Sweetwater River (California)
The Sweetwater River is a 55-mile long stream in San Diego County, California. From its headwaters high in the Cuyamaca Mountains, the river flows southwest, first through rugged hinterlands but into the urban areas surrounding its mouth at San Diego Bay, its drainage basin covers all of it within San Diego County. Towns on the river include La Presa and Chula Vista; the term "Sweetwater" is a name given to freshwater which tastes good in regions where much of the water is bitter to the taste. The Spanish called the river "Agua Dulce", a name they applied to good clear water anywhere they lived; the river rises as an intermittent trickle flowing out of Upper Green Valley, deep in the semi-arid Cuyamaca Mountains near Stonewall Peak. It flows south-southwest, receiving Harper Creek from the left and Stonewall Creek from the right coursing through narrow valleys and passing the small town of Descanso; as the river enters the Cleveland National Forest, it cuts through a steep and spectacular rocky gorge and crosses under a high bridge of Interstate 8.
Shortly after leaving the national forest, it flows into Loveland Reservoir, formed by Loveland Dam, the first of two major dams along the Sweetwater. Continuing westwards, it receives the North Fork from the right, travels by the city of Rancho San Diego and passes through the Rancho San Diego Golf Course; the river enters Sweetwater Reservoir, formed by the Sweetwater Dam. Below the dam, the Sweetwater flows through Sweetwater Regional Park in a suburban area, passing the city of Bonita. Bending northwest, the river enters a flood control channel and passes between National City and Chula Vista. California State Route 54 straddles the river, with eastbound lanes to the south and westbound lanes to the north, for a few miles between I-5 and I-805; the tidal portion of the river, which starts here, is called the Sweetwater Marsh. The river empties into San Diego Bay about 7.5 miles southeast of downtown San Diego. This river drains a long, narrow basin of 230 square miles in extreme southern California, with its mouth less than 20 miles north of the United States-Mexico border.
Much of the river's watershed is mountainous, the highest point is 5,730 feet above sea level at Stonewall Peak in the Cuyamacas Mountains. A large portion of the drainage lies within the Cleveland National Forest, but few trees are supported by the arid climate; the Sweetwater is the largest river flowing into San Diego Bay. Most of the drainage, nearly 64 percent, comprises open space; however 30% is urban development and part of the San Diego metro area. Native American reservations occupy part of the land; the watershed has a human population of over 300,000. The eastern drainage divide of the Sweetwater watershed lies on the main divide of the Cuyamacas, which separates streams of the Pacific slope from streams draining to the endorheic basin of the Salton Sea farther to the east. To the north, the Sweetwater basin shares borders with those of the San Diego River and the smaller streams that drain portions of National City and San Diego. On the south, it is bordered by the Otay River and Tijuana River drainages – for the Tijuana, the subwatershed of Cottonwood Creek, the river's main tributary in the U.
S. Before reaching San Diego Bay, the river flows into 316-acre Sweetwater Marsh, a part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge. Adjacent to the marsh is the Chula Vista Nature Center hosting nature walks and an aviary with native birds such as burrowing owls and herons. In pre-Anglo times, the Sweetwater River was a small but year-round stream, lined on both banks by extensive riparian forests and floodplains, it is believed that humans first arrived in the San Diego Bay area between 20,000 and 30,000 years ago. Native American tribes on the river were subdivisions of the Kumeyaay or Diegueño ethnic group, their villages included Sekwan and Hamacha on the middle portion of the stream; the first European to arrive in the region was Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, who sailed his ship, the San Salvador, into San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542. Cabrillo did not stay in the area for long; the Spanish established settlements in the area in the 1760s clustering around Mission San Diego de Alcala. From 1795, the lower part of the watershed was part of the Rancho del Rey under Spain, this land south of the Presidio of San Diego, that became the Rancho de la Nación.
