WASHINGTON, D.C.—Climate change is perhaps the most immediate threat to the long-term survival of trout and salmon in the western United States, including not only higher stream temperatures but more intense drought, wildfires and floods. Fortunately, well-designed restoration work on specific streams and throughout entire watersheds can help alleviate the worst of its impacts and give trout and salmon a fighting chance, according to a new paper published this week by the journal Fisheries.
The report, produced by several members of the Trout Unlimited Science Team and one former member who now works for the University of Georgia, highlights restoration work done on three separate streams in the West, and shows how specific restoration practices can combat the ill effects of a changing climate. Published by the American Fisheries Society’s journal, Fisheries, the report, titled “Climate Change Adaptation and Restoration of Western Trout Streams: Opportunities and Strategies,” highlights four necessary elements for climate change adaptation projects when it comes to arming trout and salmon streams against the impacts of climate change. They are:
•Assessment of habitat on and near trout and salmon streams that dictate a restoration project’s location and design.
•Projects must directly address the impacts of climate change and make it easier for the habitat to deal with those impacts.
•Projects that have the potential to be combined with other projects to address the watershed-scale impacts of climate change.
•Projects that include ample monitoring to gauge success.
The paper focuses on three specific streams in the West—Crow Creek in eastern Idaho; Maggie Creek in northwest Nevada; and Wasson Creek in western Montana. All three streams suffered from numerous sources of degradation, ranging from the impacts of past mining to a long history of unchecked grazing, and all three streams have a public/private nexus. Restoration work conducted on the three streams ranged from reintroducing Crow Creek to its original channel to working with ranchers to increase stream flows in Wasson Creek to the removal of livestock from Maggie Creek. In all three instances, these efforts resulted in better stream habitat, increased stream functionality and lower water temperatures, which is key to trout survival.
“Climate change requires us to take stream restoration to the next level: to practice restoration across entire watersheds and to realize that good projects may take decades instead of a year or two. When working at these broader scales, partnerships and community involvement are critical,” said Jack Williams, TU’s senior scientist and one of the authors of the paper. “Without the enthusiastic cooperation from our partners, it’s not likely we would have been able to do the restoration work, let alone monitor the long-term impacts of that work.”
Other authors of the paper include Helen Neville, Amy Haak, Warren Colyer and Stan Bradshaw, all of Trout Unlimited, and Seth Wenger of the University of Georgia.
The paper can be found in its entirety in the July issue of Fisheries and can be read in its entirety online at http://fisheries.org/climate-change-adaptation-and-restoration-of-western-trout-streams-opportunities-and-strategies.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, and visit us online at tu.org.
Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society is world’s oldest and largest society for fisheries scientists and managers. The Society publishes five journals, Fisheries, and 180 current book titles. Learn more at fisheries.org and follow AFS on Facebook andTwitter.