2015 Riverwalk Results
Results from the Santa Ana Riverwalk have been documented in the annually updated Riverwalk Atlas. The Atlas provides a map-based summary of the data collected during the annual survey event.
The data reflected in the Atlas has been gathered since the initial year of the Riverwalk in 2006. That year the first group of Santa Ana Sucker Fish Conservation Team members, local volunteers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service staff, and California Department of Fish & Wildlife staff volunteered their time and resources to document the quality of aquatic habitat in the Santa Ana River.
The primary purpose of the Riverwalk is to survey the status of the Santa Ana sucker fish’s habitat. The data gathering techniques used during the Riverwalk are described in the training video. Doing a regional survey is useful because the data gathered can be integrated with other habitat and fish surveys. It allows different entities, who may collect other data, to compare their data to the Riverwalk survey and track trends.
Data is collected at approximately the same geo-located points each year, with each point labeled with a designating number: one through 118. Points one through eight are often too dry to sample. As shown in the Riverwalk Atlas document, which summarizes the data collected annually from 2006-2015, habitat is documented at the 118 points as poor, marginal and excellent using the following scale for information-sharing purposes:
•“Poor” Habitat: 30% (or less) of the area of that data point has been surveyed as gravel/cobble;
•“Marginal” Habitat: 31% to 65% of the area of that data point has been surveyed as gravel/cobble; and
•“Excellent” Habitat: 66% (or more) of the area of that data point has been surveyed as gravel/cobble.
In viewing the Atlas, note the locations of the habitat that has been documented as “poor”, “marginal” and “excellent.”
The Santa Ana sucker is primarily a bottom feeder so a river bottom with a mixture of sand, gravel and cobble is ideal for the algae that the fish feeds on. Spawning can also take place over gravel and cobble riffles. Open stream reaches with shifting sandy substrates are typically less suitable for algae, and hence, less suitable as habitat for Santa Ana suckers.
About the Santa Ana Sucker Conservation Team
The Conservation Team, administered by the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, conducts the Riverwalk each year. The Team uses the data collected from the Riverwalk to evaluate the condition of the fish habitat. Various projects and studies aimed at recovering the Santa Ana sucker are funded by the Santa Ana Sucker Conservation Team member agencies, which include Orange County Water District and the City of Riverside.
A Volunteer Effort
Thanks to all the volunteers who came out on October 8, 2015 to make the 2015 Riverwalk possible. If you want to learn more about the Santa Ana sucker, the work going into its recovery and meet staff and other volunteers involved in the world of water and natural resources management, we encourage you to participate in the 2016 Riverwalk. Please stay tuned this fall for an announcement of the event’s date. If you have any questions, contact Ian Achimore via email: iachimore at sawpa.org.