Clear Creek Aquatic Habitat Assessment and Fish Population Monitoring

Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development Council’s objective for an Aquatic Habitat Condition Assessment and Fish Population Monitoring project was to provide an inventory of habitat conditions, establish a baseline for impact analyses, and to document fish distribution and relative abundance in the Clear Creek watershed on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest near Kooskia, Idaho.  Stillwater Sciences was hired to implement a science-based approach to watershed assessment to support focused, consensus-driven management decisions. A robust, statistically-driven sampling framework and custom field protocols, were developed to collect data in a systematic way and meet all project objetives.

Our familiarity with a range of fish habitat assessment and population monitoring methods allowed us to efficiently develop a logical sampling framework and apply field protocols consistent with ongoing regional fish habitat monitoring efforts, allowing acquisition of high quality data to inform long-term restoration planning.  Development of the sampling framework and methods were done in close coordination   with stakeholders within the Clear Creek study area and the larger Clearwater Basin.; We also took advantage of the knowledge of local biologists and landowners  in developing site access strategies and ensuring the safety of field crews. Stillwater crews safely carried out habitat mapping and snorkel surveys of 26 miles of stream habitat in very remote field conditions with significant access challenges.  Stillwater’s approach met the following project goals:

  • Described current stream channel and fish habitat conditions
  • Identified potentially suitable salmon and steelhead spawning habitat
  • Determined spatial distribution and relative abundance of salmonids
  • Identified and evaluated potential barriers to fish migration
  • Established baseline datasets for determining impacts to aquatic habitat that can be attributed to the implementation of land management activities
  • Established two permanent monitoring stations for the evaluation of potential changes to the physical habitat (e.g., spawning gravels), the physical processes (e.g., channel aggradation/degradation), and relevant water quality parameters (e.g., stream temperature)
  • Calculated fish-population estimates at five permanent monitoring stations.
     

Overview

Location:  Clear Creek watershed, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, Idaho

Clients:  Clearwater Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc.

Project Manager: David DeKrey, Fisheries Biologist

Project Lead(s)

David DeKrey
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Work Products

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Final Report
Appendices

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Snorkel surveys were the primary means used to assess fish distribution and relative abundance in the Clear Creek watershed.

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