Directors Message: Knowledge Transfer is Vital to the Success of New Ventures in Fish Passage and Reintroduction
Late spring and summer are busy times of the year at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC). Our “field season” for many of our projects is well underway! Field technicians boat up rivers and wade down streams in the Columbia, Klamath and Sacramento River basins, collecting fish to assess their health or inserting tags in their bellies so that their behavior can be tracked. Scuba divers hover over the sea floor in Puget Sound, counting kelp, eelgrass, fish, crustaceans and other organisms. And other scientists trek up to Alaska to survey and assess the health of herring, described here in this volume of Something Fishy!
These fair-weather months are also a time for our scientists and leadership to get out on the landscape, talk to people about our research, and grow our partnerships. In May, staff from our Columbia River Field Station, along with our friends at Anchor QEA, hosted a tour of fish passage facilities at large dams located across Oregon and Washington State for federal, state and tribal natural resource managers from California.
NOAA Fisheries has determined that recovery of Central Valley salmon and steelhead populations cannot be achieved without re-establishing populations in above-dam habitats in key watersheds. Many of these habitats are within protected National Forests, in relatively good condition, and are located at higher elevations providing cooler water temperatures and greater resilience to climate change.
The tour was a way to share the science and innovative approaches used for Pacific Northwest fish passage and reintroduction projects as well as lessons learned along the way. Major fish passage projects on the Cowlitz, Lewis, Clackamas, and Baker rivers were visited, and scientists from WFRC and Anchor QEA spoke about the research and techniques applied to improve the prospect of success.
Knowledge transfer is vital to the success of these fish passage and reintroduction projects. There are many unique challenges posed by the type of dam the fish must pass; the river conditions; potential predators, competitors, and disease above and below the dam; and the size, behavior, and hardiness of the reintroduced fish. Our team at WFRC is helping pave the way with ecosystem science that looks across these issues and provides guidance to managers responsible for doing their best to help fish survive for generations to come.
List of partners who participated in the fish passage tour:
Anchor QEA (John Ferguson, Elizabeth Greene); California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Tina Bartlett, Jason Roberts); California Department of Water Resources (Cindy Messer, Kris Tjernell); NOAA (Steve Edmondson, Melissa Jundt, Ellen McBride, Cathy Marcinkevage); U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Heather Casillas); U.S. Forest Service (Amanda Brinkman-Parker); U.S. Geological Survey (Dave Beauchamp, Jill Hardiman, Toby Kock, Russell Perry, John Plumb, Rachel Reagan, Steve Waste); Winnemem Wintu Tribe (Chief Caleen Sisk, Marine Sisk-Franco); and associates of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe (Melanie Cheung, Will Doolittle, Toby McLeod).
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