In an attempt to save some of the lands of the San Diego Mission from secularization, their lands in the middle reach of the Sweetwater were given by the mission padres to Apolinaria Lorenzana in 1833. These lands became Rancho San Juan de Las Secuas. After passing from the hands of Mexico to the United States, emigrants began arriving in the San Diego area in great numbers, many of them settling along the Sweetwater, establishing irrigated farms; the Sweetwater Dam was built in 1888 to provide storage for municipal uses. By the late 1800s, the stream was described as having "practically no living water, except at its extreme sources and for 10 or 20 miles down from the summit of the range" because of the large irrigation diversions. On its journey to the sea, the Sweetwater is interrupted by three dams; the first is Palo Verde Dam, a small rockfill structure a
An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock, rock fractures or unconsolidated materials. Groundwater can be extracted using a water well; the study of water flow in aquifers and the characterization of aquifers is called hydrogeology. Related terms include aquitard, a bed of low permeability along an aquifer, aquiclude, a solid, impermeable area underlying or overlying an aquifer. If the impermeable area overlies the aquifer, pressure could cause it to become a confined aquifer. Aquifers may occur at various depths; those closer to the surface are not only more to be used for water supply and irrigation, but are more to be topped up by the local rainfall. Many desert areas have limestone hills or mountains within them or close to them that can be exploited as groundwater resources. Part of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa, the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges between Syria and Lebanon, the Jebel Akhdar in Oman, parts of the Sierra Nevada and neighboring ranges in the United States' Southwest, have shallow aquifers that are exploited for their water.
Overexploitation can lead to the exceeding of the practical sustained yield. Along the coastlines of certain countries, such as Libya and Israel, increased water usage associated with population growth has caused a lowering of the water table and the subsequent contamination of the groundwater with saltwater from the sea. A beach provides a model to help visualize an aquifer. If a hole is dug into the sand wet or saturated sand will be located at a shallow depth; this hole is a crude well, the wet sand represents an aquifer, the level to which the water rises in this hole represents the water table. In 2013 large freshwater aquifers were discovered under continental shelves off Australia, North America and South Africa, they contain an estimated half a million cubic kilometers of "low salinity" water that could be economically processed into potable water. The reserves formed when ocean levels were lower and rainwater made its way into the ground in land areas that were not submerged until the ice age ended 20,000 years ago.
The volume is estimated to be 100 times the amount of water extracted from other aquifers since 1900. The system shows two aquifers with one aquitard between them, surrounded by the bedrock aquiclude, in contact with a gaining stream; the water table and unsaturated zone are illustrated. An aquitard is a zone within the Earth that restricts the flow of groundwater from one aquifer to another. An aquitard can sometimes, if impermeable, be called an aquiclude or aquifuge. Aquitards are composed of layers of either clay or non-porous rock with low hydraulic conductivity. Groundwater can be found at nearly every point in the Earth's shallow subsurface to some degree, although aquifers do not contain fresh water; the Earth's crust can be divided into two regions: the saturated zone or phreatic zone, where all available spaces are filled with water, the unsaturated zone, where there are still pockets of air that contain some water, but can be filled with more water. Saturated means; the definition of the water table is the surface where the pressure head is equal to atmospheric pressure.
Unsaturated conditions occur above the water table where the pressure head is negative and the water that incompletely fills the pores of the aquifer material is under suction. The water content in the unsaturated zone is held in place by surface adhesive forces and it rises above the water table by capillary action to saturate a small zone above the phreatic surface at less than atmospheric pressure; this is not the same as saturation on a water-content basis. Water content in a capillary fringe decreases with increasing distance from the phreatic surface; the capillary head depends on soil pore size. In sandy soils with larger pores, the head will be less than in clay soils with small pores; the normal capillary rise in a clayey soil can range between 0.3 and 10 m. The capillary rise of water in a small-diameter tube involves the same physical process; the water table is the level to which water will rise in a large-diameter pipe that goes down into the aquifer and is open to the atmosphere.
