A rotary screw trap for fisheries research is being temporarily installed again this year on the lower White Salmon River. The fish trap will be used by the U.S. Geological Survey and Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group to monitor migrant juvenile salmon and steelhead. The work is part of a broader assessment of fish recolonization of the White Salmon River after the removal of Condit Dam.
Boaters should use extreme caution near the trap. The trap is located on river left, at river mile 1.4 near the “White Salmon ponds,” which are old, cement fish-rearing raceways. The site is about 0.6 miles downstream of the Powerhouse and Old Skamania Bridge, also called the Burnt Bridge. Warning signs have been installed upstream of the trap location to alert boaters. The rotary screw trap will be installed in late March or early April and operate as late as mid-June.
This is the second year of a study into juvenile salmon and steelhead returning to the White Salmon River after the 2012 removal of Condit Dam. Several of the species being studied are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, including lower Columbia Chinook salmon, lower Columbia coho salmon, Columbia River chum salmon, Mid-Columbia steelhead, and bull trout.
More than $37 million has been invested in restoring fish passage to the White Salmon River, and efforts are now underway to learn about the results of that investment. The 2017 monitoring of juvenile salmon includes the rotary screw this spring and sampling fish populations with backpack electrofishing equipment in the summer. The work is being supported by grants from the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the Clark-Skamania Flyfishers.
This work is part of an effort by scientists from several agencies and the Yakama Nation to study the distribution and abundance of fish that are recolonizing the White Salmon River.
Prior to the removal of Condit Dam, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey studied fish populations in the White Salmon River as well as Rattlesnake and Buck Creeks.
With new data, scientists will be able to begin comparing changes in fish populations in the river and learn about natural fish recolonization after a large dam removal project.