (Oncorhynchus mykiss iridis) FISHERIES ON SAN MATEO CREEK (AND ITS TRIBUTARY DEVIL CANYON CREEK)


FUNDING:

California State Senator Bill Morrow, Senate District 38 (this is the district in which the creeks are located) has persuaded the State Assembly to include in A.B. 18 an appropriation of $800,000 to be allocated to and administered by the California Dept. of Fish and Game for this specific restoration. The use of these funds shall be applied to funding labor, materials, overhead, and personnel, to carry out the plan's programs, and will be voted on statewide as an inclusion in Proposition 12 on the March 7, 2000 ballot.

THE PLAN:

This plan encompasses working and coordinating with local, state and federal agencies. In addition, this plan will encompass work and coordination with various watershed stakeholders including private citizens, conservation organizations and government agencies. The primary agencies are:
California Department of Fish and Game (DFG), United States Forest Service (USFS), California Department Parks and Recreation (DPR),
U.S. Navy (USN), U.S. Marines Corps Camp Pendleton (USMC),
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS),
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS),
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE),
County of Riverside Vector Control,
County of San Diego Vector Control, and
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).

This plan also requires that scientific experts in their fields will be assigned to oversee work in areas of their expertise. Licensed hydrologists, civil, soils, and structural engineers, horticulturists, landscape architects, geologists, fisheries biologists, botanists and/or other professionals will be utilized wherever their expertise is required. The plan primarily applies to the San Mateo Creek drainage.

The SAN ONOFRE CREEK drainage will not have any restoration efforts with the exception of the following: (This is due to the large ordinance impact areas that are located directly on this creek.)
1. The removal of non-native fish.
2. The installation of a fish catch weir directly below Case Springs. This is to catch any non-native fish, before they can infect the downstream pools.
3. Restocking of the native fish at the appropriate time.

SITE MAPS:

1. Develop a general map of both San Mateo Creek and San Onofre Creek watersheds. Identify all pertinent features, and delineate by "sectors" the areas to be restored. The "sectors" are dependent on land management/ownership. Sector 1 is leased by California Department of Parks and Recreation; Sector 2 is the Naval Reservation for the U.S.Marine Corps Camp Pendleton; Sector 3 is the mountainous area of the Cleveland National Forest-Trabuco Ranger District. Obtain the aerial photographs of the watersheds, and any geographic information system ( G.I.S.) maps that are available.
2. Quantify the "sectors" by both area and river mile.

OVERLAY MAPS:

These maps shall be developed from aerial photomaps and field checked by survey of the entire system. Develop "overlay" maps for each of the following distinct phases of restoration:

1. RIPARIAN AND/OR UPLAND VEGETATION OVERLAY: The riparian zone will be surveyed and mapped. This overlay map will delineate the areas to be restored by planting with native riparian and/or upland vegetation.

2. NON-NATIVE PLANT OVERLAY: This overlay will delineate the areas where non-native plants are found, by species. Areas selected for non-native plant removal will be shown.

3. DRAINAGE OVERLAY. This overlay will delineate the areas that require stream bank renewal, pool restoration, and other hydrologic improvements. The map will show by "sector" the total area and river mile for each type of stream improvement. Each stream improvement will be defined and the quantity of material to be moved either by import or export will be estimated.

4. OBSTACLE AND CROSSING OVERLAY: This overlay will depict all locations of obstacles to the free migration of steelhead both upstream and downstream. All creek crossings of any type will be noted. Natural grade should be maintained wherever possible. This is best accomplished by the use of bridges.

6. ENDANGERED SPECIES OVERLAY: This overlay will show all the known locations of all endangered species (both animal and plant) that occur within these watersheds. This is a very sensitive area, and any work that affects these species will need to be permitted. The endangered animal species that could occur in areas to be restored to their pre-degraded state are the tidewater goby (Eucylogobius newberryi) (in the lagoon area), the arroyo southwestern toad (Bufo microscaphus californicus), the least Bell's vireo (Vireo bellii pusillius), and the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailli extimus). All of these species should benefit from the restoration. In addition, any plants considered to be rare, threatened, or endangered, or of special concern will be inventoried and mapped.

7. NON-NATIVE ANIMAL OVERLAY: This overlay delineates the areas where non-native animals that are problem predators presently occur. Primarily these species are the bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), brown bullhead (Ameiurus nebulosus), carp (Cyprinus carpio), gambusia (Gambusia affinis), crayfish (procambarus clarkii), and bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana).

INFORMATIONAL DETAILS

All literature available and applicable to these watersheds is to be consulted for background information ( e.g. restoration plans). Fisheries surveys will be used to identify habitat for each species of fish including the spawning, rearing, juvenile, adult, migratory and overwinter habitat.

Seasonal and yearly cycles of flood and drought, and stream hydrology, including stream flows will be taken into consideration. Riparian restoration studies will be utilized along with studies on the removal of non-native plants in Southern California watersheds.

