Wildfire Near Salmonid Recovery and Research Facility

The Lockheed fire that burned 7,800 acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains, including much of the Scott Creek watershed, is 100% contained and unlikely to cause more extensive damage.

The Scott Creek watershed is the site of an ongoing 7-year study of the ecology of ESA-listed central California coast (CCC) coho salmon and steelhead. The Monterey Bay Salmon & Trout Project hatchery, a critical component of coho salmon CCC ESU recovery and an experimental facility for the SWFSC Fisheries Ecology Division, was spared from the fire by the extraordinary effort of the firemen.

The hatchery is located in the Big Creek watershed tributary to Scott Creek, which was ravaged by the fire along with the Mill Creek tributary drainage. The mainstem Scott Creek was not affected by the fire. The two burned watersheds and upper Scott Creek, similar habitat to Big and Mill Creeks before the fire, offer a unique opportunity to research in-depth the recovery of burned watersheds and the salmon stocks inhabiting them. When the rainy season begins, the fire-damaged areas of the upper watershed could have potentially major ramifications for Scott Creek, Waddell Creek and San Vicente Creek, all of which support wild spawning steelhead and coho salmon.

(August 24, 2009)