California Coastal Coho and Steelhead Coalition

Who we are 

The once-prolific runs of coho salmon and steelhead along California’s central and northern coast have declined precipitously since the 1950s, due to a variety of factors. California's coho salmon are now estimated at merely 1% of their historic abundance. As these fisheries have dwindled, so have angling opportunities. 

Coho and steelhead are particularly vulnerable to impacts from summer water demands. Unlike Chinook salmon that migrate to the ocean within six months of hatching, coho and some steelhead remain in their home stream for a year—streams which also serve human purposes, and are prone to being de-watered in the summer.   

Without sufficient cold, clean water, there is no in-stream habitat for coho and steelhead.
More than a decade ago, Trout Unlimited started with working with local businesses, landowners, communities and conservation groups to restore and improve habitat in important coho and steelhead watersheds -- the Eel, Mattole, Navarro, and Russian rivers, to name a few.
TU’s efforts to enhance streamflows up and down the California coast, and outstanding partnerships with California leaders in fisheries conservation -- especially those of the Nature Conservancy and California Trout -- helped launch us into this next phase of collaborative conservation.
Working together as the California Coastal Coho and Steelhead Coalition, Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy, and California Trout will work with willing landowners to ensure summer water for fish and adequate supplies for water users, farms, and communities. 


How we work 

By providing solutions to increase summer streamflows and changing policies that make it hard for caring people to do the right thing, we can chart a course forward for California stream management that benefits fish, farmers, and communities alike. Coalition partners will work together through three integrated initiatives, each bringing its strongest skills and relationships to bear for the benefit of our coho and steelhead.  

Increasing summer streamflow

​Partners will work in the Navarro, Russian, Mattole, and Shasta rivers; and San Gregorio and Pescadero creeks to help landowners:

* Irrigate more efficiently  
* Alter their water rights to allow storage
* Build the technical capacity for landowners to coordinate diversions in real-time


Improving science, policy, and incentives

Coalition partners will increase our understanding of where and how streamflows limits coho and steelhead survival in the South Fork Eel, and create an agency-approved instream flow plan. Partners will also explore solutions for obstacles to adopting fish-friendly irrigation practices.  

* Purchasing and leasing water rights 
* Finding low-cost solutions to build water storage for individual landowners
* Streamlining the permitting process, while addressing the tax burden of completed facilities 
* Reducing costs for dedicating a portion of a water right to instream flows for fish
Export Lessons Learned
Coalition activities will become a model for achieving changes in water management to improve streamflows for coho and steelhead. We need to scale up the approach by creating compelling models across a wide geographic range, and reducing market and policy barriers to widespread implementation.Tools to be exported throughout the coast range include:
* Incentives-based local markets for water transactions  
* Forbearance agreements and water rights templates to streamline     
   permitting, and storing winter water for summer  
* "Safe harbor agreements" to protect landowners from risk



Support Trout Unlimited's involvement with the California Coastal Coho and Steelhead Coalition

Libby Earthman, West Coast philanthropy manager, is happy to assist you with any questions you have about supporting our involvement in the Coalition: 415-638-2017

  • Check: Trout Unlimited, Attn Sarah Wessell | 1777 N. Kent Street Suite 100 | Arlington, VA 22209. Please include COHOHO in the memo line
  • Appreciated stock: Print the form at this link and mailing it back
  • Online: (Link coming soon!)
Author of this Page 

Libby Earthman, 415-638-2017

Photo of coho salmon pair courtesy of SPAWN.

Risks to Fishing 
Reduced Stream Flows
Resources & Carrying Capacity
Water Temperature

Add Content