Flow and hydrologic information will be investigated and considered, along with written reports by the project hydrologist, before any instream work is commenced. Water quality indicators (e.g., benthic macroinvertebrates), water temperature and stream flow conditions (e.g., but not limited to flow rates and velocity, water chemistry (e.g., pH, dissolved oxygen levels and dissolved solids) will be considered and/or determined.

The restoration plan will include a general historic overview of these creeks with an emphasis on the histories of the native fish, past programs to improve both the resident trout and steelhead populations, and the reasons for the decline of these species.

RESTORATION

Brief but comprehensive plans for the following restoration programs will be developed, approved and implemented after the initial mapping is completed.

EXOTIC PLANT CONTROL: Removal of invasive non-native species of plants is an important but time consuming process for both the removal and proper follow-up. Giant reed (Arundo donax) is the major invader of watercourses, and will be removed by lopping with the immediate application of approved herbicides. The cut stumps will later checked for regrowth, and if necessary a second application of herbicide will be applied. It is expected that hand held spray equipment and hand applicators of herbicide will be necessary. If necessary return and remove root ball. A pilot project will be done to determine the most economical, feasible and effective techniques to remove each species of exotic weed, and to train teams on proper technique and to determine the most effective schedule.

Another plant of major concern is the salt cedar (Tamarix sp.). A similar system of removal to that of the giant reed will be used to remove the salt cedar. Salt cedar plants would be cut to within 2" of their base and a herbicide spot applied. Other invasive non-native species may be found, and thus removed (i.e., Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), castor bean (Rincus communis), pampas grass (Cortaderia jubata), and others).

The arundo cuttings will be chopped by machine (a heavy-duty shredder), used as mulch, or removed to a proper dumpsite. Initial removal of invasive non-native plants may require a year or more, and follow up is necessary to prevent reinfestation. Team leaders who are certified and trained to apply herbicides and conduct removal will supervise the removal. Follow-up surveys should be done each year to ensure new infestations do not occur.

Removal of the entire population non-native fish, bullfrogs and crawfish can be very difficult, due to the difficulty of finding each and every one and the possibility of re-entry from outside sources (e.g., home aquarists and others who transport fish into streams, and the overflow of upstream sources, including fish ponds). The California Department of Fish and Game will be responsible for exotic fish and animal removal, with help from volunteers, and agency staff. The most efficient way to remove exotic fish would be to introduce a chemical treatment (i.e., rotenone), but this may cause certain negative impacts to native animals. Thus consideration of alternatives to chemical treatment methods need to be considered. Some of these other methods to reduce non-native fish, bullfrogs and crawfish (crayfish) may include seining or electrofishing where applicable. The use of these electrofishing or seining methods will result in a very small percentage of incidental mortality of non-target animals. Another alternative involves the use of pumps and sandbags during a dry year, to drain the water pool by pool, remove the non-natives and refill each pool. This is a very costly and tedious method.

None of the above mentioned methods are 100% effective, however efficiency can be increased if treatments are applied at the proper time. For instance, some non-natives may be more easily captured in the later months of summer, prior to the winter rains, when the stream's water level is at its lowest point. To improve the stream habitat for the native fish, removals may be required for a number of years.

In any case, it is critical that watershed landowners be educated about the problems associated with the entry of exotic plants and animals into the watercourse. This could be accomplished through educational literature to nature interpretive organizations, watershed residents, schools, newspapers, fishing publications, public and private websites e-mail and other means. To prevent a reinfestation of non-native fish and animals, landowners and property users that are located upstream of tributary drainages to San Mateo Creek must cease from planting/and or propagating exotic fish in their upstream ponds. It would also help to install fish catch weirs immediately downstream from their ponds (i.e., San Diego Union Tribune, Quest, Feb. 10,2000). The DFG, DPR, USFS, Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), Soil Conservation Service, Vector Control, US EPA and other agencies must cooperate and implement a program of education for the public to make them aware of the problems caused by planting non-native fish and animals. Education must include explanations of the problems, which are caused by planting non-native fish and other animals into the Cleveland National Forest, especially the "Wilderness Area".

Success standards for the removal of exotics will be set in the program plan. Monitoring programs will be planned and funded to measure success.

STREAM BED POOLS, CHANNELS, AND STREAM BANK RESTORATION:

This hydrologic restoration phase will be under the direction of fisheries biologists, hydrologists, soils engineers, and geologists, and is entirely planned within Sectors 1 and 2. Some of these improvements will be of a temporary nature, but they should give the stream an opportunity to restore itself. Basic stream restoration methods are demonstrated in DFG's, "California Salmonid Stream Habitat Manual". The gradient on the U.S. Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton is slightly less than 0.1%, and this is a stream where the prevention of braiding and depositional widening is of the utmost importance. The following are possible measures that can be taken to restore stream hydrology:
a. Install gabions and study the possible use of palisades. This will aid in protection and development of stream banks and aid in defining stream channels.
b. Develop resting pools and structure for the migrating steelhead.
c. Develop stream banks to confine the stream in a natural type channel in areas where sheet spreading has decreased the flow depth (the use of channel constrictors).
d. Estimate and source the costs of boulder (the same rock type as in the drainage) importation, to be used as structure and construction in a., b., and c. above.
e. Excavate and export materials in pools too silted-in to establish stream banks. (these are largely sands and fines that can be placed upon the beaches where they are badly needed.)
f. Physically remove or modify any obstacles hindering the free migration of steelhead.

