2016 Riverwalk Results

Results from the 2016 Santa Ana Riverwalk, which was conducted on October 6, 2016, have been uploaded into 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 following training video. Conducting 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 points each year, with each point labeled with a designating number: one through 118. Some points are often too dry to sample so data collectors move to the closest wetted portion of the river channel to collect data for the designated point. As shown in the Riverwalk Atlas document, which summarizes the data collected annually from 2006-2016, habitat is documented at the 118 points as poor, marginal and excellent using a tiered scale developed with the Santa Ana Sucker Fish Conservation Team’s partners.

The 2016 Rivewalk data shows that the data points in the upstream portions of the River, from the Rialto Channel to the Highway 60 crossing, had the most marginal or excellent substrate since the 2013 Riverwalk (Note: the Drought State of Emergency was declared by the California Governor in January 2014).

The 2016 Riverwalk data also shows that there were 15 data points observed as having marginal or excellent substrate between the River Road Bridge crossing and the Highway 60 crossing downstream segment, which are more data points in that segment than any other Riverwalk.

About the Santa Ana Sucker Fish

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 SASCT-Logo

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 approximately forty volunteers who attended on October 6, 2016 to make the 2016 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 2017 Riverwalk. Please stay tuned next fall for an announcement of the event’s date. The announcement will be distributed through the SAWPA email distribution list. If you have any questions, contact Ian Achimore via email: iachimore at sawpa.org.