Coho Surveys: That’s a Wrap!

LEKT Natural Resources Department have been conducting annual Redd surveys on rivers and streams within the Tribe’s Usual and Accustomed Fishing areas since the early 1990’s. These areas contain over 400 miles of potential salmon spawning and rearing habitat, but it is not possible to sample every reach. The survey effort that begins in November and continues through the beginning of January is focused on habitat and prioritizes reaches that can characterized by specific size, gradient and valley confinement conducive to spawning. The geomorphologically selected sample includes 24 streams, divided into three regions: Western – Little Hoko, Leyh, Bridge, Cadillac, …READ MORE

NOAA Fisheries Elwha Data Portal Now Live!

Elwha Dam Removal Monitoring Data Researchers from NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center have been working with LEKT Natural Resources staff and partners to examine how riverine, estuarine and nearshore habitats continue to change since dam removal. Their team has just released on online database, where you can view and access the latest information on water temperature, habitat, fish (and more!) being collected by scientists. “NOAA scientists and partners have conducted monitoring and research on physical river-floodplain dynamics, water temperature, chemical changes in nutrients and stable isotopes, riverine benthic communities, juvenile salmonid diet, salmon recolonization and movement, genetics, and nearshore habitat and …READ MORE

Salmon Streams Are Closer Than You Think

LEKT Natural Resources Fisheries staff climb over the guardrail along highway 101 above the culvert that allows Tumwater Creek to flow beneath it to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The creek is nearly invisible from the road and they make their way down the steep banks to the narrow drainage, dropping gear on a cobble bar in the middle of a cool, clear and densely vegetated corner of the creek. The pristine nature of Tumwater Creek’s reach below Highway 101 is surprising, given its close proximity to the congestion of the edge of town. The purpose of this field …READ MORE

Summer Youth in Natural Resources Share Their Experiences

Bridget Weed is in her second Summer working with the Wildlife team at Natural Resources and has spent most of her time helping maintain camera traps and analyze the photo data that is collected, but has also had the opportunity to join attempted cougar captures as a part of the Olympic Cougar Project. Bridget says that even when she’s not in the field, she really enjoys looking through the images at all of the different wildlife. “One time there was a picture of a bobcat looking directly into the camera! I get surprised by how much the animals are actually …READ MORE

Elementary school students participate in historic release year for the House of Salmon

I crouched down with my camera ready to capture the moment of release, but rather than the right out of the gate scene I expected, the fish remained still. Familiarity with their rearing environment and their schooling behavior both support the (somewhat anticlimactic) slow reaction of the smolts to realize their opportunity to enter into the lower Elwha River where they will begin their migration to the ocean. It would be several hours before the majority of the fish would leave, under the cover of darkness and after they had acclimated to the channel.     Since it began its …READ MORE

Monitoring Smolts: It’s All Downstream From Here

Each spring, when the creeks and rivers begin to swell again, Steelhead and Coho parr (young salmon between the stages of fry and smolt) are preparing to migrate. This process is known as smoltification, which is characterized by the development of the shiny, silvery scales that will externally distinguish them as so-called ‘smolts’ but also involves other complex physiological changes, such as increased salinity tolerance and olfactory imprinting, which are critical to their success in the oceanic phase of their life cycle. And all hands are on deck at Natural Resources to support the Fisheries team in monitoring these juvenile …READ MORE

Elwha River: Tributaries & Volunteers

Just West of the Elwha River, near the new bridge construction on Highway 101, I join Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT) Natural Resources Department staff, Clallam Conservation District (CCD) organizers and local volunteers who are gathered around a trailer full of young plants. Recovering pre-dam salmon habitat in the Elwha valley goes beyond the Elwha River itself; it includes tributaries that provide water, sediments and organic material, as well as places for adults to spawn and their offspring to grow. The importance of Indian Creek for fish habitat has only been recently realized once again. “I had surveyed Indian Creek …READ MORE

Student Volunteers Collect Water Temperature Data

Long-term Elwha River Temperature Monitoring Depends on Enduring Partnerships Text and photos by: Chelsea Behymer & Sarah Morley On a soggy Saturday morning in January, a group of Environmental Science and Civil Engineering undergraduate students from Seattle University are greeted by NOAA research ecologist Sarah Morley at the Olympic National Park boundary gate adjacent to the Elwha River. The parking lot where they are gathered is the furthest point that can be driven upriver since the Olympic Hot Springs access road began flooding in 2015 and eventually gave way to the river’s reclamation of its historic channels. From there, the …READ MORE

From the Field: A Day with the Wildlife Team

Text & photos by: Chelsea Behymer, Science Outreach Coordinator Wildlife camera images courtesy of: LEKT, NPS, USGS The novel and the rare are precious, invigorating things. During our lunch break, we savor the sunshine that envelops an emergent meadow on the floodplain of the Elwha River even more than our food on a crisp, clear Winter day. I’ve just helped Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT) Natural Resources Department wildlife biologist Sara Cendejas-Zarelli install camera traps on a well-established American Beaver dam that her team had first observed the previous Summer. She had brought the extra cameras along as a potential …READ MORE