Aquifers are saturated regions of the subsurface that produce an economically feasible quantity of water to a well or spring. An aquitard is a zone within the Earth that restricts the flow of groundwater from one aquifer to another. A impermeable aquitard is called an aquiclude or aquifuge. Aquitards comprise layers of either clay or non-porous rock with low hydraulic conductivity. In mountainous areas, the main aquifers are unconsolidated alluvium, composed of horizontal layers of materials deposited by water processes, which in cross-section appear to be layers of alternating coarse and fine materials. Coarse materials, because of the high energy needed to move them, tend to be found nearer the source, whereas the fine-grained material will make it farther from the source (to the flatter parts of the basin or overbank areas—somet
Tujunga Wash is a 13.0-mile-long stream in Los Angeles County, California. It is a tributary of the Los Angeles River, providing about a fifth of its flow, drains about 225 square miles, it is called a wash because it is dry the lower reaches, only carrying significant flows during and after storms, which only occur between November and April. Tujunga Wash consists of both beginning in the San Gabriel Mountains; the upper portion of Big Tujunga Wash is called Big Tujunga Creek. It travels east to west, several tributaries from the north and south join it as it flows to Big Tujunga Reservoir, formed by Big Tujunga Dam. Below the dam, the stream is called Big Tujunga Wash, it continues its westward flow, enters San Fernando Valley and is met by Little Tujunga Wash a mile before reaching Hansen Reservoir, formed by Hansen Dam. Little Tujunga Wash comes from the north, draining the portion of the San Gabriel Mountains north of Hansen Reservoir. Downstream of the dam, Tujunga Wash flows south and is met halfway to its confluence with the Los Angeles River by Pacoima Wash, which drains the other side of the mountains that Little Tujunga Wash drains.
Tujunga Wash meets the Los Angeles River near Studio City, California. Big Tujunga Dam was built by Los Angeles County and completed in 1931. Big Tujunga Reservoir can hold 5,960 acre feet of water. In the Los Angeles Flood of 1938 it was tested; the dam is undergoing a seismic retrofit, which includes doubling the thickness of the gravity arch dam. Hansen Dam was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1940. Hansen Reservoir can hold 74,100 acre feet of water, their primary purposes are flood control, although they provide some groundwater recharge. Water cannot percolate in the lower portion of the watershed because it is so urbanized that there is little bare ground and streambeds have been transformed into concrete channels, the water flows too fast in the upper reaches of the watershed to sink into the ground much; as a result, the majority of the water is discharged into the ocean. In 1969 there was a flood in the Tujunga Wash: water flowed down a inactive channel and entered a large gravel pit 15 m to 23 m deep.
The channel bed degraded by about 4 meters, leading to failure of three highway bridges and loss of seven homes. From north to south: Great Wall of Los Angeles
Pumped-storage hydroelectricity, or pumped hydroelectric energy storage, is a type of hydroelectric energy storage used by electric power systems for load balancing. The method stores energy in the form of gravitational potential energy of water, pumped from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation. Low-cost surplus off-peak electric power is used to run the pumps. During periods of high electrical demand, the stored water is released through turbines to produce electric power. Although the losses of the pumping process makes the plant a net consumer of energy overall, the system increases revenue by selling more electricity during periods of peak demand, when electricity prices are highest. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity allows energy from intermittent sources and other renewables, or excess electricity from continuous base-load sources to be saved for periods of higher demand; the reservoirs used with pumped storage are quite small when compared to conventional hydroelectric dams of similar power capacity, generating periods are less than half a day.
Pumped storage is the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of 2017, the United States Department of Energy Global Energy Storage Database reports that PSH accounts for over 95% of all active tracked storage installations worldwide, with a total installed nameplate capacity of over 184 GW, of which about 25 GW are in the United States. The round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%, with some sources claiming up to 87%; the main disadvantage of PSH is the specialist nature of the site required, needing both geographical height and water availability. Suitable sites are therefore to be in hilly or mountainous regions, in areas of outstanding natural beauty, therefore there are social and ecological issues to overcome. Many proposed projects, at least in the U. S. avoid sensitive or scenic areas, some propose to take advantage of "brownfield" locations such as disused mines. At times of low electrical demand, excess generation capacity is used to pump water into the upper reservoir.
