Grays River Watershed and Biological Assessment Final Report 2006.

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The Grays River Watershed and Biological Assessment was funded to address degradation and loss of spawning habitat for chum salmon (Onchorhynchus keta) and fall Chinook salmon (Onchoryhnchus tshawytscha). In 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed lower Columbia River chum salmon as a threatened Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The Grays River watershed is one of two remaining significant chum salmon spawning locations in this ESU. Runs of Grays River chum and Chinook salmon have declined significantly during the past century, largely because of damage to spawning habitat associated with timber harvest and ... continued below

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349 pages

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May, Christopher W.; McGrath, Kathleen E.; Geist, David R.; Abbe, Timothy & Barton, Chase February 4, 2008.

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Description

The Grays River Watershed and Biological Assessment was funded to address degradation and loss of spawning habitat for chum salmon (Onchorhynchus keta) and fall Chinook salmon (Onchoryhnchus tshawytscha). In 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed lower Columbia River chum salmon as a threatened Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). The Grays River watershed is one of two remaining significant chum salmon spawning locations in this ESU. Runs of Grays River chum and Chinook salmon have declined significantly during the past century, largely because of damage to spawning habitat associated with timber harvest and agriculture in the watershed. In addition, approximately 20-25% of the then-remaining chum salmon spawning habitat was lost during a 1999 channel avulsion that destroyed an important artificial spawning channel operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). Although the lack of stable, high-quality spawning habitat is considered the primary physical limitation on Grays River chum salmon production today, few data are available to guide watershed management and channel restoration activities. The objectives of the Grays River Watershed and Biological Assessment project were to (1) perform a comprehensive watershed and biological analysis, including hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological assessments; (2) develop a prioritized list of actions that protect and restore critical chum and Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Grays River based on comprehensive geomorphic, hydrologic, and stream channel assessments; and (3) gain a better understanding of chum and Chinook salmon habitat requirements and survival within the lower Columbia River and the Grays River. The watershed-based approach to river ecosystem restoration relies on a conceptual framework that describes general relationships between natural landscape characteristics, watershed-scale habitat-forming processes, aquatic habitat conditions, and biological integrity. In addition, human land-use impacts are factored into the conceptual model because they can alter habitat quality and can disrupt natural habitat-forming processes. In this model (Figure S.1), aquatic habitat--both instream and riparian--is viewed as the link between watershed conditions and biologic responses. Based on this conceptual model, assessment of habitat loss and the resultant declines in salmonid populations can be conducted by relating current and historical (e.g., natural) habitat conditions to salmonid utilization, diversity, and abundance. In addition, assessing disrupted ecosystem functions and processes within the watershed can aid in identifying the causes of habitat change and the associated decline in biological integrity. In this same way, restoration, enhancement, and conservation projects can be identified and prioritized. A watershed assessment is primarily a landscape-scale evaluation of current watershed conditions and the associated hydrogeomorphic riverine processes. The watershed assessment conducted for this project focused on watershed processes that form and maintain salmonid habitat. Landscape metrics describing the level of human alteration of natural ecosystem attributes were used as indicators of water quality, hydrology, channel geomorphology, instream habitat, and biotic integrity. Ecological (watershed) processes are related to and can be predicted based on specific aspects of spatial pattern. This study evaluated the hydrologic regime, sediment delivery regime, and riparian condition of the sub-watersheds that comprise the upper Grays River watershed relative to their natural range of conditions. Analyses relied primarily on available geographic information system (GIS) data describing landscape characteristics such as climate, vegetation type and maturity, geology and soils, topography, land use, and road density. In addition to watershed-scale landscape characteristics, the study area was also evaluated on the riparian scale, with appropriate landscape variables analyzed within riparian buffers around each stream or river channel. Included in the overall watershed assessment are field habitat surveys and analyses of the physical and hydrological characteristics of primary chum and fall Chinook salmon spawning areas and spawning habitat availability and use. This assessment is a significant step in a comprehensive program to ensure the survival and recovery of Columbia River chum salmon in its most productive system and builds on existing recovery planning efforts for these ESA-listed salmonids within the Grays River and the lower Columbia River. This assessment also provides a basis for the recovery of other fish species in the Grays River, including coho salmon, winter steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout, and Pacific lamprey.

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349 pages

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  • Related Information: document dated March 2007

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  • Report No.: P105467
  • Grant Number: 00000652
  • DOI: 10.2172/961997 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 961997
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc932661

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  • February 4, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 5, 2016, 6:40 p.m.

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May, Christopher W.; McGrath, Kathleen E.; Geist, David R.; Abbe, Timothy & Barton, Chase. Grays River Watershed and Biological Assessment Final Report 2006., report, February 4, 2008; Portland, Oregon. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc932661/: accessed December 14, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.