Research and Monitoring
Despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested annually to protect and recover declining fish populations in the Northwest, many fundamental questions regarding our region’s wild-fish resources remain unanswered. Where are juvenile fish rearing? What habitat conditions do they require? Which are most important, and which do they lack? Are Northwest streams mapped correctly? Are they protected as warranted by law? How will climate change affect the future of the region’s fish populations?
Existing assumptions have too often been made in lieu of empirical study. Testing those assumptions drives Wild Fish Conservancy’s Research and Monitoring program. We collaborate with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies, as well as universities and other conservation professionals, to collect primary field data to inform policymakers and recovery planners.
We are continually engaged in research and monitoring projects throughout the region. Current studies include the Icicle Creek Recolonization Study, a long-term investigation in east-central Washington measuring how the process of recolonization by migratory fish occurs, and how the return of anadromy impacts overall watershed health. The West Whidbey Nearshore Fish-Use Assessment, a nearly completed research project on the western shore of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, has provided important new information about juvenile-fish migration that can improve salmon-recovery management.
Some of the Wild Fish Conservancy's most fundamental monitoring initiatives are our ongoing water-typing surveys, the mapping of fish presence and habitat characteristics to correct the misclassification of fish-bearing stream reaches.