Stream Conservation Targets

Streams play an integral role in maintaining biodiversity of the Bay Area and for this reason the Riparian/Fish Focus Team chose all Bay Area streams as conservation targets.  They also chose to divide the streams into priority categories to indicate relative importance. Priority rankings do not increase or decrease conservation goals but focus attention on the most important streams and watersheds, especially for listed anadromous fish and important assemblages of native fishes.  For a full discussion, see Chapter 5: Fine Filter: Riparian Habitat and Fish.

All Priority 1 and 2 streams, along with the data source and justification for the priority ranking, are listed in Appendix E, Priority 1 and 2 Streams. Priority 1 and 2 streams can also be found on the Conservation Lands Network Explorer,

new streams

Priority 1 Streams 

Priority 1 streams and watersheds have existing steelhead populations, available rearing habitat, and current or historic coho populations that must be conserved and/or restored as soon as possible for fish conservation to be effective. Restoring flows is essential to the conservation of these species. The following streams were identified as Priority 1:

  1. Essential Streams for steelhead draining to the San Francisco Estuary as identified in Becker et al. 2007.
  2. Coho Core Area and most Phase 1 Expansion Area streams from the Public Draft Recovery Plan for the Evolutionarily Significant Unit of Central California Coast Coho Salmon (see Figure 5.6: Coastal Stream Conservation Targets). Both Dependent and Independent coho streams were given a Priority 1. 
  3. Historic coho streams listed in the CalFish Coho Distribution data.
  4. Streams draining to the Bay with high diversity assemblages of warm-water native fish (Leidy 2008).
  5. The best coastal steelhead streams not covered by coho salmon (CalFish Winter Steelhead Distribution and Riparian/Fish Focus Team expert opinion).
  6. The healthiest steelhead streams in the Pajaro River basin (expert opinion of Riparian/Fish Focus Team and Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan).

Priority 2 Streams

Priority 2 streams and watersheds should receive substantial protection and restoration for long-term fish conservation. Priority 2 streams have smaller steelhead, land-locked rainbow trout populations and other/or healthy assemblages of native fish.  They may also be isolated stream segments with high conservation value.  For example, Upper Stevens Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains North landscape unit supports resident rainbow trout, California roach and Sacramento sucker; Coyote Creek above Coyote Reservoir supports rainbow trout and five other native fishes. 

In coastal areas, all identified winter steelhead streams were included as Priority 2.  These include the majority of streams with any connection to the ocean.  The following criteria were used to identify Priority 2 streams:

  1. Streams draining to San Francisco Estuary with less healthy steelhead runs (Becker et al. (2007)).
  2. Streams draining to San Francisco Estuary with assemblages of native fish other than steelhead (Leidy, 2008 Report).
  3. Streams in the Pajaro River Basin with less healthy steelhead runs (Riparian/Fish Focus Team expert opinion and Santa Clara County Habitat Conservation Plan).
  4. Coastal streams with steelhead draining into coho streams (including the Russian River basin) (CalFish Winter Steelhead Distribution). 
  5. Streams draining to the San Francisco Estuary with landlocked rainbow trout (Leidy, 2008 Report).
  6. Streams with “reservoir anadromy” where fish grow large in the reservoir and run upstream to spawn.  Streams with such potential are listed below but note that there may be others not listed in smaller reservoirs.  These streams largely overlap with Priority 2 streams supporting other native fish assemblages.

Priority 3 Streams 

All remaining streams are classified as Priority 3 because of the critical role played by all riparian areas in providing hydrologic integrity, wildlife habitat, corridors, and buffering against climate change.