Fish Anthology of Los Angeles State Parks

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Compiled by
Robert 'Roy' J. van de Hoek
Field Biologist & Geographer
Sierra Club & Wetlands Action Network

The native freshwater fishes found in the Greater Los Angeles Riverine Ecosystem (GLARE) have suffered a fate of extinction, extirpation, and endangerment (three E's) unlike any other region of California. The native fishes that are found nowhere else in the world naturally, except in the GLARE, have suffered too much. These native fishes have been living in our Los Angeles rivers and creeks far longer than humans have been around. The fishes have evolved into unique types over geologic time, for about the last two million years. And yet in the course of just the last 80 years since the urban growth of Los Angeles exploded as a result of the allure of the Hollywood movie-industry and aerospace industry of the 1920s-1930s, these native fish began to go by the wayside. More than any other factor, people came to Los Angeles due to jobs and allure, either directly or indirectly. Advertising that promoted the fine winter weather of LA and the ocean seashore beauty convince many people to come to the budding megalopolis. As the people came, many of them not landing a job in Hollywood or Aerospace, the settled in for lower status jobs in the various service industries. Then heavy winters and floods came in 1938, followed by World War II, which resulted in a new politics of armoring and erasing our rivers and creeks from the Los Angeles landscape. Now, 60+ years later however, the urban mass of citizens are clamoring desperately for open space and parks due to being crowded. "Angelinos" are all packed together like "sardines." It was natural for citizens to look to the cemented rivers and creeks that were straightjacketed for parks and open space. Some creeks and their tributaries had been put underground after 1938, not seeing daylight. Consequently, life perished in all these streams, particularly fish, plants, and insects, upon which the larger mammals and birds, such as Herons, Eagles, Ducks, Frogs and Turtles fed upon. This web page attempts to compile an anthology of fish articles with suggestions for recovery and restoration (R&R) of our rivers and creeks. Not just for parks, nature, children, education, and biodiversity, but for a liveable city in our post-modern city. The science-based disciplines of ecology, biology, hydrology, and geomorphology, must be allowed to lead and guide the way to a future time of restored and recovered watersheds. Citizens and politicians must critque the scientists, by becoming environmentally literate, some even becoming avocational ecologists and geomorphologists along the way. Communication and education will be needed. Listening and reading carefully to what the environmentalists and scientists are communicating will mean that the politicians and citizens can no longer be environmentally illiterate. The schism is great currently between the environmentally literate and environmentally illiterate. Unless this rift is closed, pollution will continue to increase, and parks for nature and recreation will languish. Humans will get more stressed resulting in more cancer and illness. Both pollution and stress together, a poisoned air and food, will ultimately lead to chaos, famine, disease, and malaise.

California State Parks is leading the way for a geography of hope. They have managed Malibu Lagoon State Park successfully with the recovery of Tidewater Goby. They allow the lagoon to close in the summer and it became freshwater for the summer months. Similarly, Topanga Canyon was just acquired by California State Parks, including the estuarine lagoonal wetland and seashore. California State Parks has taken an active interest in a Los Angeles River State Park and discusses the return of the Steelhead Trout. It looks like there may be a Ballona Estuary State Park in the making, again to the benefit of the fish and the many herons that depend on the fish. On the San Gabriel River, there may be a Cerritos Wetland on the way to going to California State Parks, as well some land near Chino Hills State Park which is on the San Gabriel River watershed. And then lastly, the Santa Ana River watershed could be merged with Bolsa Chica State Park and future Upper Newport Bay State Park. On the nearby Santa Clara River in Ventura County, California State Parks owns the river mouth of coastal wetlands at McGrath Beach State Park. As well, a part of the upper watershed of Santa Clara River is in Placerita Canyon State Park. Two other major streams in the Santa Monica Mountains are already State Parks at Arroyo Sequit in Leo Carrillo State Park and Big Sycamore Canyon at Mugu State Park. In the future, we may see Dockweiller Beach State Park expanded to link it to the Ballona Wetlands and the El Segundo Dunes. So it is plainly obvious by now, that California State Parks has its feet firmly planted in wetland habitats of the coast and inland in southern California. California State Parks is to be thanked and embraced. We need to nourish and expand California State Parks. We need to get to know this great California agency better.

Fishes of the Santa Ana System Streams in Southern California.
By G.B. Culver & C.L. Hubbs, 1917. Lorquinia 1:82-83.

The Fish Fauna of Ballona Marsh, An Urban Estuary on the Western Los Angeles Basin.
By Camm Swift, 1998. In: Californnia And The World Ocean '97: Taking a Look at California's Ocean Resources, An Agenda for the Future.

Early California Wetlands. By Camm Swift, 1997. In: Tidelines, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Newsletter.

The Tidewater Goby. By Camm Swift, 1997. In: Tidelines, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Newsletter.

The Status and Distribution of the Freshwater Fishes of Southern California.
By Camm Swift, 1993. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.

Southern California Fish Region. By Peter Moyle, 1976. In: Inland Fishes of California. University of California Press. 405p.

Striped Mullet in Southern California Estuaries.
By John Fitch & Robert Lavenberg, 1975. In Tidepool & Nearshore Fishes of California. University of California Press. 156p.

Description of Panthosteus santa-anae. By J.O. Snyder, 1908. In Proceedings of U.S. National Museum 59:23-28.