Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA)

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An environmental summary created by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.

CRSA Logo. Image:


The Carmel River Steelhead Association (CRSA) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with volunteers and conservationists dedicated to the restoration of the Carmel River and its native Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).[1] They were founded in 1974 by local environmental leaders Robert Hughett and Ray Wermuth and received their 501(c)(3) credentials in 1988.[2] The mission of CRSA is to emphasize the "restoration and conservation of the South-Central Coastal district Segment of California Steelhead Trout" primarily in the Carmel River watershed. [2] They are the only organization working on the Carmel River whose focus is only on Steelhead trout. [2] CRSA has four officers and a ten person board of directors.

Carmel River Steelhead Association Officers

  • Brian LeNeve, President
  • Frank Emerson, Vice President
  • Ray Bergara, Treasurer
  • Hallie Heath, Secretary

Carmel River Steelhead Association Board of Directors

  • Carla Moss
  • Sam Davidson
  • John Schweisinger
  • Koney Eng
  • Robert Stoddard
  • Tom Pelikan
  • Jaime Eltit
  • James Jeffery III
  • Luke Coletti
  • Roy Thomas


The projects taken on by the Carmel River Steelhead Association include Fish Rescues, Habitat Improvements, and Water Advocacy.[3]

Fish Rescues

CRSA and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District (MPWMD) collaborated on Steelhead trout rescues in the Carmel River from 1989 to 1996. Beginning in 1997, CRSA began keeping rescue records separate from MPWMD. [4] Every year, CRSA members & volunteers go out and search the areas known to go dry and strand fish for Steelhead trout. CRSA members and volunteers must utilize a permit acquired from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that allows a certain number of Steelhead to be taken from the Carmel River [5]They relocate these fish to the mainstem Carmel River that will not go dry. [6]

In addition, they provide fish rescue results by year on their website. [6]

Habitat Improvements

The focus of these habitat improvement projects are to provide favorable habitat for Steelhead to survive and thrive. [7] In 1997, the American Rivers listed the Carmel one of many endangered rivers in the US.

Completed Habitat Projects listed on the CSRA website include[8]:

  • CRSA Gabion Project
  • Extending Los Padres Dam Spillway
  • Notching Los Padres Dam Spillyway Lip
  • Removing Los Padres Dam Spillway Boulders
  • Building Ladder and Trap
  • Large Woody Debris. Phase 1
  • Finch Creek Fish Passage Barrier Removal
  • Supplemental Water for the Lagoon
  • Helping Monterey Bay Salmon and Trout Project

Current Habitat Projects listed on the CSRA website include [9]:

  • Large Woody Debris, Phase II
  • Carmel Watershed Cleanups
  • Supplmental Water, Phase II

Planned Habitat Projects listed on the CSRA website include [10]:

Water Advocacy

As the Carmel River has been a main water source for the Monterey County area resulting in excess pumping of the aquifer. The need for this limited water source has led CRSA to be an advocate to keep some water for the fish. The association says that they attend meetings, comment of environmental documents, protest excess water withdrawals, bring up illegal actions to appropriate bodies, and in general fight for the rights of fish.

Some of their listed Water Advocacy accomplishments are [11]:

  • 2009 SWRCB Water Order 09-60
    • The CSRA filed a complaint with SWRCB about Order 95-10 not being enforced and illegal pumping was occurring. The complaint led to hearings with Cal Am and resulted in the SWRCB issuing theWater Order 09-60.
  • 2014 Cease and Desist Order Extension
    • CSRA lobbied for significant mitigations should the Water Order 09-60(Cease and Desist Order) be extended. Cal Am agreed to spend up to $2.5 million for these mitigations. The projects that Cal Am agreed to included additional spawning gravel injections below Los Padres Reservoir, improvements to the existing upstream fish passage ladder at Los Padres Dam, installation of a fish screen on Los Padres Dam, a pit tagging program, and a survival study for Los Padres Reservoir.
  • 2015 Pacific Grove Local Water Project
    • The City of Pacific Grove created a Pacific Grove Local Water Project (PGLWP)[13] that would treat wastewater for use on the Pacific Grove golf course and a local cemetery. In 2015, Pacific Grove issued a draft supplemental EIR for the project asking for more water. CRSA protected the supplemental EIR. The SWRCB authorized the City of Pacific Grove's one percent loan but due to the Cease and Desist Order did not allow hookups for new or expanded water use.


  1. Carmel River Steelhead Association Social Media Account - Facebook
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 CRSA Website - About
  3. Carmel River Steelhead Association - Project Overviews
  4. CRSA and MPWMD Fish Rescues
  5. . CRSA Permit Information
  6. 6.0 6.1 Carmel River Steelhead Association - Fish Rescues
  7. . CRSA Habitat Improvement
  8. Carmel River Steelhead Association - Completed Projects
  9. CSRA Current Projects
  10. CRSA - Future Projects
  11. Carmel River Steelhead Association Website Page on their Water Advocacy Accomplishments
  12. Carmel River Steelhead Association Lagoon Notice of Intent to Sue
  13. City of Pacific Grove Local Water Project Website



This page may contain student work completed as part of assigned coursework. It may not be accurate. It does not necessary reflect the opinion or policy of CSUMB, its staff, or students.