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Brief Assessments of Salmonids and Their Habitats in George, Tenmile and Couse creeks in Asotin County, 2000

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

Date Published: December 2001

Number of Pages: 40

Author(s): Glen Mendel, David Karl, Terrence Coyle and Mike Gembala


In March 2000, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), in a cooperative effort with the Asotin Conservation District (ACD), planned a baseline monitoring project for George and Tenmile Creeks in Asotin County. The partners agreed that WDFW would also survey Couse Creek, if there was enough time. Tenmile and Couse creeks are tributaries of the Snake River, upstream from the town of Asotin, Washington, and George Creek is a tributary of Asotin Creek, also a Snake River tributary.

In the early 1990s, George Creek was specifically excluded from the Asotin Creek Model Watershed Project Master Plan because of lack of knowledge about the drainage and perceptions of poor habitat and lack of use by spring chinook salmon. Summer steelhead have been presumed by WDFW to be using George, Tenmile and Couse creeks and their major tributaries for spawning and rearing, but no data existed to verify their distribution or abundance. Snake River summer steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act in August 1997.

WDFW began the project in April 2000 in George Creek, Tenmile Creek, Couse Creek, and their major tributaries to collect baseline fish and habitat data. The specific objectives were to perform baseline monitoring for salmonids, by 1) conducting steelhead spawning surveys and summer electrofishing surveys to determine distribution and relative abundance in the drainages, 2) deploying and recovering temperature data loggers, and 3) collecting periodic measurements of stream flows during spring, summer, and fall months.

Information collected during this project will be valuable for management decisions for those drainages and possibly to generate habitat restoration projects to enhance the existing salmonid populations. The information collected will soon be used in watershed planning and salmonid management. Current needs for this information include the legislatively required Limiting Factors Report for WRIA 35 (Snake R. Basin) due in 2001, or early 2002, and the Northwest Power Planning Council (NPPC) and Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority's (CBFWA) required Subbasin Summaries (due in April 2001). Information from this survey will be used in the Snake River Fishery Management and Evaluation Plan (FMEP) that will be completed by WDFW within the next month or two and submitted as required by NMFS. The WDFW’s Salmonid Stock Inventory (SaSI) and Salmon and steelhead Inventory and Assessment Program (SSHIAP) will incorporate this information into their fish stock and habitat assessements within the next year or so.