West Fork Environmental provided field crews to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) in support of fisheries research and monitoring in the Cedar River Municipal Watershed for six years. Our field support for spawning ground surveys covered multiple species and locations in the watershed including kokanee salmon, Chinook and coho salmon, bull trout and pygmy whitefish.
Our staff responded and adapted to the needs of Seattle Public Utilities biologists, including adapting our schedule based on current weather and flow conditions, and became an integral part of the fisheries program, responding at times to requests for field assistance on short notice. We collaborated with SPU biologists to deploy standard field methods and data collection protocols for all aspects of the fisheries monitoring program.
Bull trout and pygmy whitefish research and monitoring studies were outlined in the Cedar River Habitat Conservation Plan and focused on the distribution, movement and growth of bull trout (ESA threatened) & pygmy whitefish (WDFW species of concern) throughout the upper watershed of the Cedar River. West Fork staff collaborated with SPU and USGS biologists to use PIT tag technology for the mark and recapture of juveniles and adults, and developed and implemented a series of PIT tag antenna arrays capable of recording movements within and between portions of the upper basin.
West Fork staff also provided support in the study of seasonal movements of adults of both species within the reservoir associated with the upper watershed (Chester Morse Lake) through the use of acoustic telemetry. The combined results of these studies demonstrate West Fork's flexibility to support a wide range of fisheries field studies. The data we collected has served to provide one of the most robust descriptions of bull trout and pygmy whitefish life histories in the region, including the predator prey relationship between these species.