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Baseline Assessment of Salmonids in Tributaries of the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers in Southeast Washington: 2005 Annual Report

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Fish/Shellfish Research

Date Published: May 2006

Number of Pages: 120

Author(s): Glen Mendel, Michael Gembala, Jeremy Trump and Chris Fulton

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

We collected data to provide information regarding distribution, relative abundance, and species composition, while obtaining tissue samples for age and growth or genetic analyses. This effort was part of our salmonid population/stock assessment in selected streams in southeast Washington where data were most limited. Small amounts of funding came from several sources to enable us to combine the following objectives or projects:

1) increase our field sampling of small streams or stream reaches in Asotin County,

2) begin sampling Wenaha Basin tributaries within WA, particularly for bull trout information, and

3) continue bull trout monitoring efforts in the Tucannon Basin, and expand those efforts to include collection of tissues for a collaborative genetic evaluation of metapopulation structure and to assist with PIT tagging for evaluation of movements. Most of our efforts were concentrated on fish population assessment, but a limited amount of habitat assessment was included.

The sampling efforts and results documented here are mostly from 2005, but some data from previous years are included. The 2005 field efforts provide only partial fulfillment of the goals and objectives of the various projects combined in this report. For example, we were only partially successful obtaining 40 tissue samples that met our genetic sampling protocol from juvenile bull trout in each of seven reaches of the upper Tucannon watershed. Low densities of fish, equipment problems, and restricted access because of a large wildfire precluded us from meeting our sampling goals. In addition, we were unable to electrofish in Butte Creek because of restricted access and safety issues surrounding the 52,000 acre School Fire in 2005.

We were successful in obtaining valuable new baseline information that is useful for assessing salmonid stock status, particularly in portions of the lower Grande Ronde tributaries and the Wenaha basin within Washington State. We were able to obtain tissue samples from many fish from several drainages that will be useful for age, growth, and genetic analyses in the future.

Currently we still have streams or stream reaches where we have almost no actual field sampling information. We hope to secure additional funding for each of the next 2-4 years to enable us to continue this effort to collect baseline data regarding salmonids and their habitats in areas where limited or no data currently exists in southeast Washington. Our ultimate goal is to then use this baseline data to guide development of a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation program that would implement appropriate long-term monitoring of the status and trends of salmonid populations in these small tributaries.

We trust that the information documented here will be useful to fish and habitat managers, as well as subbasin and salmonid recovery planners, for protecting and restoring salmonid resources in southeast Washington tributaries within the Snake River Basin.