Endangered Species Monitoring and Status

Mark Downen, WDFW – Bull trout

There are two populations of bull trout –  north fork Skokomish River/Cushman (resident and adfluvial – ocean going); and south fork Skokomish River (resident, fluvial, anadromous)

Monitoring taking place:

South Fork includes redd counts from river mile 0 to RM 10 by Church Creek

North Fork includes looking at peak live adult counts, via snorkel surveys upstream of Lake Cushman.

South Fork redd index data – up until 2014, seen variation of numbers of redds, between 2000-2013. Low and variable is the take home message of the overall population.

North Fork live adults counts – 1995 – 2013 – again varied, fairly constant though, more than 100 per year for the most part.

When doing surveys for steelhead, found bull trout, some at 17-22 inches, some as large as 27 inches. See more and more bull trout show up when steelhead arrive. Presumably, BT are feeding on steelhead eggs.

Summary:

Populations in Skokomish still remain small

Fragmentation is still problematic but fish passage in the north fork provides future options.

Recent increases in steelhead are likely to positively influence survival of all life stages.

Chinook:

Historic spring populations in the upper SF, NF; Fall populations were in the mainstream, lower SF and NF.

In the 40s, 50s, 60s – that’s when we seemed to have lost genetic population. Not sure what it was, but developed a genetically foreign population in the Skokomish. Late run no longer is detectable. Spring chinook is rare.

George Adams hatchery uses Green River fall stock. Risk factors abound for chinook in Skok river – geographic location, small basin size and unstable geology, forest practices, hydroelectric impacts.

The Skokomish Tribe and WDFW work collaboratively to survey all the available spawning habitat in the Skokomish River.

With the increased flows from the North Fork, it seems chinook are moving up the NF more and more.

Fish are entering river in earnest in July. Peak in Early to mid august. Starts to wane mid-september. Majority of redds are in the mainstem.

For sampling, SF, NF and mainstem – important to get age, sex, length, mark rates (marked with CWT and/or adipose clipped).

Trends: 2008-2014 – returns of chinook spawners:

Had increasing trend though 2013, then steep decline in 2014. But seeing fairly continuous increase of 200-300 that are natural origin.

George Adams Hatchery program:

Release 3.8 million juvenile chinook from the hatchery each year since 2003.

again, look at age, sex, mark rates.

Spawning and Arrival timing trends – downward trend in peak arrival and spawning since 1994. This isn’t entirely explained by genetics, we think. We tend to surplus the early fish that come back. Yet they come earlier and earlier each year.

In general, overall efforts to recover Skokomish River chinook:

  • Habitat restoration
  • Forest Practices
  • Cushman re-licensing
  • Spring Chinook reintroduction
  • Develop and evaluate a late timed GA hatchery stock
  • Fisheries directed on hatchery production

Matt Kowlaski, Skokomish Tribe, Salmon/Steelhead biologist: Steelhead

2007 – Steelhead listed on the ESA list,

2006-07 NOAA started leading the steelhead supplementation project, increased the amount of monitoring in the watershed.

What we’re finding out:

Monitoring Activities: Redd surveys – primary way to get escapement estimates into the system.

Other Monitoring activities: Snorkel surveys, smolt trapping, parr sampling, early marine survival.

Monitoring 50 miles of habitat from July through August. The only gaps we have are in a few small gaps in canyon areas where its fast and rocky.

 

From 2007 – 2015, seeing increase in escapement trends during supplementation program.  Have 3 more years of seeing results from supplementation program.

 

Overall, seeing the most steelhead spawning in South Fork of the river, especially the Upper South Fork.

Have seen increases in spawning in the North Fork since the increases in water flow started.

Spawning trends: South Fork is a month ahead of North Fork in terms of spawning timing

Snorkel Surveys: Upper South Fork

2014: Mid-may is when scientists found the most live steelhead observations

2015: again, peaked in May

Smolt trap data: hard to capture data, low numbers, changes in channel, low efficiency,

Parr Sampling: catch 90 parr a year

Early Marine Survival:  79 percent from river mouth to hood canal bridge, 20 percent survivals from hood cana bridge to strait, hope to start study that soon.

Stacy Vynne, Puget Sound Partnership – adaptive management process

Overall, 16 chinook different recovery chapters, all different languages, formats, regions, old plans, no comprehensive monitoring planning and not connected to the region-wide effort

The need: To tell the story of salmon recovery

Goals: use common language, standards for management, one database, support as each region works through their recovery plans.

Objective: better goals for chinook recovery, better understand habitat, threats, pressures and what to do about them, improved monitoring

Gained: prioritized goals, common indicators, tools to use to get to end point.

Created a Simplified Chain of Logic: helps develop and execute the plan and strategies.

ourhoodcanal.org – Hood Canal Coordination Council – integrated watershed plan linage to Chinook M&AM

Value of the work for Skokomish:

  • helped with gaps in data for recovery plan update
  • better opportunity for learning
  • can talk the same language with Mid Hood Canal and Skokomish chinook recovery plans
  • system in place for learning, reporting, sharing data