Monitoring and Assessment of Fish Habitat Compensation and Stewardship Projects

We present a three-level strategy for monitoring and evaluating fish habitat compensation and stewardship projects. Basic routine monitoring is applied to stewardship projects and to minor compensation projects (e.g. small riparian planting projects). More rigorous and quantitative site effectiveness monitoring, emphasizing paired before-after control-impact (BACIP) experimental designs, is applied to larger and/or more complex compensation and stewardship projects. We stress the most important principles outlined in this guidebook (establishing measurable objectives, reference and control sites, replication, and pre-impact information) as the key elements upon which to focus any monitoring program. Program effectiveness evaluation, which applies adaptive management methods to studies involving multiple projects, is recommended using standard methods. Study design and appropriate methods are discussed for all three monitoring levels and detailed descriptions of suitable analytical techniques for assessment of no-net-loss of fish habitat are included. Four case studies are used to illustrate application of the routine and site effectiveness monitoring methods presented.

Salish Sucker Recovery Potential Assessment 2015

Little information is available on the natural history, abundance, population trends, and habitat use of the Salish Sucker. Consequently there are many uncertainties in this paper. The Salish Sucker is documented from 11 watersheds in Canada and six in Washington State. No populations are known to have been extirpated, but significant reductions in area occupied within many of the watersheds are documented. Insufficient information exists to estimate minimum viable population size, but the Salish Sucker’s life history traits are associated with rapid population growth, resilience to environmental disturbance, and the ability to rapidly (re)colonize habitat. Seasonal hypoxia is the leading threat, affecting up to two-thirds of the more than 180 km of proposed critical habitat in hot dry summers. Habitat destruction, seasonal dewatering, and toxicity are also considered significant threats. Sediment deposition, habitat fragmentation, and introduced predators may be significant but their impacts are poorly understood. Target population sizes vary from 1500 to 5000 adults in the 11 known populations. Estimates of current abundance exist for all or part of seven populations and are far below target populations in all cases. Achieving targets is feasible if the geographic extent of severe hypoxia in proposed critical habitat is reduced.

Potential Critical Habitat for Salish Sucker & Nooksack Dace

Potential critical habitat (PCH) is defined for Salish sucker and Nooksack dace. PCH is identified and mapped using reach-scale, in-stream habitat characteristics. PCH includes 166 km of channel and 328 km of bank in140 reaches and 11 watersheds. The width of riparian reserve necessary to maintain important habitat characteristics is included in PCH and was assessed using an adaptation of British Columbia’s Riparian Area Regulation (RAR) assessment methodology. It extends laterally from the top of bank along both banks of the full length of each potential critical habitat reach to a distance equal to the widest zone of sensitivity (ZOS) calculated for each of 5 riparian features, functions and conditions. These are: large woody debris supply for fish habitat and maintenance of channel morphology, localized bank stability, channel movement, shade, and insect and debris fall. Widths of riparian reserve in PCH reaches range from 5 to 30 m, with an average of 21.4 m (s. dev = 6.77) and total area encompasses 717 ha of land.

Existing riparian vegetation in PCH is sparse, with 60% of bank length supporting discontinuous bands of vegetation less than 5 m wide. This highlights the need for recovery activities focused on riparian enhancement and restoration. Permanent structures such as roads, farm crossings, buildings, and yards restrict the width of 106 km (32%) of riparian reserve within PCH to less than its calculated value. Actively farmed land and golf course fairways impinge on an additional 112 km (34%) of PCH length. Protecting this land is a priority for conserving these species and would provide benefits to a number of other SARA listed species, in addition to salmonids, surface water quality, and (in many cases) agricultural drainage.

