Woods Creek Fish Passage Assessment
Habitat loss occurs on a daily basis, often because we don’t think about the consequences of what might seem like innocuous actions. When something becomes commonplace, there is a tendency to overlook the problem or to assume that nothing can be done to correct the problem. Every road that crosses a stream needs a culvert (or bridge) to allow water to pass under the road, whether it be a major highway, driveway, or a logging road high in the watershed; likewise every drainage ditch needs a culvert to pass water under the road and every irrigation system and water diversion system in agricultural lands also need culverts to pass water. Many culverts have been installed on streams without consideration for fish passage. This can block fish access to many miles of upstream channel and cause maintenance, flooding, or erosion problems for landowners. Additionally, many structures cross channels which are believed to be non-fish-bearing, but which actually support native fish species.
In October 2014, Wild Fish Conservancy entered into an agreement with Snohomish Conservation District to conduct fish passage barrier assessments on structures crossing fish-bearing channels in the Woods Creek Drainage basin in Snohomish County. Where access is granted WFC is assessing culverts and stream crossing structures using the protocol provided in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) . Field measurements (structure material, diameter, length, slope, outfall drop and location) and stream characteristics are collected and maintenance issues noted. Wild Fish Conservancy uses this information to determine the barrier status (i.e., ‘barrier,’ ‘partial-barrier,’ and ‘non-barrier’) for each crossing assessed.
Survey results from the Woods Creek Fish Passage Assessments will be used to help interested landowners in securing funding to voluntarily replace structures which are impeding fish passage or likely to fail on high priority streams. Often these structures can be replaced at no cost to the landowner through programs such as the State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the , Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program (ESRP) or through the Federal USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (Equip). If you are a landowner in the Woods Creek Watershed and are interested in having your structure(s) assessed or would like to find out more information about funding opportunities please call Mary Lou White, Project Manager / Biologist Wild Fish Conservancy (206) 310-9304.