Building ponds is a wild job that requires the combined expertise of construction, landscaping, and biology. Boss, Greg Wittstock, scientist, Ed Beaulieu, and foreman, Brian Helfrich, are the Pond Stars. The team travels the United States creating working ecosystems that add beauty and bring wildlife into backyards and public areas all across America. On this week’s episode, the Pond Stars build a backyard trout stream and pond for Bart Strittmatter in the San Gabriel Mountains of California. The task is not without challenges, especially stocking the pond:
Building the perfect trout stream
Bart Strittmatter wants a running stream brimming with trout for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to enjoy. The Pond Stars work on constructing a 26 by 16-foot pond that will connect an 11 by 11-foot shallow pool through a narrow channel. This thick water will allow the trout to jump between the two, replicating what they do in nature. And from there, an impressive 30-foot stream and waterfall system will cascade down the hillside, churning the water and creating an oxygen-rich environment.
The team uses three different types of rock to reflect the geological diversity of the mountain. The aesthetics are only one aspect of the project, however. The guys also have to continue to consider the health of the fish. They dig a deeper pond to keep the water cooler, which is very important for trout species. The colder the water is, the higher the actual dissolved oxygen content, which is good for the fish. The deeper the pond is, the safer the fish will be. There are sure to be natural predators hoping for a snack; and depth as well as places to hide will protect the fish.
Protecting wild trout
All of these considerations are very similar to what biologists look at when working to restore habitats and protect California’s diminishing trout species. Many of the state’s native fish are in danger of extinction. According to California Trout, a nonprofit organization working to restore habit and save native species:
- If present trends continue, 65% of native salmon, steelhead, and trout species will be extinct this century
- 65% of the species headed towards extinction are found only in California
- Of the state’s 9 living native inland fish, 78% are in danger of extinction
The coastal rainbow trout that Pond Stars add to their project are native and actually a species that is doing well in California. Originally, they were found in nearly all coastal streams from San Diego north throughout the state. They are one of the most studied species of California fish and have been widely introduced into suitable waters. While the coastal rainbow trout are thriving, increased competition with humans for resources, poor water quality, water mismanagement, barriers and water diversions, global warming and rising water temperatures are effecting other species.
Strittmatter’s backyard stream may not have an impact on native trout species, but it might do something just as important: teach the young members of his family to appreciate and admire these beautiful fish. Perhaps they will even grow up to be interested in their conservation. The kids are sure to be entranced by the beautiful trout stream the Pond Stars create, which mimics the natural ones in the surrounding area.
Tune in to Pond Stars: California Dreaming Tuesday September at 10P