"'There's no other species like the steelhead that connects the mountaintops to the faraway oceans like they do,' notes Stoecker.
That critical connection was severed in October 1891, when the Spring Valley Water Company, hungry for business and thirsty for water for the rapidly expanding city of San Francisco, flooded the once thriving wetlands and blocked the tight canyon at its base with an impenetrable concrete wall. The reservoir behind this wall, Stoecker says, has become an "artificial and unsustainable ecosystem" in which exotic large-mouth bass and bullfrogs prey voraciously on native species. He understands now that the trout he caught as a child were the tattered ancestors of those fish that once swam free in the ocean and spawned in the creeks above Searsville Dam - stranded now for more than 100 years. Fueled by such painful truths, Stoecker tells a story in which Searsville Dam plays the part of a villain who must be toppled in order to mend the bonds that have been broken."
One side argues that the dam has cut off the natural livelihood of steelhead trout in the area, but opponents of dam removal say the structure has created a vibrant bird habitat that would be destroyed along with the dam.