When there is higher demand, water is released back into the lower reservoir through a turbine, generating electricity. Reversible turbine/generator assemblies act as a combined turbine generator unit. In open-loop systems, pure pumped-storage plants store water in an upper reservoir with no natural inflows, while pump-back plants utilize a combination of pumped storage and conventional hydroelectric plants with an upper reservoir, replenished in part by natural inflows from a stream or river. Plants that do not use pumped-storage are referred to as conventional hydroelectric plants. Taking into account evaporation losses from the exposed water surface and conversion losses, energy recovery of 70-80% or more can be achieved; this technique is the most cost-effective means of storing large amounts of electrical energy, but capital costs and the presence of appropriate geography are critical decision factors in selecting pumped-storage plant sites. The low energy density of pumped storage systems requires either large flows and/or large differences in height between reservoirs.
The only way to store a significant amount of energy is by having a large body of water located near, but as high above as possible, a second body of water. In some places this occurs in others one or both bodies of water were man-made. Projects in which both reservoirs are artificial and in which no natural inflows are involved with either reservoir are referred to as "closed loop" systems; these systems may be economical because they flatten out load variations on the power grid, permitting thermal power stations such as coal-fired plants and nuclear power plants that provide base-load electricity to continue operating at peak efficiency, while reducing the need for "peaking" power plants that use the same fuels as many base-load thermal plants and oil, but have been designed for flexibility rather than maximal efficiency. Hence pumped storage systems are crucial. Capital costs for pumped-storage plants are high, although this is somewhat mitigated by their long service life of up to 75 years or more, three to five times longer than utility-scale batteries.
Along with energy management, pumped storage systems help control electrical network frequency and provide reserve generation. Thermal plants are much less able to respond to sudden changes in electrical demand causing frequency and voltage instability. Pumped storage plants, like other hydroelectric plants, can respond to load changes within seconds; the most important use for pumped storage has traditionally been to balance baseload powerplants, but may be used to abate the fluctuating output of intermittent energy sources. Pumped storage provides a load at times of high electricity output and low electricity demand, enabling additional system peak capacity. In certain jurisdictions, electricity prices may be close to zero or negative on occasions that there is more electrical generation available than there is load available to absorb it, it is likely that pumped storage will become important as a balance for large scale photovoltaic generation. Increased long distance transmission capac
A water turbine is a rotary machine that converts kinetic energy and potential energy of water into mechanical work. Water turbines were developed in the 19th century and were used for industrial power prior to electrical grids. Now they are used for electric power generation. Water turbines are found in dams to generate electric power from water kinetic energy. Water wheels have been used for hundreds of years for industrial power, their main shortcoming is size, which limits the flow head that can be harnessed. The migration from water wheels to modern turbines took about one hundred years. Development occurred during the Industrial revolution, using scientific methods, they made extensive use of new materials and manufacturing methods developed at the time. The word turbine was introduced by the French engineer Claude Burdin in the early 19th century and is derived from the Greek word "τύρβη" for "whirling" or a "vortex"; the main difference between early water turbines and water wheels is a swirl component of the water which passes energy to a spinning rotor.
This additional component of motion allowed the turbine to be smaller than a water wheel of the same power. They could harness much greater heads; the earliest known water turbines date to the Roman Empire. Two helix-turbine mill sites of identical design were found at Chemtou and Testour, modern-day Tunisia, dating to the late 3rd or early 4th century AD; the horizontal water wheel with angled blades was installed at the bottom of a water-filled, circular shaft. The water from the mill-race entered the pit tangentially, creating a swirling water column which made the submerged wheel act like a true turbine. Fausto Veranzio in his book Machinae Novae described a vertical axis mill with a rotor similar to that of a Francis turbine. Johann Segner developed a reactive water turbine in the mid-18th century in Kingdom of Hungary, it was a precursor to modern water turbines. It is a simple machine, still produced today for use in small hydro sites. Segner worked with Euler on some of the early mathematical theories of turbine design.
