The Wind River subbasin in southwest Washington State provides habitat for a population of wild Lower Columbia River steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. No hatchery steelhead have been planted in the Wind River subbasin since 1994, and hatchery adults are estimated to be less than one percent of adults in any year (Thomas Buehrens, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, personal communication). Numerous restoration actions have been implemented in the subbasin, including the removal of Hemlock Dam on Trout Creek in 2009. We used Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagging and a series of instream PIT-tag interrogation systems (PTIS) to investigate life-histories, populations, and efficacy of habitat restoration actions for these steelhead. Data from our study, and companion work by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), will contribute to Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) Research Monitoring and Evaluation (RM&E) Program Strategy of Fish Population Status Monitoring (www.cbfish.org/ProgramStrategy.mvc/ViewProgramStrategySummary/1), specifically the sub-strategies of: 1) Assessing the Status and Trends of Diversity of Natural Origin Fish Populations and to Uncertainties Research regarding differing life histories of a wild steelhead population, 2) Assessing the Status and Trend of Adult Natural Origin Fish Populations, and 3) Monitoring and Evaluating the Effectiveness of Tributary Habitat Actions Relative to Environmental, Physical, or Biological Performance Objectives.
During summer 2014, we PIT-tagged steelhead parr in headwater areas of the Wind River subbasin to investigate life-history diversity, specifically to compare fate of those juvenile steelhead that move downstream prior to smolting with those that remain in their natal areas until smolting. A series of instream PTISs monitored movement of these fish. We added a new multi-antenna PTIS on Trout Creek and made improvements to two of our smaller tributary PTISs during 2014. Detections at the instream PTISs showed trends of parr emigration during summer and fall, in addition to the expected movement of parr and smolts in spring. Long-term monitoring of PIT-tagged fish will provide information on contribution of various life-history strategies to smolt production and adult returns, as well as helping to identify factors influencing parr movement.
Movements of PIT-tagged adult steelhead were tracked with our instream PTISs. These data will contribute to a better understanding of timing and distribution of spawning by this population of wild steelhead within the Wind River subbasin. Additionally, these data have provided information on timing of adult movements to various parts of the watershed, which is allowing us to assess adult use of tributary watersheds within the Wind River subbasin. These data are contributing to evaluating steelhead response to the removal of Hemlock Dam from Trout Creek. Hemlock Dam, which was located at rkm 2.0 of Trout Creek, was removed in summer 2009 and had contributed to hydrologic impairment of Trout Creek and potentially caused some deterrent to upstream adult steelhead migration.
Evaluating restoration efforts is of interest to many managers and agencies so that funding and time are allocated for best results. The evaluation of various life-histories of Lower Columbia River steelhead within the Wind River subbasin provides information to better track populations, and more effectively direct habitat restoration and water allocation planning. Increasingly detailed Viable Salmonid Population information (Crawford and Rumsey 2009), such as that provided by PIT-tagging and instream PTISs networks like those we build and operate in the Wind River subbasin, provide data to better inform policy and management, as life-history strategies and production bottlenecks are identified and understood.
|Title||Wind River subbasin restoration: Annual report of U.S. Geological Survey activities January 2014 through December 2014|
|Authors||Ian G. Jezorek, Patrick J. Connolly|
|Publication Subtype||Other Government Series|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Fisheries Research Center|