Hooked up on Pescadero Creek.
By Tim Frahm
Growing up in the tiny town of Pescadero on California’s central coast, fish became a big part of my life at an early age. My father was an avid angler, especially for steelhead. By the age of ten I was fishing with him on streams from Santa Cruz to Eureka, and I still love to fish for steelhead in my hometown water – Pescadero Creek.
But development, climate change, and expansion of lands under agricultural production have combined to degrade habitat and reduce streamflows on many coastal streams, and most of the salmon and steelhead runs of this region are dramatically diminished from their heyday.
That’s a big reason why some years ago I went to work for the San Mateo County Farm Bureau, and why I was eager to work for TU. Salmon and steelhead, commercial fishermen, and produce growers on California’s central coast have something in common: we all need cold, clean, reliable stream flows.
All of these interests can achieve our goals, even in “water challenged” years, but nowadays pretty much everyone realizes that we need to work together to make this happen.
Local commercial fishermen are some of TU’s best partners around here, and have been some of the most vocal advocates for freshwater habitat restoration and sustainable fishing.
And many local farmers have embraced TU’s collaborative approach to fisheries conservation by working with us to upgrade irrigation systems and modify water withdrawals at key times of the year to improve stream conditions while sustaining reliable water supply for crop production. These farmers also have helped protect and enhance water quality -- there are no pesticide or toxicity problems and no nitrate or nutrient impairments in streams on this part of the coast.
Such outstanding partners deserve to be celebrated, and we have a lot to say “thank-you” for. But how? This area is widely known for its Brussels sprouts, as well as for its Chinook salmon. So we decided to host a dinner in Pescadero recently to honor our San Mateo County partners in salmon and steelhead conservation.
With support from the Campbell Foundation, we organized a really fun event -- the tastiest dinner you can imagine. No formal venue, no fancy speeches, just a diverse crowd of farmers, fishermen, and other conservation partners enjoying healthy food and robust conversation at the Pescadero Country Store. Can you guess the menu? And our partners in the wine grape growers industry from the Russian River drainage donated the perfect accompaniment to the cuisine.
Who says you have to eat turkey and stuffing in November? Fresh, wild, line-caught salmon and locally grown Brussels sprouts sautéed to perfection are better any day.
Tim Frahm is Central Coast Steelhead Coordinator for Trout Unlimited.