Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Documenting Fish and Habitat Trends with King County

Issaquah Creek
Over the past three summers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has worked on a field project with King County to survey habitat and fish populations in streams that feed into Lake Washington, a large lake in Seattle, WA. The main objective of this work is to assess and monitor habitats essential to Chinook salmon, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The work is also part of a larger effort to monitor Chinook salmon habitat throughout the state of Washington by the Washington Department of Ecology. In addition to King County and USFWS, 27 other local government organizations have assisted in this project.

Collecting fish samples
This year's work team consisted of three King County employees and five USFWS employees. Four of the USFWS employees were students from The Evergreen State College, Eastern Washington University, and Oregon State University. We spent 4 days each week in July and August at various streams and creeks either collecting fish with electrofishing equipment or helping with habitat measurements. The primary fish species encountered during our surveys included cutthroat trout, juvenile coho salmon, and five species of sculpin. Fifty sites were completed in 2011 and each site will be resurveyed in 2012 and 2013. By repeating these surveys in future years, we will be able to determine whether fish communities and their habitats change over time as habitat restoration work is implemented to benefit Chinook salmon in the Puget Sound region.

Cutthroat trout collected during survey

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