All of these restorations will require estimations as to the amount and type of heavy equipment and total workdays (labor/time). Also, they will require the appropriate permits.

NATIVE PLANT AND FISH REINTRODUCTIONS:
Native Plants:

A plan for the restoration of riparian habitat will be developed. Restoration is important to initiate on the stream's southern banks to allow for early canopy shade development.

A nursery of adequate facilities will need to be established, along with personnel to staff its operation. Examples of plants to be grown as stock [some can be developed from cuttings, such as the willows (Salix spp.) and cottonwoods (Populus fremontii)] are coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), scrub oak (Quercus dumosa), sycamore (Platanus racemosa), alders (Alnus rhombifolia), and elderberry (Sambucus mexicana). Examples of understory plants to be grown are mulefat (Baccharis salicifolia), wild rose (Rosa california) and wild grape (Vitris californica) [i.e., poison oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum) will probably flourish on its own once the proper conditions are established].

These new plants will need irrigation until their root systems can attain a depth from which they can survive on their own. This program can be implemented on a trial basis by installing several 1/4 to 1/2-acre test plots. It will be necessary for on site personnel to irrigate, weed, and replant if necessary. This is an intensive phase, and should be incorporated on a phased in basis, so as mistakes can be controlled and new data can be incorporated into further phases.

Native Fish:

The native fish to be reintroduced are the partially armored threespine stickleback, and only if necessary the southern steelhead. Since southern steelhead have returned on their own in limited numbers, it is unlikely that we will need to reintroduce these fish.

PARTIALLY ARMORED THREESPINE STICKLEBACK (Gasterosteus aculeatus microcephalus): These fish were once found through out San Diego County, and are now limited to in only a few places. One stream with a healthy population is Arroyo Trabuco Creek, a tributary of San Juan Creek, which is only a short distance north of San Mateo Creek. The clear, cool headwaters of Arroyo Trabuco Creek may be one place to obtain wild broodstock. Care must be taken to avoid transplanting hitchhiking fishes. Down-stream sections of Arroyo Trabuco Creek contains exotic invasive fishes such as red shiners (Cyprinella lutrenis), which might lead to an inadvertent introduction of a pest fish species. The plan is to reintroduce the partially armored threespine stickleback to San Mateo Creek to replace the exotic mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) that are now found in the San Mateo Creek drainage. This portion of the project will need the required approval of DFG. The actual stocking of the fish by DFG will be aided by our volunteers. It is critical that the Riverside County and San Diego County Vector Control cease all planting of mosquito fish in the San Mateo Creek drainage prior to this phase of the project, and to coordinate their efforts with DFG and use only the native fish (e.g., partially armored threespine stickleback) for mosquito control throughout the drainage.

SOUTHERN STEELHEAD (Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus): The California Dept. of Fish and Game biologists will decide from what location brood stock can be obtained if necessary to save the remaining residents, in case of a severe drought. In this case the stream could dry up and these fish would be lost forever. The DFG and ourselves have discussed a plan to save these fish if conditions of low to no rainfall persist. Concerning the few southern steelhead that now inhabit a small area of San Mateo Creek, should drought conditions persist to the point of mortality, we have made tentative plans with DFG for their subsequent removal and maintenance until favorable conditions allow them to be returned to their home pools.

RECONSTRUCTION OF STREAM CROSSINGS:

There are several vehicle crossings that will require bridges to be built in place of the present Arizona culvert type of crossings that are now in place. Plans are to use flatcar or other low cost technology to build bridges that will allow the natural grade to be restored. Other stream crossings that utilize natural grade can be deep cobbled to prevent turbidity and sediment during vehicle crossings.

PERMITS

Permits will be required from the USACOE, DGF, SWRCB, and/or USFWLS for streambed restoration work. USFWLS requires permits for any areas that coincide with an endangered species. The USACOE will hold a preplanning meeting with interested parties so as to identify concerns and work out issues. Interested parties are DFG, USFWLS, NMFS, RWQCB, DPR, U.S.Marine Corps Camp Pendleton, USEPA, and USFS.

SCIENTIFIC CASE STUDIES

This restoration will give the opportunity for college and university students, especially those that have studies in restoration ecology, plant ecology, and fisheries an opportunity to study and document the actual restoration process. Also, these studies should provide important information for future work in restoring native fisheries in other Southern California streams.