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NOAA Provides Roadmap to Recovery For Steelhead Trout in Southern California

Southern California Steelhead Southern California Steelhead

January 12 2012 - NOAA Fisheries Service issued a final Recovery Plan designed to stabilize and eventually restore steelhead trout numbers in coastal streams from the Santa Maria River in Santa Barbara County south to the United States and Mexico border.

“This final plan is a roadmap to recovery for one of the most endangered fish species in the United States,” said Penny Ruvelas, NOAA Fisheries Service Area Office Supervisor for Protected Resources in Southern California. “It will likely take decades to restore these fish to the coastal rivers and streams where they once thrived, but this plan is a very significant step in achieving that goal.”

It is estimated this Southern California distinct population segment of steelhead once numbered over 45,000 but has since declined to less than 500 and was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1997. The ESA requires a Recovery Plan be developed when a species is listed under the statute as either threatened or endangered.  

The development of a Recovery Plan is an important part in the successful rebuilding of a species because it incorporates information from a multitude of interested parties including scientific researchers, stakeholders and the general public.  NOAA Fisheries Service spent over ten years developing a scientific foundation for the Recovery Plan, and over two years gathering information during a series of workshops and meetings with the public from Santa Barbara to Carlsbad, California.

Recovery Plans identify recovery criteria and actions, based upon the best scientific and commercial data available, necessary for the protection and recovery of the listed species. Recovery Plans published by NOAA’s Fisheries Service are guidance documents, not regulatory documents, and their implementation depends on the voluntary cooperation of multiple stakeholders at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

Copies of the Southern California Steelhead Recovery Plan will be provided on a compact disc upon request.  Contact Kimberly Speech at 562-980-4020 or email with “CD-ROM request for Southern California Steelhead recovery plan” in the subject line.  Electronic copies of this plan are also available on-line at

Information on recovery plans for species listed under the ESA may be found at  Recovery plans for federally listed salmonids throughout California and Southern Oregon may be found at