The Ecology, Status & Recovery Prospects of Nooksack Dace and Salish Sucker in Canada

I studied the ecology and assessed the current status and prospects for recovery of two endangered fishes, the Salish sucker and the Nooksack dace. Salish sucker populations were located in 9 of 45 Fraser Valley watersheds. Distribution is discontinuous and abundance is spatially clumped at the regional and watershed scales. Populations are concentrated in headwaters, especially beaver ponds. The amount of deep pool habitat in a reach is the most powerful predictor of presence, but fish are usually absent if more than 50% of the land within 200 m of a reach is urban. Radio telemetry work showed that Salish suckers are crepuscular, have home ranges averaging 170 m of linear channel, made their longest movements during the spawning period (March to early June) and rarely crossed beaver dams. Relative to closely related Catostomids, they are small, early maturing, and have a prolonged spawning period. Nooksack dace are limited to three watersheds in Canada. Populations are spatially clumped. The amount of riffle habitat in a reach is the most powerful predictor of their presence, while long sections of deep pool are associated with absence. Mark-recapture work suggests that dace typically range over less than 50 m of channel, but that a small number venture further. Spawning is prolonged (April –July). Life history characteristics of both species are likely to impart good resilience to short-term disturbances of limited spatial scale, but not to the chronic, large-scale disruptions that affect their habitat in Canada. I identified eight potential threats and for each assessed species vulnerability, severity in each population’s watershed, and the ability of current legislation and policy to address it. In light of these three factors, Salish suckers appear most threatened by acute hypoxia and Nooksack dace are most threatened by lack of water. Both species have been strongly impacted by habitat destruction from drainage and infilling projects and may be vulnerable to introduced predators and habitat fragmentation. Toxicity from urban runoff, sediment deposition and riffle loss to beaver ponds (dace only) threaten individual populations, but are probably not major threats across the range.

Habitat Inventory and Enhancement Needs for Salish Sucker and Nooksack Dace

The purpose of this study is to inventory the extent and condition of habitat in the Canadian streams in which Salish sucker and Nooksack dace occur, and to identify and prioritize restoration needs based on available life history information for both species.

Appendix 2 contains desscriptions and data for each reach of Cave, Bertrand, Pepin, and Fishtrap Creeks surveyed during the summer of 1997. In addition specific habitat enhancement needs for each reach are identified and prioritized. The document is intended to provide fine-scale baseline information from which to assess habitat changes over time and to provide a basis for prioritizing specific projects.

Surrey Bend Data

  • We have been monitoring the effectiveness of a habitat compensation project in  Surrey Bend Regional Park.
  • Available data includes survivorship of riparian plants in habitat restoration areas, water quality, and fish capture from 2017.

Brunette River Data

  • We have done extensive work in the Brunette River monitoring habitat enhancement projects and monitoring the population of an endangered fish, the Nooksack dace.
  • Available data includes survivorship of riparian plants in habitat restoration areas, water quality, and fish capture from 2017.

Pearson Ecological fish capture and water quality data from all sites and all years

  • Our project data files. No analysis is included in these, but is usually available in posted Reports.
  • This file contains all of our fish capture and water quality data from all sites and all years.
  • The file is updated annually during the winter.
  • All data is georeferenced with UTM Coordinates, allowing it to be viewed spatially on GIS systems.
  • Standard British Columbia species codes are used.

Trestle Channel Effectiveness Monitoring Report 2017

In 2017 Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) initiated a pilot project to develop standard methods for routine effectiveness monitoring (REM) of their projects. Five recently completed, PSF funded project sites in the Fraser Valley were selected for inclusion. One of these is the Trestle Channel Project, the most recent phase of restoration of the Browne Creek Wetlands in south Chilliwack. The project was led by the Fraser Valley Watersheds Coalition (FVWC) with design and construction supervision provided by the local Resource Restoration Unit of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Work was completed in March 2016. It received support, including funding and in-kind contributions from a broad range of local institutions and organizations (FVWC 2015).

REM is envisioned as a collaboration between the group(s) that led project construction, the local First Nation and professional biologists. The intent is to collect high quality data for evaluation of project success, to increase awareness of habitat issues, and help build technical capacity within First Nations and the broader community. In this case members of Soowahlie First Nation, The WaterWealth Project and the broader Chilliwack community are working with the biologists and technicians of Pearson Ecological to collect the data.

This interim report presents results from the first season of monitoring (fall 2017) of the Trestle Channel project and reference sites. It includes data from macroinvertebrate and water quality sampling, salmon spawner surveys, and fish trapping. Additional data will be collected in spring and summer of 2018 on habitat quality, riparian health, amphibian breeding and other project characteristics to complete year one of monitoring in accordance with a monitoring plan (Pearson Ecological, 2018).