The goal of Permanente Re-Imagined is to connect the upper reaches of Permanente Creek, including those within Rancho San Antonio Regional Park and approximately 3.5 miles of court-ordered fish habitat within the Lehigh Cement property, with steelhead and other anadromous fish in San Francisco Bay. It is important to realize that Permanente Creek was once a tributary of Stevens Creek.
The biggest barrier to migrating fish is the 1.5 mile concrete Permanente-Stevens Creek Diversion Channel. Modifying this channel to allow fish passage would add about 9 miles of steelhead habitat to the combined watershed.
As can be seen on the 1862 map by G. F. Allardt, commissioned by the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad at the left; Permanente Creek which was called Arroyo Permanente and Hale Creek (un-named on this map) was physically connected to Stevens Creek, then called Cupertino Creek. Later, both creeks were straightened and rerouted to drain to the bay, thus allowing for the development of more farm land, homes and roads. The road to the north of the junction of the creeks labled county road became El Camino Real.
Steelhead trout, once plentiful in all streams of Santa Clara Valley, are now on the brink of extinction in a few creeks and have been completely lost in the majority of our county creeks. Loss of habitat and man-made barriers are the major causes of species demise. In 1959, in response to a flooding event, a 1.5 mile concrete trapezoidal channel was built to divert flood waters from Permanente Creek into Stevens Creek. There is a small population of steelhead in Stevens Creek but the upper reaches are inaccessible due to a blockage caused by Stevens Creek Dam. The Diversion Channel, if modified, would open up approximately 9 miles of habitat for threatened steelhead. On Earth Day 2013, Lehigh Cement signed a consent decree with Sierra Club to restore fish habitat on the 3.5 miles of Permanente creek within Lehigh property, spurring the formation of this collaborative.
Santa Clara Valley Water District, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and a private individual have provided a round of funds for fish habitat studies.
We have also been awarded a grant from the Rose Foundation for engineering feasibility studies. Other organizations that have expressed support are as listed: NOAA Fisheries, Northern California Council of Federation of Fly Fishers, American Rivers, Sierra Club, GreenTown Los Altos and others.
We believe we will need approximately $100.000 for an 80% engineering plan and between $2-12 million for full restoration.
Permanente Re-Imagined is under the fiscal sponsorship of Guadalupe Coyote Resource Conservation District.