From Frogs, Logs, Dogs, Slogs, Bogs, Hogs, and Pollywogs - It's the Methow Conservancy Blog!
Occasional posts - from the quirky to the momentous - on the life and times of the Methow Conservancy.
(What you won't find in E-News)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Whitefish Island - Fish Restoration & Snorkel Site!

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.

Increased 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.

Fish need 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 MRC.