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  • troyal 7:40 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Estuary and Nearshore Monitoring: Shannon Kirby, Skokomish Tribe; Matt Kowalski, Skokomish Tribe; Amy Georgeson, Washington Dept. of Health 

    Shannon Kirby – habitat monitoring

    Skokomish’s Habitat Program includes monitoring vegetation, eelgrass, invertebrates, shellfish surveys, and water chemistry.

    Vegetation monitoring is a big part of what I do – photo points show from 2008-2014 starting with mud flats and has come back with plush vegetation. We’re also seeing soil changing and higher salinity rates in soil.

    Eelgrass is the new buzzword – a lot of agencies doing eelgrass studies. USGS used single beam sonar to map the eelgrass in the seafloor and we’re seeing increases in some areas and decreases in some areas. DNR has been doing similar work for more than a decade and has seen eelgrass patches double in size.

    Sediment delivery and accretion is another measurement we do – we have sediment pins throughout the estuary and every year we measure how much sediment we’re getting through those areas and after every major flood. Shortly after restoration we had sediment coming through and the areas is now starting to become better habitat for shellfish.

    Bugs! We collect bugs in the estuary and lavage salmon stomachs to see what they’re eating. Control sites see much more abundant variety of insects. other sites, no insects at all.

    We’re using water data loggers, looking at connectivity, temperature and water level.

    USGS contracted by the tribe to do bathymetry of the seafloor. Hope to get more information by doing dives with cameras.

    Shellfish survey – shellfish techs -doing a lot of work with their surveys. Seeing mussels coming in the last few years and football fields of grass.

    Matt Kowalski – fish use monitoring

    2012 was first full year of sampling.

    The first big obstacles was having a limited amount of “before” sampling. There had been some hobby sampling but there was very little access for fish behind the old dikes.

    We started with our first phase, calling it the Initial Response phase – right after things opened up with the dike removal, this phase is conducting four years of sampling – fish can get into the channels and channels were still forming. This will be considered our baseline.

    Currently in third year and will be wrapping up the initial response phase and have the first four years of data.

    After that, I’d like to keep it rolling for another four years, call it the Developing Response phase. see if more fish as the area has developed.

    Sampling methods – large channels and small channels sampling

    large channels uses a boat, greater than 10 M area and use 100′ beach seine, 10 sets, all in one day, four days a month, back-to-back days

    small channel – want to know if fish are getting way up there in the small channels. less than 10M area, use 50′ seine, span channel with seine, block off end with another seine and catch fish that way

    Only can do small channel in restoration areas, not control. 1 day a month – 8 small channels sites

    What are we looking for?

    Species richness – are we seeing more in control or restoration? we’re seeing more in control areas.

    Qualitatively – which species are we seeing in which areas? mostly just have salmon everywhere.

    Distribution – the number of salmon present in each site. Have seen chum at all sites, so we know salmon can access all our sites. Goal is is to see each species in each site.

    Residence time – number of months species is present in catch sample

    Fish size/growth – taking fork length of the first 20 from each set

    What’s working?

    We’re getting out there and catching fish and getting data. We’re seeing some patterns emerge in control vs. restoration. A pleasant surprise is that the distribution is doing well. We’re finding chum everywhere so they can get to our samples ties, so hopefully they’ll get to all of them.

    Amy Georgeson, Washington Dept. of Health, Marine water quality monitoring,

    Annas Bay – Shellfish growing area –

    DOH is responsible for classification for shellfish growing areas in WA State and there are 13 alone in Hood Canal and Annas Bay is one of them.

    We look at shoreline impacts, marine waters safety, weather tides and currents.

    need min of 30 samples – looking for fecal coliform, but also salinity and water temp

    Annas Bay – shellfish growing area
    13 stations within Annas Bay.
    all are meeting water quality standards except for one which is a newly requested site, which is still undergoing sampling.

    We monitor 12x a year and try to figure out how flooding impacts the shellfish growing area.

    in addition marine water monitoring, we look looks at impacts to/from septic, farms and fisheries.

    In 2009 there was a huge human waste spike and had to do an emergency closure but it’s been regulated now.

  • troyal 7:15 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Basin-wide monitoring: Kenneth Frasl, USGS; Luke Cherney, HCCC; Mark Downen, WDFW 

    Kenneth Frasl – Skokomish Watershed gages, USGS

    During a flood event our site with the watergate info can get a million hits in one day. We’ve been improving transmitters to provide more data sooner, and reliability and accuracy has improved a lot the past few years.

