White Salmon River Subbasin Monitoring and Evaluation Post-Dam Removal

Salmonid Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RM&E)

Monitoring Research
Project ID15-Yaka-03
Recovery DomainsWillamette and Interior Columbia
Start Date07/01/2016
End Date06/30/2021
Last Edited08/16/2021
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The objective of this proposal is to document abundance, spatial distribution, and genetic diversity of anadromous salmonids returning to the White Salmon River following the removal of Condit Dam in 2011-12. This project conducted spawning ground surveys (adult and redd counts, mark-recapture sampling of carcasses) for spawner abundance and distribution; carcass sampling to determine spawner origin, genetic characteristics, and demographics. 7.6 stream miles were surveyed 3 to 4 times during the spawning season, with adult and redd counts and spawner escapement estimated using methods described in Gallagher et al. (2007). Genetic samples from intact carcasses were collected for stock identification. Project work occurred during Summer 2020 and Spring 2021.

Regular foot surveys were conducted every two weeks in each river reach within the known geographic range for each species. Individual redds were counted and their locations recorded using handheld GPS units. Biodegradable flagging was used to mark redds and to avoid double counting. Counts of live fish and carcasses were also recorded. Carcasses were examined for sex determination, egg/milt retention (percent spawned), and presence of external marks. Scale and genetic samples were also taken from carcasses using methods outlined in Crawford et al. (2007). Timing of spawning ground surveys was as follows: Coho – late October through late January; Steelhead – early March through mid-June. Attempts were made to cover the entire known accessible spawning range of each species, although in some cases, access, flows, and visibility may limit surveys. Data products included redd counts by reach and subwatershed, GIS data of spatial redd distribution, and, conditions permitting, subwatershed (White Salmon tributary)-scale estimates of spawner abundance (following methods such as Gallagher et al. 2007 and Liermann et al. 2015).

Project Benefit    

After a century of blocking anadromous fish passage on the White Salmon River, Condit Dam has now been removed. Initial dam breach occurred on October 26, 2011 and all remaining dam structures were removed by October 2012. Monitoring of recolonization by anadromous adult salmonids by various agencies is only being accomplished in a minimal and piecemeal fashion. Previous projects have documented pre-dam removal baseline fish population and habitat conditions and have monitored abundance and distribution of certain stocks post-dam removal, but no long-term, stable funding for comprehensive M&E projects is currently identified or available. Data gaps exist for baseline VSP parameters, especially for Coho, Steelhead, and Chum populations. This project will document adult spawner escapement, spatial distribution, and genetic stock origin for Middle Columbia River Steelhead and Lower Columbia River Coho (both listed as ESA threatened) in several key tributaries to the White Salmon River (which constitute likely spawning and rearing streams). Other species (Chum, Spring and Fall Chinook) may be monitored in cooperation with other agencies as time and funding allow. A multi-agency workgroup and the ESA recovery plan for the White Salmon subbasin (NMFS 2013) have identified reintroduction plans for each of the anadromous populations; these plans require basic monitoring information (spawner escapement, spawner origin, and productivity) in order to arrive at decisions regarding artificial and/or natural production management. There are key uncertainties regarding whether or not fish populations are naturally recolonizing at a rate sufficient to meet management and recovery goals, or whether certain stocks may benefit from further management actions (artificial production or additional habitat actions). This proposal will provide some of this necessary information, and will help monitor effectiveness of a large dam removal and passage restoration project.


National Marine Fisheries Service. 2013. ESA Recovery Plan for the White Salmon River Watershed. http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/recovery_planning/salmon_steelhead/domains/willamette_lowercol/lower_columbia/final_plan_documents/white_salmon_recovery_plan__june_2013.pdf


Metric Completed Originally
Research and Monitoring
  Stream Miles Monitored 7.60 20.03

Funding Details

Report Total:$250,000

Project Map


Anadromous-accessible reaches of the White Salmon River subbasin     

  • Worksite Identifier: Anadromous-accessible reaches of the White Salmon River subbasin
  • Start Date: 03/01/2016
  • End Date: 06/30/2021
Area Description
HUC 17070105

Location Information

  • Basin: Middle Columbia
  • Subbasin:
  • Watershed:
  • Subwatershed:
  • State: Washington
  • Recovery Domain: Willamette and Interior Columbia
  • Latitude: 45.80243
  • Longitude: -121.48689


  • Lower Columbia River Coho Salmon ESU
  • Middle Columbia River Steelhead DPS




  • E.0 Salmonid Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RM&E)Y (Y/N)
    •      . . E.0.a RM&E Funding 250,000.00
    •      . . E.0.b
      Complement habitat restoration project
      Condit Dam Removal Project (PacifiCorp); Indian Creek Fish Passage Correction (SRFB Project #10-1734, Underwood Conservation District); Rattlesnake and Indian Cr. Fish Passage and Habitat (PCSRF Projects 2009-4-01 and 13-Yaka-01); + 1 more (see proposal)
    •      . . E.0.c
      Project identified in a plan or watershed assessment.
      Normandeau Associates, 2004, White Salmon Subbasin Plan: Prepared for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Portland, OR NMFS, 2013, ESA Recovery Plan for the White Salmon Watershed, National Marine Fisheries Service + 1 more (see proposal)
    •      . . E.0.d.1 Number of Cooperating Organizations 4
    •      . . E.0.d.2
      Name Of Cooperating Organizations.
      WDFW, USGS Columbia River Research Laboratory, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Underwood Conservation District
    •      . . E.0.e.1 Number of reports prepared 3
    •      . . E.0.e.2
      Name Of Report
      this report – Final Report for PCSRF Project 15-Yaka-03 White Salmon Monitoring and Evaluation Post Dam Removal, plus USGS reports referenced in Appendix A of attached final report.
    •      . . E.1 MonitoringY (Y/N)
      •      . . . . E.1.a Monitoring funding 125,000.00
      •      . . . . E.1.b.1 Stream Miles Monitored 7.60
      •      . . . . E.1.b.2 Acres of Watershed Area Monitored 64.0
      •      . . . . E.1.b.3 Square miles of water monitored.1 (Square miles)
      •      . . . . E.1.c.1 Adult salmonid population monitoringY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . E.1.c.1.a # miles (to nearest 0.01 mile) monitored for adult salmonids 7.60
      •      . . . . E.1.c.4 Redd countsY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . E.1.c.4.a # miles (to nearest 0.01 mile) monitored for redds 7.60
      •      . . . . E.1.c.5 Carcass countsY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . E.1.c.5.a # miles (to nearest 0.01 mile) monitored for Carcasses 7.60
        •      . . . . E.1.d
          Name Of Comprehensive Monitoring Strategy/Program
        •      . . . . E.1.e
          Description of monitoring
          Spawner surveys, carcass counts, spawner escapement and distribution, smolt outmigration monitoring, stream electrofishing/abundance surveys.
      •      . . E.2 ResearchY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . E.2.a Research Funding 125,000.00
        •      . . . . E.2.b.2 tissue sampling and analysisY (Y/N)
          •      . . . . . . E.2.b.2.a
            Key issues addressed by tissue sampling and analysis research
        •      . . . . E.2.b.3 Genetic analysisY (Y/N)
          •      . . . . . . E.2.b.3.a
            Key issues addressed by genetic analysis research