Octa's transportation blog

Dam Removal Helps Restore Orange County Ecosystem

Deep in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange County, a group of small manmade dams once slowed and altered water flow essential for the health of native species. Through OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, OCTA contributed funds to help remove dams in the San Juan, Trabuco and Holy Jim creeks. This effort enables endangered species, like the native Arroyo chub fish, to move more freely and naturally and contributes to restoring Orange County’s ecosystem.

With OCTA funding, the United States Forest Service (USFS) removed the original targeted 14 dams from San Juan Creek, plus additional dams and dam remnants in the other creeks. Each area was reshaped to reestablish a more natural stream channel to enhance the migration of California steelhead trout, Arroyo chub and other native wildlife.

Most of the dams were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public works program begun during the Great Depression. Dams in national forests are not uncommon, but Southern California has an unusually high concentration.

OCTA safeguards the environment throughout the year with programs that preserve and restore open-space land, keep trash out of waterways and protect Orange County’s coastline.

Photos courtesy of United States Forest Service