Of the $2.2 million budget proposed by the Cachuma Conservation and Release Board, one of the more obscure but nonetheless important government agencies in Santa Barbara County, roughly $1.5 million will be spent on biological studies and habitat restoration efforts designed to make the lower reaches of the Santa Ynez River more hospitable to steelhead trout.

The steelhead is listed by the federal government as an endangered species, and local water agencies are intent on limiting recovery efforts to the river’s main stem and tributaries below Lake Cachuma, where a large chunk of the South Coast’s water supply is stored. The creation of Lake Cachuma – achieved by the building of Bradbury Dam – prevented steelhead from reaching traditional upstream spawning grounds and has contributed greatly to the once plentiful fish’s demise.


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