Wenatchee Watershed Cold Water Campaign

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Wenatchee Watershed Cold Water Campaign from Native Fish Society on Vimeo.

Protect Cold Water & Conserve Native Fish

Native Fish Society's Wenatchee Watershed Cold Water Campaign will identify, assess and conserve critical cold-water habitats for threatened salmon, steelhead and trout in Washington’s Wenatchee River. To accomplish this NFS Wenatchee River Steward Russ Ricketts, NFS staff and local partners seek to raise $20,000 to monitor thermal refuges during the summer of 2017.

As a result of this campaign, temperature, spatial, and species information will be crunched into a scoring system that will help wild fish advocates, fisheries agencies and habitat restoration partners prioritize habitat protection and restoration actions that best protect and enhance the Wenatchee's cold water habitats.

As an additional outcome of this project, what we learn about identifying and protecting cold water refugia will be refined and passed along to our over 80 River Stewards across the Northwest, who can use a Cold Water Refugia toolkit and the equipment from this campaign to conduct similar efforts in their own watersheds.

Why Preserve Cold Water Habitats?

The summer of 2015 was record setting across the Pacific Northwest. Abnormally low snowpack, record air temperatures, and low flows combined to create one of the most stressful summers for cold-water fish species on record. While some salmon and trout populations were able to find critical lifesaving stopping points in cold-water refuges along their upstream migration, others were exposed to lethal water temperatures and temperature-driven mortalities were common across the region.

As future climate models predict these scenarios to become the norm, it is especially important to focus conservation efforts on identifying and protecting critical habitats for threatened populations of cold-water native fish species and working collaboratively with local stakeholders to conserve these species for future generations. This is exactly why we’re hosting the Wenatchee Watershed Cold Water Campaign.

Project Overview

Your contribution to this project will develop a science-based foundation for prioritizing actions that will protect essential cold-water habitats for sensitive populations of Chinook, sockeye and coho salmon, summer steelhead, bull and cutthroat trout, and Pacific Lamprey in the Wenatchee River. Our work plan includes first identifying, assessing, and mapping thermal refugia.

Several data gathering techniques will be used: temperature sensors will be placed in and around refugia to continually log data throughout the summer, a forward looking infrared camera(FLIR) will be flown with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to quantify the extent of the cold water refuge, and snorkel surveys will be conducted during the hottest portions of the summer to connect the environmental data with fish survey data.

The assessment will encompass several scoring criteria:

  1. Location- Where are these refuges located?
  2. Extent and quality- How large and how cold are the refuges? What is the projected capacity of these areas?
  3. Habitat- What is the quality of the aquatic and terrestrial habitat in these reaches in relation to supporting the needs of fish?
  4. Future projected quality - Where do these cold waters come from and what is the anticipated reliability of their sources in the future?
  5. Current fish usage - Are fish currently using these refuges? What species and life stage? Once data collection is complete, we will present this information to local public and private stakeholders to enable land and fish managers to prioritize future habitat enhancements, land purchases, and other conservation measures that will contribute to the long-term survival of imperiled native fish species in the basin.

Support & Giving Perks

Your contribution to this project is a tax-deductible donation and is absolutely critical to helping protect these threatened fish. Funds raised through this campaign will assist our equipment and supplies needs, and the operational support for collecting temperature readings at over a dozen different locations.

To donate click here, then check the box for campaign specific donations and select the Wenatchee Watershed Cold Water Campaign from list.

Giving Perks include:

Donate Here!


For more information about the Wenatchee River check out its watershed page.

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