The San Mateo Resource Conservation District (RCD), as Lead Agency under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), issued a Notice of Exemption for the Mindego Creek Fish Passage Project. This project is exempt under CEQA according to Class 33, Section 15333: Small Habitat Restoration Projects. The project is for the purpose of habitat restoration and protection of fish and wildlife habitat and is less than five acres in size. There would be no significant adverse impact on endangered, rare, or threatened species and the barrier remediation actions have been designed according to CDFW and NOAA fisheries guidelines.

Project Summary
The Mindego Creek Fish Passage Project (project) will restore fish passage for federally threatened steelhead trout and federally endangered coho salmon to 5 miles of habitat on Mindego Creek. As part of the San Gregorio Watershed Enhancement Program, the San Mateo Resource Conservation District has been working to identify and address high priority fish passage barriers including the Mindego Creek dam and Denil ladder.

The project is located on Mindego Creek, approximately 0.5 miles upstream of the confluence with Alpine Creek, the main tributary to San Gregorio Creek. The barrier consists of a 6-foot-high concrete dam, Denil-style fish ladder, and water diversion infrastructure. The existing fish ladder is prone to clogging, which frequently renders it unpassable to fish. The hydraulic drop over the dam is a complete barrier to passage when the ladder becomes clogged.

The objectives of the project are to 1. restore fish passage by removing instream barriers, 2. improve instream habitat to benefit salmonids and other aquatic and riparian species by increasing complexity, and 3. maintain a functional water diversion for the landowner that will not entrap fish. The project will meet these objectives by removing the dam and fish ladder barriers, reconstructing 310 feet of channel, incorporating elements like large woody debris to enhance creek complexity and create fish refugia, relocate the diversion intake, and install a fish screen on the intake pipe.

The Notice of Exemption and Certificate of Determination of Exemption/Exclusion from Environmental Review can be found on the Office of Planning and Research CEQAnet Web Portal here (State Clearinghouse Number 2020080542).