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Twitchell Dam Operators Can Preserve Steelhead, Court Rules

Sept. 23, 2022, 8:18 PM

California’s Bureau of Reclamation and the Santa Maria Water District have discretion to release water from the Twitchell Dam to preserve the endangered Southern California Steelhead trout, a US appeals court said Friday, reversing a district court decision that found the operators couldn’t use the dam for anything other than to conserve water.

San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Los Padres Forest Watch sued the agencies, claiming that their operation of the dam interferes with the steelhead’s reproductive migration, which constitutes an unlawful take—killing or harming—in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The US District Court for the Central District of ...