In the 18th century, a Dr. Robert Barker invented a similar reaction hydraulic turbine that became popular as a lecture-hall demonstration; the only known surviving example of this type of engine used in power production, dating from 1851, is found at Hacienda Buena Vista in Ponce, Puerto Rico. In 1820, Jean-Victor Poncelet developed an inward-flow turbine. In 1826, Benoît Fourneyron developed an outward-flow turbine; this was an efficient machine. The stationary outlet had curved guides. In 1844, Uriah A. Boyden developed an outward flow turbine that improved on the performance of the Fourneyron turbine, its runner shape was similar to that of a Francis turbine. In 1849, James B. Francis improved the inward flow reaction turbine to over 90% efficiency, he conducted sophisticated tests and developed engineering methods for water turbine design. The Francis turbine, named for him, is the first modern water turbine, it is still the most used water turbine in the world today. The Francis turbine is called a radial flow turbine, since water flows from the outer circumference towards the centre of runner.
Inward flow water turbines have a better mechanical arrangement and all modern reaction water turbines are of this design. As the water swirls inward, it accelerates, transfers energy to the runner. Water pressure decreases to atmospheric, or in some cases subatmospheric, as the water passes through the turbine blades and loses energy. Around 1890, the modern fluid bearing was invented, now universally used to support heavy water turbine spindles; as of 2002, fluid bearings appear to have a mean time between failures of more than 1300 years. Around 1913, Viktor Kaplan created a propeller-type machine, it was an evolution of the Francis turbine but revolutionized the ability to develop low-head hydro sites. All common water machines until the late 19th century were reaction machines. A reaction turbine needs to contain the water during energy transfer. In 1866, California millwright Samuel Knight invented a machine that took the impulse system to a new level. Inspired by the high pressure jet systems used in hydraulic mining in the gold fields, Knight developed a bucketed wheel which captured the energy of a free jet, which had converted a high head of water to kinetic energy.
This is called tangential turbine. The water's velocity twice the velocity of the bucket periphery, does a U-turn in the bucket and drops out of the runner at low velocity. In 1879, Lester Pelton, experimenting with a Knight Wheel, developed a Pelton wheel, which exhausted the water to the side, eliminating some energy loss of the Knight wheel which exhausted some water back against the center of the wheel. In about 1895, William Doble improved on Pelton's half-cylindrical bucket form with an elliptical bucket that included a cut in it to allow the jet a cleaner bucket entry; this is the modern form of the Pelton turbine. Pelton had been quite an effective promoter of his design and although Doble took over the Pelton company he did not change the name to Doble because it had brand name recognition. Turgo and cross-flow turbines were impulse designs. Flowing water is directed on to the blades of a turbine runner, creating a force on the
Piru Creek is a major stream, about 71 miles long, in northern Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County, California. It is a tributary of the Santa Clara River, the largest stream system in Southern California, still natural; the creek drains an area of about 497 square miles, making it the Santa Clara River's biggest tributary in terms of watershed size. Most of the creek above Lake Piru is located in the Los Padres National Forest. There are two major reservoirs on Piru Creek, Lake Piru and Pyramid Lake, which store water for local irrigation and the California State Water Project. Piru Creek originates as several small springs on the north side of Pine Mountain Ridge in the Santa Ynez Mountains, in the Los Padres National Forest, it flows eastwards through a gentle valley. After the Cedar Creek confluence the stream turns northeast, receives Sheep Creek from the left, Mutau Creek from the right. Piru Creek receives Lockwood Creek from the left at Sunset campground on Lockwood Flat, flows east into a canyon where the valley walls pull in and rise steeper and higher above the river.
