Hello all, thanks for following along on my journey as a USFWS DFP intern this summer. It’s hard for me to believe my time here is drawing to a close.
It has been an immense pleasure working with the Service on important conservation projects with a team of skilled and passionate individuals. I have learned so much this summer working with the Western Washington Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation Office (WWFWCO), and I have equally enjoyed their company. I want to extend my warmest thanks and gratitude to the WWFCO for welcoming me and making me feel like a part of the office, even from so far away; I will greatly miss our Coffee Break chats each week.
Since my last blog, we have finalized the results of our study on the assessment of Coho Salmon smolt production potential in the Tsoo-Yess River, Washington. We estimated that the Tsoo-Yess River watershed has a production potential of 37,977 smolts. These results are similar to previous production potential assessments of the Tsoo-Yess River watershed, which estimated smolt production potential to range between 38,500—87,000 smolts (Cross et al. 2020).The most optimal habitat types (e.g., pools and glides) for rearing Coho Salmon juveniles were found in the mainstem of the Tsoo-Yess River. Additionally, the mainstem had greater amounts of pool and glide habitats compared to the tributaries and these habitats are where the greatest density of smolt production potential were estimated. Considering this, our carrying capacity estimates suggest stocking efforts should be focused within the mainstem of the Tsoo-Yess River upstream of the Miller Creek confluence. Reaches should be stocked above Miller Creek, because reaches below Miller Creek are too warm to rear Coho Salmon in most summers.
The type of seasonal habitat available can limit smolt production. Identifying areas that lack summer pools and implementing restorative measures could increase overall carrying capacity in the watershed. For example, there is a lack of woody debris inputs into the upper reaches of the Tsoo-Yess River mainstem due to intense logging practices. This has resulted in a loss of pool habitat and increased occurrences of long riffle sections. Restorative measures in these reaches, such as the addition of large woody debris, may increase carrying capacity by increasing pool habitat availability.
This week, we were able to present our results to the Makah Tribe who co-manage the Makah National Fish Hatchery. The discussion that followed was an amazing opportunity to discuss past hatchery practices, the current state of Coho Salmon stocks, model assumptions and limitations, and how to move forward. We incorporated their comments, questions, and critiques into our report to reflect issues and management practices important to the Tribe. And while I will not be directly involved in the next steps, I look forward to the future email updates from Ben and the Makah Tribe about this project.
I would like to thank the Hispanic Access Foundation, USFWS, and the Makah Tribe for their dedication and commitment to the DFP and for rising to the occasion to adapt a traditionally field-intensive, onsite program to a valuable remote internship. Because of the efforts of these dedicated individuals, I was able to have a meaningful and educational internship that has only strengthened my passion for fisheries management. I am more excited than ever to enter into the field of fisheries management and conserve these ecologically, economically, and spiritually important species into the future.
Cross, B. K., D. M. Teuscher, and T. Peterson. 2020. Evaluation of summer distribution, abundance, and size of 2019 Tsoo-Yess River Coho Salmon presmolts. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lacey, Washington
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Makah National Fish Hatchery