    Clicking on the site shows the discharge cubic feet, means, where we are, also you can get trends from previous years, plot other rivers against this one. Web site has a lot of good information on it.

    Luke Cherney – Hood Canal Coordination Council – Implementation reporting:

    Implementation reporting – what is it?

    It’s being able to answer questions about the amount of habitat restoration that’s happening on the ground. We’re answering in terms of acres treated, miles treated, how many inseam structures have been installed … these are called reporting metrics.

    We wanted to pick a subset of metrics to track the question of what’s being done on the ground and talk about that in a way that’s meaningful but simple.

    Now we’ve got this list of metrics – where do we track these now? We could use PRISM – which tracks projects but the problem is that database only tracks projects from certain funding sources.

    We developed a habitat work schedule but then needed to figure out which metrics to track with it. Solution: – develop a geo-database. Uses geo (spatial) with database to create a central data repository for storage and management. This is the container we want to put all measurement metrics into.

    Now going back and inputting the data from projects back to the 1990s, with these certain metrics, into this database.

    Problem – a lot of information is also in people’s back rooms, shelves, file cabinets, broken laptops, heads, etc.

    We wanted to compile and report in a numeric fashion but also create maps of data. He presented a map showing every project that’s been done within the Skokomish basin, including acreage of estuary work and instream work.

    Also adding aerial photos, data from ArcGIS, ArcPad – has GPS in it to show where work happened on the ground –

    We have the metrics quantified, also uploaded all the project photos to a cloud-based server connected with a hyperlink so folks could see photos associated with project.

    Metric Totals include total acres of estuary treated, total miles of dike removal, total acres of riparian planted, miles of riparian treated, total miles of instream, number of structures placed.

    Mark Downen: When and where WDFW is conducting monitoring in Skok Basin

    Our principle activities are stock assessment – so we’re out there a lot.

    WDFW is responsible for stock assessment in the context of fisheries management. And also as a result of Boldt decision, we’re co-managers.

    Our current role in monitoring:

    coordination with tribe, stock assessment, data management, age compositions, development of escapement estimates, assessing contribution of wild and hatchery on the spawning grounds

    we’re involved at some level with all major stocks – chinook, coho, summer and upper skok fall chum, pinks and winter steelhead.

    Mostly – tribe covers north folk and upper south fork and we cover lower SF and hunter slough.

    Hatchery program:

    Oversee George Adams Hatchery chinook and coho salmon, McKernan Fall chum salmon and monitoring supplementation of winter-run steelhead.

    Fisheries Monitoring:
    we’re involved in monitoring on various levels
    chinook – Aug 1-labor day
    coho – sept 15 – dec 15
    chum oct 15 – dec 15
    gamefish – first saturday in june through Oct 31

    Also Reservoir Fish Populations – monitor in Cushman and Kokanee lakes (chinook, bulltrout, kokanee)

  • troyal 7:04 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Major Tributaries: Florian Leischner, Tacoma Power and Barry Berejikian, NOAA 

    Florian: North Fork fish & habitat monitoring

    Sediment transport and channel morphology: monitoring includes movement of rocks, sediment and gravel scouring.

    Fish habitat monitoring – we’re trying to stay consistent with TFW North Fork monitoring efforts.

    Adult spawner surveys – we’ve contracted with the tribe to do lower and upper watershed surveys

    Habitat is being assessed just below Cushman Dam 2 and we’re also assessing McTaggert Creek – the largest tributary below the dams.

    These are the preliminary results from 2.5 years of study:

    Sediment doesn’t move easily.
    Lower North Fork habitat is in good conditions but the tributaries are OK, where wood and pools are concerned (not as much with water flow).

    We’ve observed Chum, Coho, Chinoook, Pink, Steelhead, in the order of abundance.

    Seeing high egg-to-fry survival: The smolt trap last year showed us that chum in particular have a very good survival since they’re only affected by scour in fresh water. We caught 30K chum fry every day at the smolt for a six week period.

    Barry: Hood Canal Steelhead Project

    This is really the only experiment of its kind of testing hatchery fish in natural populations, called a replicated-during-after-control-impact-experiment.

    Started in 2006, teams started collecting embryos and now done with that. And South Fork Skokomish is part of this project.

    I’ll just answer your questions already:

    What do we do: Monitor genetics, abundance, life history diversity. We need to determine effects of hatchery programs on natural populations and understanding limiting factors on steelhead productivity.

    What’s working: hatchery production, redd monitoring, life history and genetics monitoring and smolt abundance estimation.

