by Mary Kiesau & John Crandall
On August 11, 2013 we took a field-trip to "Whitefish Island" with aquatic ecologist and Methow
Monitoring Coordinator, John Crandall. Whitefish Island, between Winthrop & Twisp along Hwy 20, is the site of a large-scale river restoration project
implemented to improve habitat for ESA-listed (endangered or threatened) fish species inhabiting
the Methow River. Participants heard from John what was done at the stream habitat restoration site but more specifically why. It's a long story but here are the basics, plus photos from the day!
Stream restoration is occurring to address landscape conditions (which are
now degraded and lacking the "functionality" that creates diversity
of habitat that supports a variety of fish species and life stages
--eggs, juveniles, adults) - that limit the production of spring Chinook, steelhead and bull trout that are listed under the ESA.
fish production is a necessary step (court mandated) to achieve recovery and
get the species off the ESA. This is the ultimate goal of current habitat
restoration efforts in the Methow.
Reconnection of stream with their
floodplains and side channels, installation of large wood, and improving
streamflow and water quality (riparian restoration) are key attributes of current restoration efforts. Habitat protections (easements etc.) assist this
effort by keeping intact functional/less impacted areas.
habitat options as they move through their lives. Habitat/streams that
provide a variety of water depths, current velocities and overhead/instream
cover are the most productive. Stream restoration is occurring to provide the
Methow watershed with increased stream function to create habitat over time
(decades +) as well as shorter term additions of large wood that provide
immediate habitat benefits for fish and other species.
Monitoring has shown that juvenile
fish (ESA species and other species like lamprey) are abundant in the large
wood structures that have been installed. The structures should increase
juvenile fish growth and survival
which is being monitored through the