About Us: Our Mission

The South Coast Chapter got its start in south Orange County in 1989. Our area, with its dry arid climate, urban watersheds and intermittent water, may seem like an odd place for coldwater fishery conservation. And, there is no fishing allowed for any species in any freshwater creeks, save one small put-and take spot in upper Trabuco.
But, under the founding and continued leadership of George Sutherland, who had been involved with TU in other states, helped launch the chapter. He had heard about the historic steelhead fisheries on San Mateo and San Juan, talked to the local old-timers who once fished these waters and saw the old, amazing photos, proving the abundance of steelhead that once lived here. He had a vision that, with the right comprehensive strategic plan, that these waters could once again support a southern steelhead fishery. George has worked tirelessly to carry out this plan, some small steps, and some big steps. The biggest step to date, occurred last year with the Wildlife Conservancy, an arm of CA Fish and Game, granted TU a 1.2MM fish ladder/passage on Trabuco Creek in San Juan Capistrano at the I-5 bridge, which will allow migratory steelhead to proceed upstream in high spring flows to their ancestral spawning beds in the upper cool headwaters. We are currently working on more grants to remove man-made obstacles on these creeks.
The healthy steelhead is a symbol of healthy watersheds, clean water and ultimately, a clean environment. And, that—is our ultimate goal.
Come join us, get involved, see what a difference a local grassroots group can make.
( Pic details: 21" male steelhead found in lower San Juan Creek, 100 yards off the PCH bridge,Dana Point March 2012)
In southern California, we are all used to hearing about the trout and salmon fishing in the Sierras, the northern coastal waters and the northern half of the state in general. It is generally assumed that there is little to no freshwater wild fish residing in southern California urban waters, that they have been extirpated, and are extinct.
Not true. Those two words are the driving reason the South Coast Chapter exists. Over the last 10 years or so, the southern Steelhead has been mounting a comeback, back to their ancestral migratory spawning watersheds. Our work as a local grassroots group has focused on local stream restoration in two watersheds; San Mateo Creek, an undammed, unspoiled watershed and the San Juan/Arroyo Trabuco Creek watershed, which travels mainly in urban, populated areas. We are expanding our experience into the Los Angeles River restoration. All of these creeks were historic steelhead fisheries and were prevalent until the late 1940’s.Development, water diversion and agriculture have taken their toll on these watersheds. Today, the political winds have shifted and there is a growing movement among non-governmental organizations as well as the regulatory agencies to restore and
preserve these waters back to their original form.
See our state website http://www.tucalifornia.org for more background information