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Stenner Creek Watershed Enhancement Project

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San Luis Obispo Creek is host to the threatened anadromous steelhead trout. Upper Stenner Creek, a tributary to San Luis Obispo Creek, provides essential refugia habitat in the dry season, offering deep pools and riparian cover for juvenile and resident steelhead. These deep pools are essential for over-summer survival, providing cool water and protection between evaporating riffles, especially during times of extended drought.

Changes in land uses, trails and rural roads in the upper watershed of Stenner Creek have caused unintended consequences that have increased erosion and sediment delivery to waterways. As sediment delivery has increased, critical pools have become filled in, spawning gravels have been covered by finer sediment and temperatures have increased. Reducing sedimentation is key to protecting this essential fish habitat in upper Stenner Creek.

In 2022, California's Department of Conservation Riparian Corridor Restoration program awarded Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District (CSLRCD) funding for planning restoration of Stenner Creek on Cal Poly’s ranches. Project partners Creek Lands Conservation and Pacific Watershed Associates are working on road, trail and in-channel assessments of erosivity to determine primary sources of sedimentation into Stenner Creek. Erosion treatment plans for prioritized roads, trails and off-channel sites were completed in December 2022.

The proposed treatments are intended to improve road drainage, road drivability and water quality conditions, as well as reduce erosion, sediment delivery, and future maintenance needs for identified sediment source sites and hydrologically connected road reaches. Engineered designs for in-channel sites will be completed in 2023. The project outcome will be shovel-ready projects for implementation, phase 2. 

Partners: Cal Poly, Creek Lands Conservation, Pacific Watershed Associates, 

Funders: DoC

RCD Contact: Hallie Richard,