Agua Pura: Exploring Salmon and Steelhead in California Communities
Many Californians are surprised to learn that salmon and steelhead may be living right in their neighborhood creek. In fact, five species of Pacific salmon and steelhead are native to California, were once abundant here, and were a significant part of the indigenous cultures. And while dams, fishing, development, pollution, and erosion have taken a toll, small populations can still be found today in coastal rivers and creeks up and down the state.
Pacific salmon and steelhead trout have unusual life cycles that take them from fresh water to the ocean, and then back again. The distances they travel and their return to the exact place where they started as eggs are truly amazing. Since salmon and steelhead use all portions of a river system—from small creek to river to estuary to ocean—and because they require cool, clean water to survive, their presence or absence is an indication of water quality and watershed health. For this reason, protecting and restoring salmon and steelhead habitat also means safer and more vital watersheds for people.
This 4-H utilized curriculum, AguaPura, is designed to enhance participants’ understanding of salmon and steelhead and the critical relationship these fish have to healthy watersheds. Through a variety of “hands-on” and “heads-on” learning activities, participants are encouraged to explore their surroundings and the connections between salmon and steelhead and the people in their community.
Using real-life investigation and problem solving skills, participants will:
- Investigate the natural history of their local salmon or steelhead population.
- Find out how human activities have impacted the salmon and steelhead populations in local rivers and streams.
- Work with other community members to enhance salmon and steelhead habitat within the community.