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Open-File Report 2014–1154

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation

Methow River Studies, Washington—Abundance Estimates from Beaver Creek and the Chewuch River Screw Trap, Methodology Testing in the Whitefish Island Side Channel, and Survival and Detection Estimates from Hatchery Fish Releases, 2013

By Kyle D. Martens, Teresa M. Fish, Grace A. Watson, and Patrick J. Connolly


Salmon and steelhead populations have been severely depleted in the Columbia River from factors such as the presence of tributary dams, unscreened irrigation diversions, and habitat degradation from logging, mining, grazing, and others (Raymond, 1988). The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been funded by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to provide evaluation of on-going Reclamation funded efforts to recover Endangered Species Act (ESA) listed anadromous salmonid populations in the Methow River watershed, a watershed of the Columbia River in the Upper Columbia River Basin, in north-central Washington State (fig. 1). This monitoring and evaluation program was funded to document Reclamation’s effort to partially fulfill the 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System Biological Opinion (BiOp) (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Fisheries Division 2003). This Biological Opinion includes Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA) to protect listed salmon and steelhead across their life cycle. Species of concern in the Methow River include Upper Columbia River (UCR) spring Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), UCR summer steelhead (O. mykiss), and bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), which are all listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The work done by the USGS since 2004 has encompassed three phases of work. The first phase started in 2004 and continued through 2012. This first phase involved the evaluation of stream colonization and fish production in Beaver Creek following the modification of several water diversions (2000–2006) that were acting as barriers to upstream fish movement. Products to date from this work include: Ruttenburg (2007), Connolly and others (2008), Martens and Connolly (2008), Connolly (2010), Connolly and others (2010), Martens and Connolly (2010), Benjamin and others (2012), Romine and others (2013a), Weigel and others (2013a, 2013b, 2013c), and Martens and others (2014). The second phase, initiated in 2008, focuses on the evaluation of the M2 reach (rkm 66– 80) of the mainstem Methow River prior to restoration actions planned by Reclamation and Yakama Nation. The M2 study was designed to help understand the inter-relationships between stream habitat and the life history of various fish species to explain potential success or limitations in response to restoration actions. To help document changes derived by restoration, two reference reaches (Upper Methow between rkm 85 and 90, and Chewuch River between rkm 4 and 11) were identified based on relative lack of disturbance, proximity to the restoration reach, and relative unconfined geomorphology. A control reach (Lower Methow between rkm 57 and 64, also referred to as “Silver Reach”) was 2 identified based on its similar disturbance as the reference reach, proximity to the restoration reach, and relatively unconfined geomorphology. Products to date include Barber and others (2011), Bellmore (2011), Tibbits and others (2012), Bellmore and others (2013), Benjamin and others (2013), Romine and others (2013b), Bellmore and other (2014), Martens and others (2014), and Martens and Connolly (2014). The third phase of work has been to help with the development and to provide data for modeling efforts.

Most of the planned M2 reach restoration is focused on the creation or improvement of offchannel habitat, especially side channels. The pre-restoration portion of this study has been documented by Martens and Connolly (2014). Side channel restoration actions were initiated in 2012 (Whitefish Island side channel, also referred to as SC3; rkm 76) and are planned to continue over the next several years. The Whitefish Island side channel was modified to maintain hydrological connection with the mainstem throughout the year. In addition, several log structures were installed and pools were deepened to create fish habitat. Prior to restoration, this side channel would lose hydrological connection with the mainstem Methow River, leaving one large pool near the bottom of the side channel and several shallow isolated pools that may or may not go dry. In seasonally connected side channels, juvenile salmonid survival in pools less than 100 cm average depth was lower than in pools greater than 100 cm average depth (Martens and Connolly, 2014).

In this report, we document our field work and analysis completed in 2013. During 2013, USGS sampling efforts were focused on resampling of three reaches in Beaver Creek, testing methodology in the Whitefish Island side channel, conducting hatchery survival estimates, and operating a screw trap on the Chewuch River (funded by Yakama Nation; fig. 1). The Beaver Creek sampling effort was a revisit of three index sites sampled continuously from 2004 to 2007 to look at the fish response to barrier removal. Methodology testing in Whitefish Island side channel was done to determine the best method for evaluating fish populations after restoration efforts in side channels (previous sampling methods were determined to be ineffective after pools were deepened). Hatchery survival estimates were completed to monitor fish survival in the Methow and Columbia Rivers, while the screw trap was operated to estimate migrating fish populations in the Chewuch River and track passive integrated transponder (PIT)-tagged fish. In addition, we maintained a network of PIT-tag interrogation systems (PTIS), assisted Reclamation with fish removal events associated with stream restoration (two people for 9 days; 14 percent of summer field season), and conducted a stream metabolism study designed to help parameterize and calibrate the stream productivity model (Bellmore and others, 2014) with model validation.

First posted July 23, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, Western Fisheries Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey
6505 NE 65th Street
Seattle, Washington 98115

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Suggested citation:

Martens, K.D., Fish, T.M., Watson, G.A., and Connolly, P.J., 2014, Methow River Studies, Washington—Abundance estimates from Beaver Creek and the Chewuch River screw trap, methodology testing in the Whitefish Island side channel, and survival and detection estimates from hatchery fish releases, 2013: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1154, 38 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)



Description of Study Area





References Cited


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