Rejuvenating Spawning Beds to Increase Anadromous Fish Production

Project ID: 1049
Principal Investigator: Juddson Sechrist
Research Topic: Sediment Management and River Restoration
Funded Fiscal Years: 2010
Keywords: None

Research Question

* Is the Sand Wand Active Exclusion Technology a viable/feasible management tool for facilitating increased spawning incidence and reproductive success of spawning anadromous fishes in Reclamations with unnatural levels of anthropogenic-based fine sediments and/or contaminants?

Current Reclamation efforts to comply with Biological Opinions issued under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for imperiled anadromous fish involve augmentation of framing gravels at established sights within a particular system. These augmentation efforts are expensive and impermanent (e.g., the augmentation efforts may occur annually). _In-situ_ rehabilitation, (e.g. removal of fines) from the native and established framing gravels within a spawning area may be less expensive for Reclamation and more effective at increasing spawning incidence and reproductive success where the technique can be applied.

Need and Benefit

Imperiled anadromous fish in Reclamation river basins are confronted with a lack of spawning habitat caused by dams or anthropogenic alteration / contamination as they return to rivers to spawn.

For instance, on the Lower Klamath River, below Irongate Dam, juvenile fish mortality in the past several years has approached 95 percent. If juvenile mortality could be reduced to 90 percent, the overall production of anadromous fish in the Klamath basin would double.
This proposal seeks to combine existing or emergent technologies in a manner that could significantly increase juvenile survival in rivers impacted by water withdrawals, logging, mining, or biolgical, bacterial, or viral contaminants.

As the Nation's largest water wholesaler, and second largest producer of hydropower, Reclamation is mandated to pay for recovery efforts of threatened and endangered species in the systems where it operates. These cost are usually based on ESA mandated Biological Opinions and primarily involve hatcheries and river restoration programs. Reclamation's Pacific Northwest and Mid-Pacific Regions currently spend millions each year on recovery efforts associated with anadromous fish production.

The annual impacts to Reclamation's mission, in terms of water delivery obligations, water conservation, improving water supply flexibility, are enormous. Opportunities to lower or ameliorate these costs are beneficial to Reclamation, and opportunities to do so in partnerships with customers, states, sister agencies and Indian Tribes are not only attractive, they are tactically advantageous. Reclamation currently has the opportunity (using Sand Wand technology) to access to private sector expertise and resources that complements mission driven research and development.

It is known that removal of interstitial fines from framework gravels on spawning beds is beneficial (Kondolf 2000, Merz and Setka 2004) but until recently it has not been possible in a targeted, or cost effective manner. Should this restoration tool prove effective at increasing redd densities and survival of anadromous fishes in areas where spawning habitat is a limiting factor to recovery, then Reclamation stakeholders will benefit. These benefits will likely manifest through

* Widespread regional application and technology transfer within the agency

* Cost -benefit ratios compared with current spawning bed restoration efforts

* Cleaner, less contaminated water

* Decreased chances of water and power delivery interruption.

Literature Cited:
Kondolf, G. M. 2000. Assessing salmonid spawning gravel quality. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society vol. 129 pp. 262-281.

Merz J. E. and J. D. Setka. Evaluation of a spawning habitat enhancement site for chinook salmon in a regulated California river. North American Journal of Fisheries Management vol 24 pp. 397-407.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20