California officials have ordered increased water flows on the Santa Ynez River in Santa Barbara County to protect endangered steelhead trout.
The State Water Resources Control Board says Tuesday that its action follows two decades of legal efforts to address long-term declines in native fish populations in the Santa Ynez.
The order requires the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to increase flows below Cachuma Reservoir to provide additional habitat for steelhead. To minimize impacts on local water users, higher flows will be required only during wetter years.
Historically, the Santa Ynez was a major spawning ground that supported the largest steelhead run in Southern California. Damming the river in 1953 stored runoff for the Santa Barbara area, but blocked off crucial fish habitat.
Southern California steelhead have been federally listed as an endangered species since