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Horse Creek Damolition. Presenters: Matt Stoecker, Stoecker Ecological and Thomas B. Dunklin Productions. Horse Creek. Santa Barbara. Sisquoc River Steelhead Barrier Assessment and Recovery 2003. Funded by the Coastal Conservancy Identified migration barriers

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horse creek damolition
Horse Creek Damolition


Matt Stoecker, Stoecker Ecological


Thomas B. Dunklin Productions


Horse Creek

Santa Barbara

sisquoc river steelhead barrier assessment and recovery 2003
Sisquoc River Steelhead Barrier Assessment and Recovery 2003
  • Funded by the Coastal Conservancy
  • Identified migration barriers
  • Historic steelhead documentation/current observations
  • Habitat assessment
  • Prioritize barriers for fish passage projects
key findings
Key Findings
  • Santa Maria R. was 2nd largest steelhead run in SB Co.
  • Twitchell Dam (1950’s) blocked 264 miles, Cuyama R.
  • Majority spawners used Sisquoc R. (Shapovalov, 1945)
  • Over 203 miles historically accessible in Sisquoc River.
  • Abundant high quality spawning and rearing habitat.
  • Historic documentation and current wild O. mykiss population.
  • 31 anthropogenic barriers identified, plus natural barriers.
  • Horse Creek Dam blocks the most habitat at 19 miles
  • Most limiting factor to Sisquoc steelhead is reduced surface flow for migration on the Santa Maria River caused by inadequate releases from Twitchell Dam and excessive groundwater withdrawal
historic steelhead documentation
Historic Steelhead Documentation
  • Sisquoc River 1916 (above)
  • “ The stream is so full of mountain trout. I am confident that we saw in some places more than 500 at one sight….and had no difficulty capturing all we wanted with our hands.” Stephen Bowers 1879
sisquoc r steelhead survey 2005
Sisquoc R. Steelhead Survey 2005

Funded by DFG

  • Adult Steelhead over-summering 6 feet down in a cave under this bedrock ledge.
horse ck dam
Horse Ck. Dam
  • Built 11/3/1969 after Wellman Fire
  • Sacrete bags on concrete footing, with re-bar
  • Dam crest 62 feet
  • Dam height 10 feet (5’ Dam, 5’ perched)
  • Filled with sediment
  • Stream gage, never used
horse creek habitat and barriers
Horse Creek Habitat and Barriers
  • 21.8 mi2, 1000-5000’ elev
  • Dam 850 feet upstream from Sisquoc River
  • 19 miles of habitat (poor to good) upstream of dam to natural barriers.
  • Both perennial and intermittent reaches.
  • No trout observed, Arroyo Chub present.
channel assessment study 2005
Channel Assessment Study 2005
  • Funded by American Rivers/NOAA Fisheries
  • Michael Love and Assoc. and Stoecker Ecological
  • Longitudinal Profile 2,200’
  • 7 channel cross sections
  • 2 downstream, 1 at dam, 4 upstream
  • Wolman pebble count of stored sediment 250’ u/s

Plan Map

Plan Map

Longitudinal Profile Survey

anticipated removal outcome
Anticipated Removal Outcome
  • Channel incision 2,321’ upstream
  • 15,400 cubic yards of sediment u/s mobilized

(Annual Sisquoc R. 255,000-367,000 yd3)

4-6% increase in one year, but will take more

  • Sediment released relatively course (gravel and cobble) Wolman pebble count.
  • Minimal to no negative impacts downstream
  • Unobstructed wildlife/fish passage and improved habitat and surface flow upstream
the preferred alternative


Not consistent with Wilderness and Wild Scenic management

Most effective fish and wildlife passage

Restore surface flows and channel complexity

Inexpensive vs. fishway


Staged release of sediment not necessary

No danger to people

Difficult access

Inexpensive vs. heavy equipment

Reduced impact to bank and channel

DFG and CCC technical support and explosives (ammonium nitrate) available for project

Interest in gaining experience/knowledge with this technique

The Preferred Alternative
Coastal Conservancy, Los Padres Nat. Forest, American Rivers, NOAA Fisheries, Dept. Fish and Game, California Conservation Corps, Community Environmental Council, Sisquoc Ranch, Thomas B. Dunklin Productions/Joan Dunning, Stoecker Ecological, Forest Watch
un dam it and they will come
Un-Dam it and they will come!
  • Matt Stoecker
  • Photo/Assistance thanks:
  • Bob, Doug, Jim Stoecker
  • Thomas Dunklin
  • Michel Love
  • Shaw Allen
  • Kevin Cooper
  • Tony Llanos
  • Donna Toth