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Smith River © California Trout

Restoring streamflows for fish, farms and communities

About the Coalition

The California Salmon & Steelhead Coalition is a partnership among three organizations — Trout Unlimited, California Trout and The Nature Conservancy — that are working together to increase streamflows in California’s North and Central Coast watersheds, with the goal of restoring streamflows to benefit salmon and steelhead habitat while improving water supply reliability for people.

Butte Creek © The Nature Conservancy

Restoring streamflows for fish, farms and communities

Chinook, Upper Blue Creek © The Nature Conservancy

Of the many factors that have led to the decline of Northern and Central California’s formerly abundant populations of salmon and steelhead, one of the most vexing is lack of sufficient streamflow.

Many streams that once provided cold, clear water for spawning and rearing fish are now severely dewatered particularly during the region’s long summer dry season and in times of drought.

Big River View © The Conservation Fund

Low streamflows are caused by people taking too much water from streams at the wrong times. Solutions are hard to come by, because proposed fixes reckon with the complex set of laws that govern the diversion and use of water — as well as an equally complex body of streamflow science.

Because few organizations have had the expertise or resources to take on these challenges, the problem has gone largely unaddressed.

© The Nature Conservancy


Low Flows Despite a Wealth of Water

The North Coast is actually blessed with a natural abundance of water: Most streams provide far more flow over the course of the year to meet the needs of both fish and people.

The problem is one of timing: Most of this flow comes during the winter wet season, when rainfall is highest and human water need is lowest.

The seasonal imbalance of supply and demand causes streams to dry up in the late summer and early fall, killing young fish and forcing people to ration water.


The Coalition focuses on helping people to change their practices to take advantage of the natural abundance of water in the North and Central Coast regions.

Casting call at the Capitol © California Trout

Water Policy

Adapting water law and policy to enable new solutions

Westminster Woods storage and forbearance © Trout Unlimited

Collaborative Water Management

Creating models for collaborative water management that meet the needs of fish and people

© Kevin Arnold

Streamflow Science

Science provides the foundation for all of the Coalition’s work to improve North and Central Coast streamflows. It supports our policy strategies by defining the problems to be solved, providing a basis for proposed solutions and promoting productive partnerships with agency staff.

Dry ground vs a healthy river

Drought Response

2021 was one of the driest years on record in California and 2022 is shaping up to be even worse. Our rivers — the source of life for fish, wildlife, and people — are running dry.