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Baseline Assessment of Salmonids in Tributaries of the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers in Southeast Washington: 2007 Annual Report

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

Date Published: December 2008

Number of Pages: 183

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

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

The data collected for this report and the report itself are a supplement to work done previously in southeast Washington (Mendel et al. 2006). We continued to collect 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 River tributaries within WA, particularly for bull trout information, and

3) continue bull trout monitoring efforts in the Tucannon River, 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 2006 field efforts completed a portion of the goals and objectives of the various projects combined in this report and the previous report (Mendel et al. 2006). For example, we completed the collection of 40 tissue samples that met our genetic sampling protocol from juvenile bull trout in each of seven reaches of the upper Tucannon watershed. We also completed electrofishing surveys in the Butte Creek watershed, which were delayed in 2005 because of a large wildfire in southeast Washington (Mendel et al. 2006). We were successful in obtaining valuable new baseline information that is useful for assessing salmonid stock status, particularly in lower Joseph Creek and portions of the Wenaha River watershed 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. In addition, we were able to obtain field data regarding the distribution and relative abundance of tailed frogs (Ascalphus truei) in the Blue Mountains.

During 2007 we were able to conduct both steelhead spawning surveys and electrofishing surveys on Alpowa Creek and were able to collect genetic samples. We shifted our sampling slightly out of the Wenaha River Basin, and obtained baseline information on aquatic species and habitat in Wenatchee Creek with the help of other WDFW and USFS staff.

Currently, streams or stream reaches remain where little or no field sampling information is available. We hope to secure additional funding for each of the next two 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