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Wind River subbasin restoration annual report of USGS activities January 2017 through December 2017

October 1, 2018

We used Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT)-tagging and a series of instream PIT-tag interrogation systems (PTISs) to investigate life-histories, populations, and efficacy of habitat restoration actions for wild Steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss in the Wind River subbasin, WA. No hatchery Steelhead have been planted in the Wind River subbasin since 1997, and hatchery adults are estimated to be less than one percent of adults in most years (pers comm. Thomas Buehrens, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife). Numerous restoration actions have been implemented in the subbasin, including Hemlock Dam removal on Trout Creek in 2009. Data from our study, and companion work by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), are contributing to Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) Research Monitoring and Evaluation (RM&E) Program Strategy of Fish Population Status Monitoring (,  specifically the substrategies 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. Our headwaters parr PIT tagging, WDFW parr, smolt, and adult tagging and our instream PTISs are providing data movements and life histories of parr, smolt, and adult Steelhead. During summer 2017, we PIT-tagged age-0 and age-1 Steelhead parr in headwater areas of the Wind River subbasin to characterize population traits and investigate life-history diversity, including growth and pre-smolt downstream movement. Repeat sampling and smolt traps provide opportunities for recapture, and instream PTISs and Columbia River infrastructure provide opportunity for detection of PIT-tagged fish. Throughout the year, we maintained a series of instream PTISs to monitor movement of tagged Steelhead parr, smolts, and adults. This included adding the second array to our upper Wind River PITS, increasing solar capacity and adding improved power cables to some sites. Detections at the instream PTISs have demonstrated trends of age-0 and age-1 parr emigration from natal areas 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 begin to understand factors which may influence parr movements. Long-term monitoring of PIT-tagged fish over multiple years is providing information on contribution of various life-history strategies to smolt production and adult returns.  Movements of PIT-tagged adult Steelhead were also recorded at instream PTISs. These data have allowed 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. The dam had had contributed to hydrologic impairment of Trout Creek and had potential negative effects on Steelhead. The improved upper Wind River PTIS (better site characteristics and grid power) will allow estimates of subbasin adult escapement upstream of that site. Evaluating and planning restoration efforts are of interest to many managers and agencies to ensure efficient use of resources. The evaluation of various life-histories of Lower Columbia River Steelhead within the Wind River subbasin will provide information to better track populations, and to direct habitat restoration and water allocation planning. Increasingly detailed Viable Salmonid Population information, such as that provided by PIT-tagging and instream PTISs networks like those we operate in the Wind River subbasin, will provide data to inform policy and management, as life-history strategies and production bottlenecks are identified and understood.

Publication Year 2019
Title Wind River subbasin restoration annual report of USGS activities January 2017 through December 2017
Authors Ian Jezorek
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Index ID 70204560
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center