Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) performs implementation and effectiveness monitoring to ensure the success of our projects. We monitor the survival of our trees and shrubs at our planting sites, fish presence at instream project sites, temperature at select sites, and complete habitat assessments at instream habitat sites.
We monitored over 12,000 plants at 59 different sites. Our overall survival was 90.8%. We will replant if mortality exceeds 20% .
Our monitoring also includes new conifer test species. We are experimenting with planting Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Incense Cedar, and Giant Sequoias along with our Western Red Cedars, which seem to be in decline. We are looking for a long-lived Western US conifer that produces full shade which may be better suited to our warming climate.
We have added over four years of project sites and vegetation monitoring data to GIS maps. We also have created a story map to share results.
NSEA monitors fish presence at our instream habitat and fish passage projects. To determine if fish are utilizing habitat upstream of recently removed fish passage barriers, our team conducts spawner surveys October through January. Spawner surveys are also conducted at sites where we have improved instream habitat through the placement of large woody debris to scour pools and sort gravels.
This year we visited 12 sites to look for spawning fish. We saw fish in three of the five large woody debris (LWD)/habitat projects we visited. We saw fish in four of the seven fish passage projects we completed this season. There were four fish passage projects that were completed this year we did not monitor. Fish presence upstream was already established.
We have installed water temperature loggers at two sites that will be monitored for a minimum of 10 years. We have four loggers in a Squalicum Creek project reach, and three in a Tenmile Creek project reach. Salmon need clean, cold water. Colder water contains more dissolved oxygen (DO). Higher summer water temperatures and low DO can be fatal to salmonids. As the new native vegetation matures, we hope to see summer water temperature in these reaches decreasing over time.
NSEA performs instream habitat assessments to prioritize restoration goals and objectives. These assessments are repeated annually post project for three years to determine if we are meeting those goals and objectives. We measure attributes like pool depth, width and length, and available spawning gravels. Large woody debris, which is crucial for habitat development and diversity, is documented as well as the present of invasive exotic plant species. In 2021, we completed five assessments covering just over 2.5 miles of stream.