FREMONT (KPIX 5) – Like so many places in Northern California, the recent rains have really transformed things here along Alameda Creek. It is putting on quite a show for the locals, and it’s a great reminder of the importance of a project underway here just below Niles Canyon.

“Six weeks ago it was almost completely dry,” said Rene Bierbaum of Fremont. “Just amazing to see it flowing again.”

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Stop and watch the creek, and it does not take long to spot them.

Skydrone 5 over Alameda Creek in Fremont, November 10, 2021. (CBS)

Skydrone 5 over Alameda Creek in Fremont, November 10, 2021. (CBS)

“When they come up the stream they usually travel in groups,” Bierbaum described to KPIX 5. “You just see this dark shadow in the water of these fish.”

The strong showing is good news, but the bad news for these fish is that this is as far as they will go.

“Well that was built at such an angle that fish cannot pass it,” explained Steven Cochrane of the Alameda Creek Alliance. “Actually, most fish. Once in a while a salmon or steelhead might be able to get up, but it’s very rare.”

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The weir beneath the train tracks is impassable. So are the rubber dams used to divert water into nearby ponds, but a fix for both problems is almost finished.

When these fish ladders are complete, Lower Alameda Creek will finally be connected to the upper watershed, an effort years in the making.

Fish ladder along Alameda Creek in Fremont, November 10, 2021. (CBS)

Fish ladder along Alameda Creek in Fremont, November 10, 2021. (CBS)

“So these two fish ladders are the last step and getting access to the upper spawning area for steelhead and salmon,” Cochrane said.

“Our pandemic entertainment was actually walking down to watch the construction on the fish ladder,” Bierbaum said of her neighbors.

Now, just as it’s finally taking shape, the fish are back, and looking for a path upstream.

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“To see the fish coming up to spawn in that whole watershed, it’s amazing,” Bierbaum said. “It’s really a miracle.”