    How does this support decision making: provides information on if/how hatcheries can contribute to recovery efforts and help prioritize other recovery actions.

    Where do you want to go: improve smolt abidance estimates, continue monitoring through 2022.

    How do we share information: peer review publications, (12 or so), a project FTP site and meetings like this one.

    Methods include NOAA and Skok tribe biologists hiking up and down the streams and collecting redd information every spring. Also smolt and parr sampling taken place since 2006 as well.

    More information at: http://nwifc.org/2014/07/steelhead-population-doubled-skokomish-river-hood-canal/

  • troyal 5:21 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Fish Passage: Matt Bleich, Tacoma Power and Mark Downen, WDFW 

    Matt Bleich: Salmon passage monitoring through the Tacoma Reservoirs

    Fish passage goals are to collect broodstock, plant juveniles and support fish with transportation

    Objective: We’re assessing the effectiveness of the collector/transport fish system.

    Basically, we’ll be looking at system survival, fish capture efficiency, and is it safe, timely and effective, as well as the biological, physical and environmental aspects of the fish.

    We will start using a floating surface collector that will be operational in Spring 2015 when we’ll start assessing and releasing the test fish. Release thousands of fish with PIT tags (microchips) at the head of the lake. Some will have acoustic tags and released as well. Will be looking at how the fish come back and collect in the fish collector and the elements involved there (hydrology, physical, environmental elements, how fish are affected by all this)

    Upstream Passage – collector is located at the base of Dam. 2, where fish are collected, then taken to a fish sorter and will determined where they go.

    At Little Falls: Three years ago, there was a salmon that was trying to jump up a vertical stream but couldn’t make it because it was so steep. So a system has been put in place to take out some rock to help with the vertical reach and create pools for upstream migrating salmon. Basically, installing a bypass for the fish around steep falls.

    Mark Downen: Bulltrout and habitat assessment of North Fork

    Since 1926, Cushman Reservoir has harbored an isolated fish community. With the new dam license, new salmon will be introduced to the watershed.

    With the low productivity and limited spawning habitat and ongoing potential of illegal introduction of nonnative species, an updated fish community baseline was needed to inform sound fish management and recovery decisions.

    Methods – horizontal and vertical gill nets, fyke nets and electrofishing sites. Analysis included looking at fish species composition, life history characteristics, and habitat use prior to introduction of salmonids.

    Biologists encountered chinook, kokanee, cutthroat, bull trout, whitefish, salish sucker, speckled dace.

    Largest population found was bull trout.

    in 2013-large mouth bass showed up… heard about it in the lakes but never saw until now. also keeping an eye out for small mouth bass, which area a much colder species, so that could be of concern if they show up.

    Only have a 15-17% mortality using the gill nets – would set for 30 minutes and then pull. Found bull trout mostly in the morning. Were able to sample and release them live.

    Observations –
    abundant forage base in the lake, in numbers and compositions and size classes – providing lots of diversity in the low level of the food web

    There is an absence of chinook in intensively monitored habitats; an absence of juvenile bull trout in the lake and largemouth bass distribution abundance and growth.

    Summary – we believed we developed a sound logistical framework for sampling fish species in the lake and could be valuable as we move forward to in sampling fish, to develop a database to compare to.

  • troyal 4:42 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Fish: Marc McHenry, US Forest Service and Pat Crain, Olympic National Park 

    Marc: Our work has included forest thinning, prioritizing fish blocking culverts… looking at resident reaches of the watershed. 90 percent of the reaches have a team of two that are going across the forest, primarily Skokomish.

    Basically the fish species we’re running into are rainbow trout, sculpin and in a few streams, coho.

    Challenges include conducting survey in low flow conditions. And we’re not just looking for last fish but last habitat – looking at more gradient barriers, size of stream, those of types of changes within the channel.

    This is kind of a work in progress. We’re always trying to sharpen our understanding of where fish are and I see it going on in the future. We’re always going to be getting a sense of where the fish are in all of our watersheds.

    Pat Crain:

    We just saw last week our first Elwha chinook above Glines canyon dam. it’s exciting that with the work you guys are doing we could see the first coho above the Cushman dams.

    I think it’s something important to think about the compare and contrasts between the Elwha and Cushman projects and the monitoring efforts.

    The Cushman is one of the best understood projects in the park. It has the most complete fisheries data in ONP, also the most visited area in the park, with bull trout as the most sensitive fish species. With Tacoma power’s help, we’re doing some habitat assessments which is not done often in pristine settings. We’ve got some information from a system that hasn’t been manipulated.