The Smith Fork of Piru Creek, with headwaters in the San Emigdio Mountains, comes in from the left about 5 miles south of Gorman. Piru Creek turns southeast and enters the Pyramid Lake reservoir impounded behind Pyramid Dam, which stores imported water from the West Branch of the California Aqueduct for Ventura County and Los Angeles County. Interstate 5 runs a 1,000 feet above the east side of the reservoir/former canyon. Below Pyramid Dam, Piru Creek maintains a constant flow due to releases of reservoir water, it turns south and flows through the Topatopa Mountains via the Piru Gorge and along old route of Hwy 99−Pyramid Dam Road, forming the boundary between Mount Pinos and Saugus Ranger Districts of the Los Padres National Forest and dropping over Piru Creek Falls. The creek flows south, still along the route of old Hwy 99−Pyramid Dam Road and through Cherry Canyon, to Frenchman's Flat and the confluence with Osito Creek; the creek turns to the west entering another gorge south through it where it receives from the right Fish Creek of the northeastern Cobblestone Mountain watershed, ephemeral Turtle Creek and Michael Creek, from the right Agua Blanca Creek of the western and southern Cobblestone Mountain watershed.
It crosses the boundary between Los Angeles County and Ventura County five times before leaving the Los Padres National Forest and being impounded behind Santa Felicia Dam in Lake Piru, the second reservoir on the creek. Below this point the canyon widens and the creek becomes a wide gravelly wash, it reaches the Santa Clara River Valley at the town of Piru, crosses under State Route 126 to join the Santa Clara River. Thousands of years ago, Native Americans of the Chumash group lived in the area, but by 500 CE, their former territory along Piru Creek had been occupied by the Tataviam, it is believed that there were once up to 25 Native American villages on the river, of which eight have been studied. Spanish explorer Don Gaspar first traveled up the creek in 1769. In 1839, the government of Mexico which held control over Alta California granted the 48,612-acre Rancho San Francisco to Antonio del Valle; the Rancho Camulos was created out of Rancho San Francisco land by Ygnacio del Valle in 1853, included much of the Santa Clara River and Piru Creek Valleys.
In 1842, traces of gold were found on a tributary of the Santa Clara River, Placerita Creek, which joins the main stem about 10 miles upstream of Piru. By the late 19th century, prospectors discovered traces of calcite on Piru Creek in Lockwood Valley near Frazier Mountain, north of present-day Pyramid Lake. A town called Lexington was platted near the site in 1887 but never materialized; the real mineral of value in the region turned out to be borax, mined in the 1880s by the Frazier Borate Company. The company town, was established on the Piru in the late 1890s, by 1905 had grown to such a size that a post office was set up in the town, abandoned in 1942 because of dwindling profits from borax mining; the Russell Borate Mining Company acquired land in the region in 1907 between a pair of earlier excavations. By 1912, the Russell mine was the only one left in operation. All the mines were abandoned because of competitions from borax operations in Death Valley. Hiking, off-roading and rock climbing are some of the recreational opportunities in the Los Padres National Forest that surrounds much of the Piru's course.
One well-known trail follows Piru Creek through the lower part of Piru Gorge from Frenchman's Flat to the confluence with Fish Creek, it is possible to continue all the way south from there to Lake Piru with much scrambling and wading. The entire hike can require more than two days to complete, flooding from Piru Creek is a potential danger. In the spring, the stretches of Piru Creek from Pyramid Lake to Lake Piru and from Santa Felicia Dam to the mouth are possible to raft and kayak; the 15-mile first stretch has rapids up to Class IV and includes the challenging section known as Falls Gorge, while the calmer 4-mile second reach has Class I-II rapids only. Controlled water releases from the two dams provide some regulation of the flow although an effort is made to simulate natural discharges; as a result, the section is only runnable after rainfall. From 0.5 miles downstream of Pyramid Dam to the Los Angeles-Ventura County line, Piru Creek in various sections is designated a National Wild and Scenic River.
At one time fishing along Piru Creek was
Sespe Creek is a stream, some 61 miles long, in Ventura County, southern California, in the Western United States. The creek starts at Potrero Seco in the eastern Sierra Madre Mountains, is formed by more than thirty tributary streams of the Sierra Madre and Topatopa Mountains, before it empties into the Santa Clara River in Fillmore. Thirty-one miles of Sespe Creek is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River and National Scenic Waterway, is untouched by dams or concrete channels, it is one of the last wild rivers in Southern California. It is within the southern Los Padres National Forest; the name Sespe can be traced to a Chumash Indian village, called Cepsey, Sek-pe or S'eqpe' in the Chumash language in 1791. The village appeared in a Mexican Alta California land grant called Rancho Sespe or Rancho San Cayetano in 1833; the creek remains free from major habitat modifications and is noteworty for its lack of dams, although one was proposed for a site named Topa Topa near Sespe Hot Springs in the Sespe Wilderness.
