The Last Coho of the Santa Cruz Mountains


Coho Salmon via Flickr

Alexander Luckow

Scott Creek is a small stream located on the western edge of the Ben Lomond mountain. This little creek is pretty unassuming from the surface. Yet, this little creek may be one of the last safe refuges for Coho Salmon in the Santa Cruz mountains.

In Santa Cruz’s old days, many of the rivers in the Santa Cruz mountains were famous for their salmon runs, with many tourists coming down to Santa Cruz to fish for Pink, Coho and Chinook Salmon. However, due to dams, overfishing, extensive human settlement along the river’s edge, and septic tank issues, the salmon population of the Santa Cruz mountains took a huge hit and their population fell sharply, especially after the 1960s.

However, some parts of the Santa Cruz mountains have managed to maintain a stable salmon population through natural and artificial means. According to a study about the watersheds in the Santa Cruz mountains, “ …the Scott Creek estuary comprises less than 5% of the watershed area, it is critical nursery habitat, as estuary-reared juveniles make a disproportionate contribution to the spawning adult pool” (Steelhead/Rainbow). Therefore, this small creek in the Santa Cruz mountains may be key to helping restore the salmon population throughout the valley, as salmon populations can be transported to different rivers from the Scott Creek watershed.

Additionally, hatcheries around the Santa Cruz mountains have been trying to rear more salmon hatchlings so more fish can be deposited throughout the creeks and rivers in Santa Cruz. So far, “The hatchery can produce up to about 45,000 steelhead smolts for supplementing the populations of the San Lorenzo River and Scotts Creek. 40,000 for San Lorenzo and 5,000 for Scotts Creek” (Hatchery). Therefore, there are significant efforts underway to help restore salmon populations in the mountains to their formal levels. 

The purpose of talking about salmon in San Lorenzo is to raise awareness for how we can protect these magnificent fish for the next generation. Only through careful planning and conservation efforts will we be able to protect this treasure of these mountains.



none. (n.d.). Hatchery. Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project. hatchery%20can%20 produce%20up,populations%20and%20are%20not%20mixed. 

None. (n.d.). Steelhead/Rainbow Trout Resources of Santa Cruz County. Steelhead/rainbow trout resources of Santa Cruz County.