Monitoring is an essential element of salmon enhancement. The purpose of our monitoring programs is to evaluate the effect of restoration work to improve natural watershed conditions and salmon resources. Volunteers are involved in all of our monitoring programs.
Monitoring may involve visiting a restoration site once a week, once a month or once a year depending on the goals of the study. Results of monitoring programs help guide designs for future restoration projects and document successes to funding entities.
Our Monitoring Programs
Volunteers and staff perform spawner surveys to count salmon returning to project sites. Surveys begin below the project site and continue upstream until well above the project site. Project sites are walked once per week during the spawning season.
Each week the total number of live adult salmonids, salmonid carcasses, and redds are counted and recorded by species. Tails are clipped to prevent counting the same carcass in subsequent surveys. Every redd is counted, measured, and flagged. A flag is tied directly above the redd with the date the redd was recorded written on the flag. This prevents redd disturbance during future surveys and double counting.
SFEG staff and volunteers track growth, survival, and changes in ground cover for riparian planting projects. Volunteers establish plots on new sites or visit existing plots then record health condition, height, and species of each individual tree and shrub planted within each plot. Volunteers also collect information on species composition for ground cover, canopy, and understory.
Data collected through our vegetation monitoring program help document project success/failure and provides useful feedback for SFEG staff about planting techniques, species selection, and maintenance.
This program allows individuals to develop skills in native and non-native plant identification, use of GPS, data collection and entry, and to make recommendations to improve future riparian planting projects. The program also gives volunteers the chance to see salmon restoration work in action and explore beautiful natural areas along the Skagit Watershed.
The Skagit Fisheries Juvenile Fish Monitoring Program is unique in that it is not an ongoing, annual event like vegetation and spawner surveys. Juvenile fish monitoring is usually directly project and grant based.
The monitoring includes using different techniques such as net seining to temporarily capture fish. These target fish include juvenile species such as Chinook and coho salmon, and steelhead trout. This is usually conducted in the spring from as early as February through the end of June and sites are monitored about every ten days.
Volunteers are welcome to assist with this program and can help with fish capture, identification and release. If you are interested in volunteering please contact us to find when the next Juvenile Fish Monitoring project is occurring.
Snorkel surveys are done by SFEG’s Habitat Restoration Coordinator along with other SFEG staff. This is a great way to see which fish are utilizing the restoration areas and also see the progress of SFEG projects. By floating along the streams underwater, we are able to see the juvenile fish much closer, making it easier to identify them. By accurately identifying juvenile fish, we can get a baseline assessment of stream community.
Macroinvertebrate communities are widely used for monitoring pollution and biological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. Many water quality programs have incorporated benthic macroinvertebrates into their protocols for assessing water quality and biological integrity, including the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. EPA, and over 40 state resource agencies. SFEG uses macroinvertebrate studies as an educational tool with youth and adults.