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South Puget Sound Water Type Assessment Project

During the spring months of 2005, 2006, and 2007, Wild Fish Conservancy crews performed watertype assessments on 167 streams that flow directly into South Puget Sound near Olympia (Figure 1). Surveys were conducted along streams at public road right-of-ways as well as private parcels of land where permission was granted.

south_puget_sound_oblique_view

Figure 1. South Puget Sound in western Washington. Stream in blue were included in the Wild Fish Conservancy watertype assessment.

 
The survey covered approximately 61,000 acres, encompassing 162 miles of stream channel.  Over 1700 photographs (with associated channel condition descriptions) are presented on the interactive map.  Fish species encountered during the surveys included cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, coho salmon, chinook salmon, sculpin, stickleback, Olympic mudminnow, and brook lamprey.

As expected based on previous Wild Fish Conservancy watertype assessments, significant discrepancies existed between the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) regulatory maps and what we found on the ground.  For example, on Cooper Point WDNR had identified 16.2 miles of streams.  Following our surveys, WFC mapped 28.1 miles of stream (Figure 2).

cooper_point_comparison_map

Figure 2. Cooper Point in South Puget Sound. The map of left shows WDNR's regulatory hydro layer, the map on the right shows WFC's field-verified map.

 

Summary statistics for the entire survey (to date, covering 160 miles of streams on 61,000 acres on north Thurston County) show that WDNR had identified 134.6 miles of streams while WFC mapped 161.6 miles of stream (Table 1).  Note that when WFC did not have permission to access a stream reach and could not verify water type from upstream, that stream reach was listed as Type U (Type 9, or Unknown) regardless of how WDNR had classified that reach. 

Table 1. Summary water type classification statistics for the entire watertype assessment to date, covering 167 streams on 61,000 acres on North Thurston County.

 table1

The Water type Assessment project is ongoing; Wild Fish Conservancy crews are currently performing field surveys in Puget Sound drainages in Mason County (WRIA 14).  We are also seeking additional funds to expand surveys to other regions of the state.

Funding for this project was provided by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.  Wild Fish Conservancy would also like to acknowledge the support and assistance provided to this project by through WRIA 13 Lead Entity process, including but not limited to representatives from WDFW, the Squaxin Island Tribe, Thurston County, Thurston Regional Planning Council, City of Olympia, City of Tumwater, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Thurston Conservation District, Capital Land Trust, and People for Puget Sound.

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