In the rush to populate and provide for our cities, mankind has often built and changed the natural environment without thought to how their actions affected the wildlife population in a particular area. In the Pacific Northwest, we’re seeing a movement to take down many of the hydroelectric dams that drastically changed the river ecosystems in which they were built. The benefit to salmon population, and thus salmon fishing, has been dramatic.

Positive results like the one above has spurred professionals in other arenas to follow suit and think about restoring natural spaces. The Malibu Lagoon in Southern California is a prime example. In this article from Southern California Public Radio, find out how the controversial methods used at the Malibu Lagoon are having positive effects on the steelhead population.

steelhead_denekiA 20-inch long adult steelhead trout has been spotted in Malibu Lagoon — a sighting that some say is proof that recent restoration efforts there are paying off.

“It’s an indication to us that the water quality is very good, and it just gives them some additional habitat, because they’ve been cut off from a lot of their habitat upstream,” said Suzanne Goode, a senior environmental scientist at California State Parks.

 The steelhead trout is endangered and hasn’t been seen in the lagoon for decades. For years the site was filled with a buildup of contaminated soil and trash, leading to lower oxygen levels in the water.

Last year, the state finished a major dredging and restoration project. It was controversial, because many worried it would harm wildlife that had taken up residence there.

“The project had a lot of critics during its implementation, because people didn’t believe that you should use a bulldozer in a sensitive habitat. The counter to that is that when you fill in a wetland with bulldozers and let that dirt stay there for 70 years, the only way to get it out again is to use more bulldozers,” Goode said. “We feel somewhat vindicated to our critics who said that we were going to kill everything.”

Photos: SCPR (top); Deneki (above)