    Our fish compositions studies are pretty simple in concept – divers get in river, side by side, drifting to look for adult fish but also note observations of juvenile fish. We can also use these surveys for adipose, floy tags any other visual markings of fish.

    One observation is the timing of bull trout – moving in early. not sure what that’s from – water temperature or the way the reservoir is being managed. what does that mean to us? do we need to change our fishing regs? We just have a non-retention on bull trout – need to change that during high visitor periods?

    Redd Surveys – early to say much but spawning starting in october 20 and new redds are seen through December. Very similar to coho. GPSing all the redds and surveying all the way to four steam. Saw one redd above staircase rapids in 2013.

    Final work – habitat surveys using Timber/Fish/Wildlife protocols. Good methods but possibly not capture the full story. The other thing we did find – the Staircase Rapids area is a potential barrier depending on flow, jumping ability and time of year. Fish are really going to have to tell us if these are barriers or not.

  • troyal 4:18 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Forestry Practices: Eric Beach, Green Diamond 

    There has been a lot of history in our area. The Olympic Peninsula is known for its ability to grow trees. It’s been a viable resource for more than 100 years. Forest harvesting started on private land, to public land and then back to private. Transportation of logs started with railroads and then roads.

    Why are gravel roads a concern? They create sediment, which we don’t want to introduce into the system. So we want make sure our runoff goes into the forest floor and not the watershed.

    Note: Sediment is not produced just by being on the road; it’s when high levels of precipitation take place and trucks are driving on the road.

    Green Diamond has Best Management Practices they follow. The best way to help is to disconnect the road from the stream network. The second thing we do is limit the amount of sediment produced by the roadway.

    Next step is capture sediment, then final option is suspending traffic on road during heavy periods of rain.

    Operating procedures include surveying drainage patterns and delivery points.

    Effective monitoring includes engineering and operational practices that prevent or mitigate fine sediment delivery to streams.

  • troyal 4:09 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Plenary Speaker: Keith Underwood, Tacoma Power 

    He explained how he was part of a Lake Roosevelt group that did the same thing that this group in the Skokomish basin is doing – agencies coming together for a problem much bigger than them and working together and how much of a success it was.

    I think it’s imperative for all of us to meet and work together. Tacoma power struggled with what we were going to do in this basin. We have that solved and we know what we are going to do to solve the north fork issue but there are many steps and it’s going to take much more than just the city, the tribe and the state to solve these problems.

  • troyal 4:02 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  

    Plenary Speaker: Joseph Pavel, Skokomish Tribe 

    I’ve been living, working, recreating in this watershed since I was about 8 years old. I think we’ve all observed – it’s a pretty dynamic system. There’s a lot going on in there. Upper watershed with hydroelectric projects, forest practices, agricultural development. We’ve learned a lot about this system but we also have a lot of unknowns. I think it represents a very unique opportunity with the challenges we’re faced. Aside from scope and scale, we can develop a true understanding of a very effective plan of recovering and restoring and managing our resources in that watershed. A lot of agencies and different interests here and I’ve come to know there is a lot information and a lot of people doing a lot of things. At some point we all need to come together here and try and be effective and efficient, who is doing what – and that’s why i’ve encouraged our partners to do this kind of get together. I’m happy to see folks here to lend a shoulder to this effort.

    Our partnership with City of Tacoma is an evolving relationship – from when we, the Skokomish Tribe, wasn’t even acknowledged to when we were e nuisance to when they realized there was a tribe out here to now where we are partners and working together in common effort for the watershed. It’s a good thing to have these people as partners in the watershed.

    Within all our activity within the watershed, we’re trying to be efficient. for the longest time we’ve had a unknowns … with the hydroelectric project taking place in the upper watershed, we have a known now. We’re iin the midst of Corps General Investigation study, and a lot of work has been done there.

    We have the foundation of working together… a critical mass of interest in the watershed throughout cushion fish and habitat meetings. we have in our watershed a Skokomish watershed action team – an adhoc interest group of all interests in the watershed, and we have constant dialogue with our resources agencies. i think the Skokomish Tribe has embraced a model that says we don’t need to be doing it all. we know there are others doing things and are available and willing and we embrace bringing these partners together.

  • troyal 3:40 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink  


    The first Skokomish Watershed Monitoring Conference is starting right now at Mason County Public works. First up is Joseph Pavel, Skokomish Tribe Natural Resources Director.

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