Lower Klamath River Tributary Juvenile Salmonid Assessment

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

Project IDYUROK-2019-3
Recovery DomainsN CA - S Oregon
Start Date03/01/2020
End Date09/30/2021
Last Edited04/10/2020
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Project Objectives
This project is a continuation of long-term population monitoring activities within two anadromous fish-bearing streams that are tributaries to the Lower Klamath River within the Yurok Indian Reservation. Data collected from Blue Creek and McGarvey Creek will be used to assess annual trends and viability of anadromous salmonid runs including: Coho Salmon that are federally and state listed as threatened, steelhead and Coastal Cutthroat Trout that are considered species of concern by the state, and the unique Lower Klamath late-fall Chinook. All of these fish are trust species that the Tribe has federally reserved fishing rights to harvest.

Due to the substantial shortfall in funding for FY19, the YTFP will partially fund trapping in Lower Klamath Tributaries. YTFP is contemplating whether we will be able to fund efforts in Blue Creek and McGarvey Creek, or if we will have to abandon monitoring efforts at one of these sites, and curtail efforts at the other site.

Project Description

This project focuses on long-term juvenile salmonid production emigrating from Blue Creek and McGarvay Creek. The goals of the project include answering questions concerning the annual trends, growth, and survival of outmigrating juvenile salmonid runs. These two streams have undergone extensive watershed restoration planning, implementation, and monitoring since the mid-1990’s. The Yurok Tribal Fisheries Program (YTFP) initiated annual outmigrant trapping projects in Blue and McGarvey Creeks in 1995 and 1997, respectively. The data collected will also be used to determine the contribution of Lower Klamath tributary stocks to the overall population of natural stocks in the Klamath River basin.

• Quantitatively determine the production of juvenile Chinook and Coho through the sampling of downstream migrants in both drainages during 2020. We will also trap steelhead and Coastal Cutthroat Trout. We will assess emigration timing and species and size composition for all fish species sampled, as well as an assessment of age composition for all juvenile steelhead and Cutthroat sampled.
• In McGarvey Creek, juvenile Coho will be PIT tagged to assess growth, movement, and survival through the use of trapping and SPI data.
• Information collected from Blue Creek Chinook abundance will be used to assess long-term monitoring at the watershed scale, assess trends over time, carrying capacity, and maximum sustainable yield to assist with establishing Tribal harvest management objectives.
• Provide the Tribe with the necessary data to provide informed input into Lower Klamath resource management planning, habitat restoration planning and implementation, treaty fishing rights, and ESA-related issues.
• Improve skills and knowledge of YTFP employees/Yurok Tribal members through hands-on experience conducting a diversity of fisheries monitoring projects.

This project is intended to improve the status of ESA-listed salmon and steelhead by providing information to address habitat limiting factors for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead in the McGarvey and Blue Creek watersheds. This will be accomplished by understanding the population dynamics of these species. Through this understanding, managers can improve management practices, focus restoration efforts, and work to maintain healthy salmon populations, prevent decline of ESA-listed salmon; and ensure overall sustainability of naturally-spawning salmon and steelhead.

Project Benefit    

Project Benefits

Provide data so that management actions (timber harvest, road maintenance, restoration efforts, harvest management of late-run fall Chinook, etc.) can be improved with respect to their effect on anadromous fish in general, and particularly with respect to ESA-listed SONCC Coho Salmon and late-fall Chinook Salmon.

In McGarvey Creek, considerable restoration has addressed limiting factors to juvenile Coho production through introduction of large woody debris, engineered log jams, reforestation, and creation of off-channel habitat (alcoves). In addition, installation of beaver dam analogs occurred during the summer/fall 2018 and will address another limiting factor which is over-summer rearing habitat that remains watered throughout the summer months. Success of these projects will be assessed through the continuation of the long-term data set for estimates of juvenile Coho outmigrants at the McGarvey Creek Pipe Trap. The success of restoration in addressing limiting factors such as over-winter and over-summer rearing habitat will be assessed through the response of the juvenile Coho population through time. A positive response in the juvenile population over time will infer that restoration has been successful. Furthermore, we are currently conducting analysis of overwinter survival for PIT tagged McGarvey Creek juvenile coho from brood year 2009 forward to assess the effect of restoration on juvenile coho overwinter survival. An increase in overwinter survival over time will infer that creation of over-winter habitat through restoration has resulted in a positive population response. We have also started to measure over-summer survival beginning in the summer of 2015. Therefore, analysis of population and over-winter/over-summer survival estimate trends over time will be used to assess whether restoration actions have addressed limiting factors in the McGarvey Creek watershed. A positive response in population estimates and/or survival will be used as indicators that restoration actions have been successful. Our results will be communicated through a technical report.
Recent restoration actions in the Blue Creek watershed include tribal acquisition of large tracts of the Blue Creek watershed and upslope restoration activities. Over 15,000 acres have been designated as an old growth forest preserve. In addition, within the next couple of year’s considerable instream restoration through the introduction of large woody debris, engineered log jams, and flood plain connectivity will address limiting factors within the Blue Creek watershed. The Yurok Tribe exercises treaty fishing and subsistence rights on Blue Creek Chinook and the mentioned restoration actions are anticipated to benefit the population. Continuation of the long term monitoring of juvenile Chinook production at the Blue Creek rotary screw trap will help inform the success of these restoration actions. An increase in juvenile Chinook production over time will infer that restoration actions have been successful. In addition, we are currently analyzing the stock recruitment relationship between juvenile production and adult estimates to determine density dependent relationships within Blue Creek Chinook that may help inform upcoming instream restoration actions. An increase in recruits per spawner over time will infer that restoration actions have been successful. The stock-recruit relationship may also be used to create maximum sustained yield and harvest management decisions for the Blue Creek stock. Since the most significant restoration actions have not yet taken place in Blue Creek we will communicate what we have learned from the previous 20 years of monitoring about Blue Creek monitoring in a report including the stock- relationship. Our results will be communicated through a technical report.


Metric Completed Originally
Research and Monitoring
  Stream Miles Monitored 46.00

Funding Details

Report Total:$41,063

Project Map


Blue Creek    

  • Worksite Identifier: Blue Creek
  • Start Date:
  • End Date:
Area Description
Lower Klamath River

Location Information

  • Basin: Klamath
  • Subbasin:
  • Watershed:
  • Subwatershed:
  • State: California
  • Recovery Domain: N CA - S Oregon
  • Latitude: 41.444213
  • Longitude: -123.907015


    No ESU data was found for this worksite.




  • E.0 Salmonid Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation (RM&E)Y (Y/N)
    •      . . E.0.a RM&E Funding .00
    •      . . E.0.b
      Complement habitat restoration project
    •      . . E.0.c
      Project identified in a plan or watershed assessment.
    •      . . E.0.d.1 Number of Cooperating Organizations
    •      . . E.0.d.2
      Name Of Cooperating Organizations.
    •      . . E.0.e.1 Number of reports prepared
    •      . . E.0.e.2
      Name Of Report
    •      . . E.1 MonitoringY (Y/N)
      •      . . . . E.1.a Monitoring funding
      •      . . . . E.1.b.1 Stream Miles Monitored
      •      . . . . E.1.b.2 Acres of Watershed Area Monitored
      •      . . . . E.1.b.3 Square miles of water monitored (Square miles)
      •      . . . . E.1.c.2 Salmonid smolt or fry monitoringY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . E.1.d
          Name Of Comprehensive Monitoring Strategy/Program