Davy Brown and Munch Creek Fish Passage Project

Location of project: 34.760303, -119.953943, Project map

Forum Funding Received: $44,538

Description of Project, including deliverables:

Davy Brown and Munch Creeks, located in the Los Padres National Forest, are tributaries to Manzana Creek, which is the largest tributary to the Sisquoc River. The mainstem Sisquoc contains no fish migration barriers, making habitat in this area critical for the recovery of the Southern California Steelhead (SCS). In 2007, the Zaca Fire burned much of the Sisquoc River watershed, resulting in the removal of native vegetation, and subsequent erosion and sediment deposition into water bodies, which is harmful to aquatic organisms at various life stages. Manzana Creek and its tributaries were relatively unaffected by the fire, and have provided valuable refuge for SCS and other aquatic species from areas negatively impacted by the fire. This Project will allow for the restoration of the streambed at each of the three locations (two barriers on Davy Brown Creek and one on Munch Creek) and allow for unimpeded migration of aquatic organisms through each reach, creating and opening up further refuge habitat needed for aquatic species while burned areas recover. Additionally, the Project will provide for future improvement and safety of the road crossings through the replacement of low flow road crossings with two steel bridges over Davy Brown creek. The Project also addresses action item (Sis-SCS-3.1 Develop and implement plan to remove or modify fish passage barriers with the watershed) presented in the NOAA Southern California Steelhead Recovery Management Plan.   

Specifically, the proposed fish passage improvements include the replacement of two low flow stream crossings/concrete fords with pre-fabricated steel bridges on Davy Brown Creek, and the complete removal of a concrete ford at Munch Creek. This work will open up ~3.1 miles of additional high quality habitat for SCS. Channels at project sites will be regraded and created to improve habitat quality, fish passage, and channel hydraulics, and will be constructed to remain stable in a 100-year flood event. The project will also provide safer creek crossings, as the new bridges will be constructed to pass the 100-year flood conveyance with two feet of freeboard per United States Forest Service guidelines, and will allow the US Forest Service to be better adapted to the potential increased flow events that may result from climate change. 
SCHR seeks funding to complete the engineering designs for this project while taking them from 90% designs to 100% designs. With funding from NFWF secured for the construction of this project, California Fish Passage Forum Funding is needed in order to complete the engineering phase.   

Project Goals 
The goals of this Project are to remove three barriers to steelhead migration on Davy Brown and Munch Creeks, and to replace two of these barriers over Davy Brown with steel bridges. This Project will work towards restoring a sustainable population of steelhead to the watershed, and will provide SCS and other aquatic species refuge from fire affected areas and areas of poor habitat quality. Additional goals of this project are to increase public safety of road crossings through the installation of new stream crossings with the capacity to withstand large flooding which may be exacerbated by climate change. Specific measurable long-term objectives include 1) removing three barriers to migration, 2) replacing two of these low flow road crossings (barriers) with steel bridges, 3) reconstructing and restoring the creek’s grade at each of the three sites to comply with state and federal criteria for fish passage, and 4) return of anadromous fish spawning in habitats upstream of the removed barriers. 

Deliverables and Outcomes 
Deliverables from the engineering portion of project, for which SCHR seeks CFPF funding, are final project engineering and structural designs prepared by Waterways Engineering. 

Deliverables of the overall project include a final report with copies of approved final engineering and structural designs, re-vegetation plans, and photos of Project pre-, during and post-construction. Additionally, monitoring of re-vegetation effort after project completion (3-5 years) along with final monitoring report, as well as an as built designs and report. In addition, weekly QA/QC reports will be submitted during all instream project activities to ensure project is constructed as designed. 

Expected outcomes of this project include increased fish passage in the Sisquoc River watershed, resulting in a direct benefit to steelhead, as this newly opened habitat is of higher quality than nearby burned areas. 

How it was determined this barrier is a high priority project: 

    • Barrier is listed in a key restoration plan for the region
    • Endorsed by agency
    • Local knowledge/conversation with local representatives

The California Fish Passage Forum has nine overall objectives. This project will help to address 

    • 1. Remediate barriers to effective fish migration.
    • 2. Facilitate coordination and communication among agencies, agency staff, and other entities that may propose, review, or promulgate fish passage criteria within California.
    • 3. Identify, assess and prioritize the removal of fish passage barriers.
    • 4. Disseminate guidelines and design criteria for replacement of barriers.
    • 5. Coordinate funding mechanisms to remove fish passage barriers.
    • 6. Promote state and federal permit coordination and streamlining.
    • 7. Facilitate plans to monitor and evaluate fish passage restoration effectiveness to ensure accountability.

The anadromous fish species that will benefit from this project: Steelhead/rainbow trout

The miles of stream opened as a result of implementing this project: 3.1

National Conservation Strategies that will be addressed by this project: 

    • 1. Protect intact and healthy waters.
    • 2. Restore hydrologic conditions for fish.
    • 3. Reconnect fragmented fish habitats.

USFWS Climate Change Strategies that will be addressed by this project: 

    • 3.1 Take conservation action for climate-vulnerable species.
    • 3.2 Promote habitat connectivity and integrity.
    • 3.3 Reduce non-climate change ecosystem stressors.
    • 3.4 Identify and fill priority freshwater needs.
    • 3.5 Conserve coastal and marine resources.
    • 3.6 Manage genetic resources.

The removal of non-climate change stressors, such as fish passage impediments, will promote stream habitat connectivity and integrity. Additionally, the removal of these barriers will provide refuge habitat for SCS and other species in higher portions of the watershed where stream temperatures are typically cooler. This will in turn facilitate the protection of phenotypic and genetic diversity by interlinking populations and providing habitat refugia. Freshwater ecosystems are critical to resident rainbow trout and anadromous steelhead populations, and effective fish passage strategies need to address juvenile and adult stages of migratory fish. By augmenting fish passage to natal freshwater habitats in the Sisquoc River watershed, as well as in migration corridors to the Pacific Ocean, both marine and freshwater SCS populations will have increased prospects for success.