How Boaters and Anglers can protect spawning salmon


My name is John Erickson and I’m the
Wild and Scenic River manager of the White Salmon and Klickitat Rivers. In this film we’ll explore the Wild and Scenic White Salmon River with local
experts to learn about how we can all be stewards of this river. The Forest Service seeks to support and educate river users about the best practices to
use in order to protect spawning salmon, prevent the spread of invasive species,
and maintain a natural and undisturbed shoreline environment. Together we can all be stewards of the Wild and Scenic White Salmon River and continue to
support its recovery after the historic removal of Condit dam in 2011. The scenic White Salmon River is a popular recreation and angling
destination with an estimated 50,000 users annually. The Forest Service has
been working closely with the National Marine Fisheries Service, US Geological
Survey and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to minimize the impacts from
river users. Together we have created easy-to-follow guidelines that
recreationists and outfitter guides can use to protect spawning fish on the
White Salmon River. My name is Ian Jezorek I’m a fisheries biologist with the
US Geological Survey. Since the removal of Condit Dam we’ve been excited to
document salmon and steelhead spawning upstream of the former dam site. We’ve found coho salmon juveniles in several of the tributaries upstream of the former dam
site. Spring Chinook salmon have actually been found spawning above Husum Falls. Adult steelhead have been documented spawning in the tributaries as well. Mill Creek, Buck Creek, Spring Creek and Rattlesnake Creek are the four major tributaries that provide spawning habitat. In addition to that,
with the removal of downstream movement of much of the
sediment, cobbles and gravels that were trapped behind the dam,
spawning area for salmon and steelhead downstream of the dam site has increased significantly. So there have been not just habitat opened up by removal of the
dam but habitat improvement for fish downstream of the dam, for spawning and for rearing. A redd is essentially a salmon nest it’s where the females will lay deposit their eggs. Generally speaking they’re
going to be on larger gravel beds or in what we call a tail out area of a pool,
or a run where the bottom starts to come up and the current speed starts to
increase a little bit. The female salmon will come in to deposit her eggs, and
she’ll scoop out a depression area in the gravel or cobble. So they’ll lay on their side, flip their tails, move the gravel back a bit and as they’re doing this, they’re slowly depositing a layer of eggs, scooping out
some gravel on top of those eggs, laying down some more eggs, scooping out some more gravel. So the final shape of a redd, which can be up to four or five feet in
diameter or even a little larger with some of the big fall Chinook. What you’ll
see is essentially a divot or a scooped out area in the gravel or cobble
and then downstream of that there’ll be a mound of nearly disturbed gravel under
which the eggs lay. Often the best way to identify a redd is the color because
when the fish when the female fish are in there, they’re moving the gravel and
cobble with their with their tail. So when you look down into the river and
you see the river bottom and it generally looks kind of dark grey or
brown, but a redd will appear brighter colored. Redds in the White Salmon River
could be found nearly anywhere within the river that’s accessible anadromous fish. The highest concentration of redds particularly in the fall, are
actually downstream of the former dam site. When salmon and steelhead come back to spawn they’re often in fairly weakened condition. They’re stressed. They’ve had a
long journey from the sea and they’re putting all their energy into production
of eggs and sperm and into actual spawning acts. The less disturbance they
face the greater chance they have of spawning successfully. Once the eggs are
laid down in the gravel, they’re very susceptible to being dislodged or
actually crushed by someone walking on the gravel. So it’s important if you see
fish spawning or you see redds, to give them a wide birth, give the fish a break, try
not to stress them out. And then during the spawning period or particularly if
see redds or spawning fish to avoid walking or rounding your boat in gravel
areas or for areas where there may be redds or there may be eggs incubating in
the gravel, even if you don’t see the redd. Each year beginning on August 12th
through the end of October we ask river users to follow these extra precautions
to further protect spawning fish and redd’s specifically. We ask river users to
stay in their boats, avoid swimming, wading, jumping in the river and minimize
excessive noise. Consolidate your group, stay in the deep channel and when
possible keep paddles out of the water. Anglers are encouraged to use
established paths and trails to access the river and prevent degradation of the
shoreline. Anglers must also avoid walking and wading through redds during
spawning seasons. Another goal is to protect trees and
vegetation along the shoreline. Shorelines are critical for wildlife
habitat stabilization of a riverbank and maintain the beauty of the river
corridor. All river users are encouraged to clean,
drain and dry their river gear and boats in order to prevent the spread of
aquatic invasive species, especially when coming from watersheds already affected
like the Deschutes, Snake and Columbia rivers. There are several invasive
species that can significantly alter the river ecosystem, threaten recreational
opportunities, cause economic impacts and even threaten human health. My name is Paul Heimowitz, I’m an invasive species specialist with
the US Fish and Wildlife Services Pacific Region. Managing invasive species is a huge challenge in part because once they are
established we have very few success stories where they can be eliminated, so
it really becomes kind of a one-shot deal to keep them out of a new area. So
as important as early detection is, community members are really most
critical as that frontline for prevention. They are the ones for most
frequently using those resources, have the most at stake in some ways as well,
and can be models for those who may be coming from outside the area on how to
best clean and prevent introductions of new invaders into their watershed. So
this is the New Zealand mudsnail and you can see how tiny they are, that’s one
of the reasons they’re such great invaders. They’re very hard to eliminate.
If they might be in your gear it only takes one New Zealand mudsnail to start
an entire new population. They are clonal reproducers. The way that the nearby Deschutes River has been affected by invasive species is maybe first and
foremost that the system’s are irreparable changed. There are species like New
Zealand mudsnails, bullfrogs a number of different aquatic plants that will
likely not ever be eliminated from the system. Then you have recreational
impacts where some areas are no longer accessible, or even just the secondary
impact of this need to contain these new invasions in the Deschutes Watershed to the point that it starts to really complicate, for example being able
to move aquatic gear, angling gear, from point A to point B now because of additional precautions that need to be taken, so it just complicates the ability
to enjoy the river. So there are some fairly simple and do-able things that
anglers, paddlers, kayakers and rafters can do to prevent the spread of aquatic
invasive species into the White Salmon River watershed. The the basic mantra is
clean, drain, and dry equipment to the best of your ability. But particular for
something like the New Zealand mudsnail, which is a good target, it’s the one
thing we really want to, you know, eliminate. Drying for at least 24 hours
is particularly critical, and that means making sure there’s no moisture
during that 24 hour period. So not just putting something out in the Sun for 24
hours, but making sure that if it’s a kayak that seats are out and thoroughly
dried that there are no nooks or crannies where there’s moisture where… just that one mud snail can be hiding and still thriving. For more
information and to get involved with the community, visit the Columbia Gorge
National Scenic Area, share the White Salmon River and Friends of the White
Salmon River web sites and Facebook pages.

2 thoughts on “How Boaters and Anglers can protect spawning salmon

  1. Environmental Nazis . The dam was the problem ,not people using their public land . Return our land to local control and get rid of the worthless NPS,FS,DNR,BLM ,all agencies that waste most of our money on unnecessary employees and infrastructure to support their Government mafia . The people who use the land are the best stewards of our land with a small amount of shitheads that lead to cunts like the Forest service and others trying to rule over us and come up with never ending fees and increased fees .

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