Crims Island-Restoration and monitoring of juvenile salmon rearing habitat in the Columbia River Estuary, Oregon, 2004-10

Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5022

Prepared in cooperation with the Portland District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers



Under the 2004 Biological Opinion for operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System released by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) were directed to restore more than 4,047 hectares (10,000 acres) of tidal marsh in the Columbia River estuary by 2010. Restoration of Crims Island near Longview, Washington, restored 38.1 hectares of marsh and swamp in the tidal freshwater portion of the lower Columbia River. The goal of the restoration was to improve habitat for juveniles of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmon stocks and ESA-listed Columbian white-tailed deer. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) monitored and evaluated the fisheries and aquatic resources at Crims Island in 2004 prior to restoration (pre-restoration), which began in August 2004, and then post-restoration from 2006 to 2009. This report summarizes pre- and post-restoration monitoring data used by the USGS to evaluate project success. We evaluated project success by examining the interaction between juvenile salmon and a suite of broader ecological measures including sediments, plants, and invertebrates and their response to large-scale habitat alteration. The restoration action at Crims Island from August 2004 to September 2005 was to excavate a 0.6-meter layer of soil and dig channels in the interior of the island to remove reed canary grass and increase habitat area and tidal exchange. The excavation created 34.4 hectares of tidal emergent marsh where none previously existed and 3.7 hectares of intertidal and subtidal channels. Cattle that had grazed the island for more than 50 years were relocated. Soil excavated from the site was deposited in upland areas next to the tidal marsh to establish an upland forest. Excavation deepened and widened an existing T-shaped channel to increase tidal flow to the interior of the island. The western arm of the existing 'T-channel' was extended westward and connected to Bradbury Slough to create a second outlet to the main river. New intertidal channels were constructed from the existing 'T-channel' and tidal mudflats became inundated at high tide to increase rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids. The restoration action resulted in a 95-percent increase in available juvenile salmon rearing habitat. We collected juvenile salmon and other fishes at Crims Island and a nearby reference site using beach seines and fyke nets annually from March through August during all years. Benthic invertebrates were collected with sediment corers and drift invertebrates were collected with neuston nets. Juvenile salmon stomach contents were sampled using lavage. Vegetation and sediments characteristics were surveyed and we conducted a topographic/bathymetric survey using a RTK (real time kinematic) GPS (global positioning system). The fish assemblage at Crims Island, composed primarily of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), non-native banded killifish (Fundulus diaphanus), peamouth chub (Mylocheilus caurinus), subyearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) (hereinafter referred to as subyearlings), and small numbers of juvenile chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta), did not differ appreciably pre- and post-restoration. Subyearlings were the primary salmonid collected and were seasonally abundant from April through May during all years. The abundance of juvenile salmon declined seasonally as water temperature exceeded 20 degrees C in the Reference site by mid-June; however, subyearlings persisted at the Mainstem site and in subtidal channels of the Restoration site through the summer in water temperatures exceeding 22 degrees C. Residence times of subyearlings in Crims Island backwaters generally were short consisting of one or two tidal cycles. Median residence time was longer in the Restoration site than in the Reference site pre- and post-restoration. Small (mean = 55.7 millimeters) subyea

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Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Crims Island-Restoration and monitoring of juvenile salmon rearing habitat in the Columbia River Estuary, Oregon, 2004-10
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
viii, 33 p.; Appendix
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Time Range End:
United States
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