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Wind River Subbasin Restoration, annual report of U.S. Geological Survey activities: Parr monitoring and instream passive integrated transponder detection, January 1, 2015 – December 31, 2015

March 17, 2017

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 steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss in the Wind River subbasin, WA. Our
tagging focused on parr in headwater areas of the subbasin and our PTISs provide information on movement of these parr, which is primarily, but not exclusively downstream. The PTISs also
provide data on life-history aspects of other steelhead life-stages. The Wind River subbasin in
southwest Washington State provides habitat for a population of wild Lower Columbia River
steelhead and is an excellent watershed for long-term studies of population dynamics and
responses to restoration of this wild population. Much data on steelhead population metrics have
been gathered from the Wind River providing information on habitat restoration actions and
ongoing research into steelhead life histories. Additionally, the Wind River is an excellent
control watershed of an exclusivly wild steelhead population to which basins with hatchery
programs can compare. 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
(pers comm. Thomas Buehrens, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife). Numerous
restoration actions have been implemented in the subbasin, including the removal of Hemlock
Dam on Trout Creek in 2009. 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 2015, we sampled and PIT-tagged age-0 and age-1 steelhead parr in
headwater areas of the Wind River subbasin to characterize population traits and investigate
variable life-histories, including growth and parr movement downstream prior to smolting.
Throughout the year, we maintained a series of instream PTISs to monitor movement of tagged
steelhead parr, smolts, and adults. Detections at the instream PTISs showed trends of parr
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emigration during summer and fall, in addition to the expected movement of parr and smolts in
spring. These data are increasing our understanding of varied life histories of juvenile steelhead;
paired with other steelhead population work in the subbasin we hope to better understand the
factors influencing parr movements. Monitoring of PIT-tagged fish over multiple years is
providing information on contribution of various life-history strategies to smolt production and
adult returns, as well as identifying factors influencing parr movement.

Movements of PIT-tagged adult steelhead were also monitored with our instream PTISs.
These data have provided information on timing of adult movements to various parts of the
watershed, which allows us to assess adult returns to tributary watersheds within the Wind River
subbasin. Determination of adult use of tributary watersheds is providing data to contribute to
evaluation of the efficacy of the removal of Hemlock Dam on Trout Creek. Hemlock Dam,
located at rkm 2.0 of Trout Creek was removed in summer 2009 and had contributed to
hydrologic impairment of Trout Creek.

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-his