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Project Summary


Climate change may affect the ability to achieve on-the-ground project goals and objectives. The following case study demonstrates how climate change vulnerability and adaptation information can be integrated into existing and future regional watershed improvement projects to increase overall project resilience. For this example, resource managers and regional stakeholders worked together to evaluate: 1) how climate and non-climate vulnerabilities could impact the ability to achieve project goals, 2) what current project actions help to address or minimize vulnerabilities, and 3) what new actions could be added to the project to address remaining vulnerabilities. While this specific project has already been completed, developing and revising watershed improvement plans is a common activity in southern California, and this type of process could easily be replicated in future projects.

Trabuco Creek Project Goals & Actions

The Cleveland National Forest conducted a watershed improvement project in Trabuco Creek, a stream in the semi- arid Santa Ana Mountains with high recreation use, including multiple private recreation residences, and several instream dams and hardened road crossings (i.e., fords). The goals of this project were to:

  1. Improve aquatic organism passage by increasing and maintaining stream habitat connectivity; and

  2. Improve stream and riparian habitat quality, sustainability, function, and availability for fish, reptiles,

    amphibians, and birds.

Primary project actions included:

  • Remove barriers to aquatic organism passage (e.g., small-scale, non-functioning instream fords and dams)

  • Add channel complexity

  • Remove invasive vegetation 


Project Keywords

Recommended Citation

Kershner, J.M., L.E. Hilberg, and W.A. Reynier. 2017. The Trabuco Creek Watershed Improvement Project: A Southern California Climate Change Adaptation Case Study. Retrieved from CAKE: