We assessed the physical and biotic conditions in the part of Buck Creek, Washington, potentially accessible to anadromous fishes. This creek is a major tributary to the White Salmon River upstream of Condit Dam, which was breached in October 2011. Habitat and fish populations were characterized in four stream reaches. Reach breaks were based on stream gradient, water withdrawals, and fish barriers. Buck Creek generally was confined, with a single straight channel and low sinuosity. Boulders and cobble were the dominant stream substrate, with limited gravel available for spawning. Large-cobble riffles were 83 percent of the available fish habitat. Pools, comprising 15 percent of the surface area, mostly were formed by bedrock with little instream cover and low complexity. Instream wood averaged 6—10 pieces per 100 meters, 80 percent of which was less than 50 centimeters in diameter. Water temperature in Buck Creek rarely exceeded 16 degrees Celsius and did so for only 1 day at river kilometer (rkm) 3 and 11 days at rkm 0.2 in late July and early August 2009. The maximum temperature recorded was 17.2 degrees Celsius at rkm 0.2 on August 2, 2009. Minimum summer discharge in Buck Creek was 3.3 cubic feet per second downstream of an irrigation diversion (rkm 3.1) and 7.7 cubic feet per second at its confluence with the White Salmon River. Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) was the dominant fish species in all reaches. The abundance of age-1 or older rainbow trout was similar between reaches. However, in 2009 and 2010, the greatest abundance of age-0 rainbow trout (8 fish per meter) was in the most downstream reach. These analyses in Buck Creek are important for understanding the factors that may limit fish abundance and productivity, and they will help identify and prioritize potential restoration actions. The data collected constitute baseline information of pre-dam removal conditions that will allow assessment of changes in fish populations now that Condit Dam has been removed and anadromous fish have an opportunity to recolonize Buck Creek.
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Fish population and habitat analysis in Buck Creek, Washington, prior to recolonization by anadromous salmonids after the removal of Condit Dam