Evaluating Salmon Rearing Limitations in River Deltas

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North Fork Skagit River Fishtown Bar area.JPG
This effort is linked to Coordinated Investment pilot work

Project Objectives

This ESRP learning project, led by Correigh Greene (NOAA Fisheries), Eric Beamer (Skagit River System Cooperative) and Josh Chamberlin (NOAA Fisheries), sheds light on a critical uncertainty with respect to developing process-based restoration actions that maximize function for outmigrating Chinook salmon by seeking to understand the circumstances under which Chinook outmigrants are limited by the quantity or quality of natal tidal wetland habitat. This project is unique with respect to its broad geographic range (we examined fish-habitat relationships in four tidal river deltas of Puget Sound: the Nooksack, Skagit, Snohomish, and Nisqually) and its integration of multiple datasets to explore both the patterns and mechanisms driving habitat limitation in Chinook natal estuaries. This project provides insights to inform both future estuary restoration actions as well as broader Chinook conservation efforts in Puget Sound. This body of work offers several practical insights for restoring habitat-forming processes in estuarine tidal wetlands, finding that restoration efforts that focus on connectivity, habitat complexity and habitat diversity are most likely to maximize rearing function for juvenile Chinook salmon. It also points to future work to better understand the relationship between natural origin (NOr) and hatchery origin (HOr) juvenile Chinook salmon in tidal wetland habitats of Puget Sound.

Reports and Publications

Funding and Scope

  • Funded by ESRP program in state FY 2013-15
  • The project expanded from the originally envisioned Skagit and Snohomish deltas to include the Nooksack and Nisqually deltas
  • Supported by NOAA
  • Project Contract in PRISM

Principal Investigators and Collaborators