Currently, the Tucannon River has the existing personnel and physical infrastructure for monitoring success. These monitoring efforts are beginning to provide the information necessary to document measurable progress. Beyond the out-of-basin PIT tag arrays, the Tucannon utilizes four in-basin arrays as well as a smolt trap, all of which are maintained and operated by WDFW. Additionally, there are 52 established habitat monitoring sites that are coordinated and utilized to support multiple monitoring efforts, including BPA, SRFB, and WDFW habitat monitoring for project action effectiveness and watershed status and trends. The Tucannon has a large number of tagged fish with additional tagging efforts planned which provide the basis for understanding salmon and steelhead survival. Preliminary data from ongoing Tucannon monitoring efforts to date show:
- Minimum summer base flow in the Tucannon has increased by approximately 10-12 cfs over the last 14 years; over the same period, average daily maximum water temperatures have decreased by approximately 2.7° F while average daily maximum air temperatures have increased by approximately 2.7° F.
- The removal of over 2.5 miles of levee has reconnected 186 acres of previously inaccessible floodplain to the river.
- In-stream structural complexity has increased following project implementation primarily due to the addition of large wood (>5000 pieces) and formation of additional pool habitat (20% increase), mid-channel bars (99% increase), and side channels (7.5 miles created or reconnected).
- Improvements in habitat conditions following project implementation have increased the modeled carrying capacity for juvenile Chinook by 10%.
- Preliminary project data following project implementation shows juvenile Chinook densities increased by between 38-89% compared to control reaches sampled at the same time.
- Pre-project monitoring data are being used by sponsors to optimize designs, and post-project data are being used to instigate and justify adaptive management actions to improve project function.
- Fish monitoring efforts in coordination with habitat monitoring are providing an indication of project effectiveness, fish-habitat relationships, and population level abundance and survival estimates.
To allow for ongoing habitat restoration success in the Tucannon, continued funding of a locally coordinated monitoring effort for both habitat and fish population response is required. This effort must be aligned with the ongoing restoration efforts. Here in the Tucannon, we have several examples of how this has been successfully done. 1. Showing value to our local landowners and stakeholders for project support and also project implementation, 2. Use of monitoring data to document LWD structure stability, 3. Started to redistribute restoration efforts based on migration timing and survival of Chinook, 4. Utilizing monitoring data at a 2014 project implemented site to make the case for adaptive management, 5. Use of information on wood diameter and size and fish response to justify utilizing larger wood in restoration design and implementation. We have a locally supported and coordinated effort and hope that you will continue to support it,
The intensity and relative proportion of stream restoration efforts in the Tucannon are unprecedented in the Pacific Northwest. What makes habitat project implementation in the Tucannon so unique is the relative scale and amount large wood being placed on private, state, and federal lands. With no navigable waters in the Tucannon, channel spanning wood structures are being used to return natural processes through aggradation of the streambed to restore floodplain connectivity for salmon and steelhead. Often pools are the measure of success, but in the Tucannon before pool creation can happen, the bed itself must aggrade before there is enough gravel to naturally form a pool. Therefore, large wood is used to slow velocities in the channel to deposit gravel for the restoration of natural processes. Already over 13.2 miles of floodplain project implementation, which includes approximately 40 large wood jams per mile have been completed in the 56 mile focus area in the Tucannon. By 2019, 46% of the mainstem Tucannon River will have experienced restoration.
The Tucannon River Habitat Programmatic was established under management of the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board (SRSRB) in 2011, to aid Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in the restoration of habitat limiting factors identified under the Federal Columbia River Power System 2008 BiOp. The purpose of the Programmatic is to improve Snake River ESU spring Chinook habitat in the Tucannon River by 17% over the life of the BiOp. The SRSRB manages the implementation of the programmatic as a restoration program funding restoration projects identified and prioritized in the Conceptual Restoration Plan, Reach 6 to 10 Tucannon R Phase II_November 2011 (Anchor QEA 2011).
Project implementation is conducted by the program partners including the Columbia Conservation District (CCD), Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), Nez Perce Tribe (NPT), Tri-State Steelheaders (TSS), Umatilla National Forest (UNF) & Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW).
The restoration priority restoration reach extends from ~river mile 20 upstream to river mile 50, as illustrated in the map of the watershed (Figure 4, left). The restoration goals & objectives are based in sciences and are supported by the Tucannon River Geomorphic Assessment and Habitat Restoration Study (Anchor April 2011). The geomorphic assessment (Anchor April 2011), completed by the CCD and the SRSRB Regional Technical Team (RTT) worked to revisit the habitat limiting factors and life stage most impacting the Tucannon spring Chinook.