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CA Spent $17M On Unused Fish Ladders

From a momentarily awoken Associated Press:

Calif.’s costly trout recovery effort criticized

By Noaki Schwartz, Associated Press Writer Mon Apr 26, 2010

MALIBU, Calif. – In hopes of luring the endangered steelhead trout into the Santa Monica Mountains, California’s transportation agency is planning to spend $935,000 to pave over part of a popular beach with cement and boulders to build a freeway of sorts for fish.

The project is the latest, yet far from the most unusual, steelhead recovery attempt by government agencies that have spent millions of dollars on concrete fish ladders, cameras, fishways and other contraptions to allow seagoing trout to spawn in Southern California streams.

The problem, even some conservationists say, is that there is little evidence construction efforts since the 1980s have done anything except absorb taxpayer dollars. The work to save the species has led to about a dozen concrete fishways at a cost of more than $16.7 million.

A $1 million fish ladder — a structure designed to allow fish to migrate upstream around a barrier — may cost $7.5 million in stimulus funds to rebuild. Another fish ladder would require fish to leap 8 feet to reach it. Studies alone for replacing a third ladder have cost an estimated $3 million

Now the California Department of Transportation wants to build a passage for steelhead here across Dan Blocker State Beach, named for the actor who played Hoss on TV’s Bonanaza. The artificial streambed, up to 60 feet wide and extending 102 feet onto the beach, would create pools allowing the fish to swim under the Pacific Coast Highway, then upstream…  

But government agencies have footed the bill for many projects including the concrete fish ladders and fishways to help the steelhead get around dams and other structures. The ladders are expensive, short-lived, require maintenance and have even been known to harm fish.

"Fish ladders don’t work like the engineers have them work on paper," said Matt Stoecker, a biological consultant who has spent years working on steelhead recovery.

Even when ladders are successful, recovery is a slow process and sometimes upgrades are necessary.

For example, the United Conservation District in Ventura needs to replace a 20-year-old $1.5 million ladder at a cost of up to $25 million, according to general manager Michael Solomon.

The agency has already installed lights, sonar equipment, special trash grates and video equipment. The district is looking at hiring a third full-time staffer to do nothing but deal with the fish

Elsewhere in Ventura County, an $8.5 million fish ladder installed at the Robles Diversion Dam in 2006 has since been used by about a dozen adult steelhead

Well, it’s not like California doesn’t have money to burn.

But perhaps when the state goes bankrupt and everyone moves out, the coastline will revert back to its pre-human, pristine state.

Maybe that’s the real plan here.

(Thanks to Confucius for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “CA Spent $17M On Unused Fish Ladders”

  1. confucius

    From AP:

    Calif.’s costly trout recovery effort criticized

    By Noaki Schwartz, Associated Press Writer

    April 26, 2010

    MALIBU, Calif. – In hopes of luring the endangered steelhead trout into the Santa Monica Mountains, California’s transportation agency is planning to spend $935,000 to pave over part of a popular beach with cement and boulders to build a freeway of sorts for fish.

    The project is the latest, yet far from the most unusual, steelhead recovery attempt by government agencies that have spent millions of dollars on concrete fish ladders, cameras, fishways and other contraptions to allow seagoing trout to spawn in Southern California streams.

    The problem, even some conservationists say, is that there is little evidence construction efforts since the 1980s have done anything except absorb taxpayer dollars. The work to save the species has led to about a dozen concrete fishways at a cost of more than $16.7 million.

    A $1 million fish ladder — a structure designed to allow fish to migrate upstream over a barrier — may cost $7.5 million in stimulus funds to rebuild. …

    The plan makes no sense to restaurant owner Daniel Forge, who decided to sell a patch of property to CalTrans after the agency threatened to use eminent domain.

    “Nobody really wants (construction) as a solution,” said Mary Larson, who oversees steelhead recovery for Fish and Game in Southern California. But she believes the CalTrans proposal to build a fishway in Malibu could work. “Frogs just need good, quiet waters, birds need good tall trees to nest but my fish [emphasis added] need to travel.”

    The agency has already installed lights, sonar equipment, special trash grates and video equipment. The district is looking at hiring a third full-time staffer to do nothing but deal with the fish. …

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/201.....s_for_fish

    Note that California’s Department of Transportation is in charge of these fish “freeways.” And that U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill.

    Any questions why California is bankrupt—morally and financially?

  2. U NO HOO

    Uh, why dont yous in Kalifornia chust grow some fish in a hatchery and then stock the rivers and streams? Kids will pay to feed the fish in the hatchery.

    Or whatever.

    • JohnMG

      Ladders are so…..passe`. I would think ‘fish-elevators’, or ‘fish-escalators’ or ‘fish-movers’ (like they have for moving people at airports and such) would more accurately reflect California’s high-tech, innovative-solutions mentality.

      Hatcheries are so atypical of the “fly-over country” mindset. How primative!

    • confucius

      Don’t worry, U NO HOO. They’re already on it.

      Further in the article:

      National Marine Fisheries Service has created a recovery plan for the species that is expected to be finalized later this year. That plan would coordinate recovery efforts and would emphasize restoration of historic habitat.

      Exasperation over getting the fish where they need to go has led to some imaginative proposals over the years, such as trucking the fish to spawning grounds or building fish elevators to get them over dams.

  3. confucius

    There is one other aspect to this story. From the same article:

    The plan makes no sense to restaurant owner Daniel Forge, who decided to sell a patch of property to CalTrans after the agency threatened to use eminent domain.

    To be fair, this wouldn’t be the first time government chose fish over humans. Remember this?

    It’s farmers vs. fish for California water

    By Valerie Richardson

    Supporters of California agriculture called on the Obama administration and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday to lift water restrictions that were imposed to protect the endangered delta smelt, saying the fish is putting farmers out of business. …

    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....nia-water/

  4. tranquil.night

    Environmentalist slush funds. The Greens are to California what the public education employee union is to Chicago politics except we have the Education thugs too.

    “But perhaps when the state goes bankrupt and everyone moves out,.”

    That’s the only part of the plan that matters. Whether they dream of returning Kalheefornia to the Reconquistas, or making it a Green Utopia (I mean the likely reality that it’ll be home to every pothead on Earth), all that’s really important is that all those arrogant corporatists go elsewhere (unless you’re named Google, Apple, etc – but who are we kidding to call them capitalists when they’re at the top of the money-tree).

    Surely there’s no effort to demonize SoCal either, what with 3 major TV series and several movies purposely set in and implicitly deriding a stranglely world-wide popular county called Orange. Where all the white people “live in little boxes made of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same”? Let’s just say that we OCer’s know what it feels like to be prejudged against because of where you come – about as much as, oh, probably Texas and the South right now.

  5. NoNeoCommies

    Maybe they need to send the fish to ‘school’ and teach them engineering so they can design a fish access device that considers their unique cultural and anatomical veiwpoint?

  6. fallingpianos

    Next up on California’s agenda: fish bicycles!




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