After originating above 5,000 feet in the Sierra Madre Mountains in the northwest corner of the Ojai Ranger District, about 75 percent of the Sespe Creek subwatershed is characterized by numerous rugged slopes and canyon walls of the southern Pine Mountains. It is characterized by a series of permanent deep pools. Major tributaries include the Lion Canyon, Hot Springs Canyon, West Fork Sespe and Little Sespe Creeks, although over 30 creeks and springs nourish it. Sespe Creek receives most of its rainfall between January and April, furnishes 40% of the water flowing in the Santa Clara River. Much of Sespe Creek is protected within the Los Padres National Forest; the 219,700-acre Sespe Wilderness Area encompasses 31.5 miles of Sespe Creek. Established in 1992, the Wilderness Area contains a 53,000-acre Sespe Condor Sanctuary. 10.5 miles of upper Sespe Creek have been designated as wild and scenic. Furthermore, the stream is designated as a wild trout stream from the Lion Camp area in the upper subwatershed downstream to the Los Padres National Forest boundary north of and near the City of Fillmore.
The Sespe Creek flows through habitas of the California montane chaparral and woodlands ecoregion, Riparian woodlands. The inaccessibility of the Sespe Creek backcountry, related to the Sespe gorge and flash floods which make roads through the gorge impossible to maintain, has made the area an apparent refuge for a number of species who were extirpated elsewhere in southern California, including the California condor, southern steelhead trout and the California golden beaver. In addition, the California grizzly bear held out in the Sespe area until at least 1905, when a forest ranger reported tracks and separately hunters claimed they saw a grizzly in the vicinity of the Sespe Hot Springs and Alder Creek; the Sespe is one of southern California's last free flowing. The confluence of Sespe Creek with the Santa Clara River provides an important connection to upland systems and potential migration corridor for four endangered species: southwestern willow flycatcher, least Bell's vireo, arroyo toad, California red-legged frog.
The Sespe Creek population is the largest known arroyo toad habitat within its current range. California condor The Sespe Creek watershed has the 53,000-acre Sespe Condor Sanctuary created in 1947, it protects wilderness habitat of the critically endangered species, the Gymnogyps californianus. California golden beaver The discovery of a male adult California golden beaver specimen collected as "wild caught" in May, 1906 "along the Sespe River in Ventura County" is physical evidence that golden beaver were extant in coastal streams in southern California; the skull of the Sespe Creek specimen is housed at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in Berkeley and was collected by Dr. John Hornung, of Ventura, who assembled a large private mammal collection of over 2,000 skulls and made major specimen donations to museums including the American Museum of Natural History. Although the California Department of Fish and Game re-introduced beaver throughout California the first documented restocking was 1923, well after the 1906 Sespe Creek specimen was collected.
The authenticity of the Sespe Creek specimen is supported by reports of beaver in the Santa Clara River until Europeans arrived, according to oral Ventureño Chumash history taken by ethnolinguist John Peabody Harrington in the early twentieth century. The beaver comes and gnaws the tree on the side towards which it leans, at last falls over; the tree is leaning towards our house. I am beginning to fear; the beaver builds its house in the cienegas in the time of our ancestors. There were beavers at Ventura and at Saticoy. There is a Chumash pictograph of a beaver at Painted Rock in the Cuyama River watershed due west of Mt. Pinos in the Sierra Madre mountains, about 35 miles from the Sespe Creek headwaters. Additionally, the Hearst Museum in Berkeley has a Ventureño Chumash shaman's rain making kit made from the skin of a beaver tail and a tobacco sack; the shaman, "Somik", produced the artifact in the resided at Fort Tejon. It "was not utilized by his descendants". In Janice Timbrook's "Chumash Ethnobotany" she states, based on linguist J. P. Harrington'