2015 Waters to Watch

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Mat-Su Salmon Habitat Partnership
Alexander Creek Watershed, tributary of the Susitna River, and formerly significant sport fishing area. This system includes 690 acre Alexander Lake, 40 mile long Alexander Creek and tributaries to that system that cover hundreds of square miles in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Approximately 50 air miles northwest of Anchorage, the Alexander Creek Watershed is a remote and slow moving meandering river system with numerous tributaries and shallow lakes and ponds. It has thousands of acres of adjacent wetlands with side-sloughs and oxbow channels

Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership
The Kenai Peninsula Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Project (Project) will help restore physical and biological processes within the Kasilof and Anchor River Watersheds in order to contribute to a healthy, productive and biologically diverse ecosystem for the benefit of injured species and services. This project addresses root causes to ecosystem impacts by eliminating four aquatic organism passage barriers in the Kasilof and Anchor River Watersheds in order to restore healthy ecosystems in these watersheds. This project builds on the long standings interest of multiple state and federal agencies and organizations (e.g. Kenai Watershed Forum, Trout Unlimited) to restore physical and biological processes within these and other watersheds on the Peninsula. This project supports the overarching stated goal of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council (EVOSTC) Restoration Program by providing benefits to injured resources andservices, and helping to sustain healthy, productive ecosystems in order to maintain naturally occurring diversity.

Pacific Marine and Estuarine Partnership
Restore freshwater and tidal connections, provide off-channel rearing habitat for salmonids, and restore historic spruce swamp habitat. A primary limiting factor for salmonids in the Kilchis system is the availability of off-channel habitat in low-lying areas, especially habitat in the saltwater-freshwater transition zone of the estuary (Kilchis Watershed Analysis, Tillamook Estuaries Partnership 1998). The site provides habitat for coho, Chinook and chum salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout as well as a myriad of other wetland species, including colonial nesting waterbirds, migrating waterfowl, juvenile marine fishes and resident mammals. Human alterations of the estuary (e.g., dredging, diking, draining, filling, dairy pasture creation, jetty construction, sedimentation) as well as species loss have resulted in loss of habitats and their associated biotic communities. Current restoration is aimed at increasing protections for existing salmonid core areas, restoring tidal marsh habitat, re-creating tidal channels and restoring connectivity between tidal sloughs and the Kilchis River. Past restoration efforts have occurred above the project site and complement existing restoration efforts.

Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership
For 10-15 years post-impoundment, Lake Livingston was a bass fishing destination with numerous regional and national bass fishing tournaments held on the lake. The fishery was aneconomic engine for the local economy. Sedimentation with its associated turbidity, along with extensive shoreline development have negatively impacted shoreline habitat for littoral fishes.In addition, invasive aquatic plants, hydrilla and giant salvinia have become established and have further impacted littoral fisheries habitat.

Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership
The project goal is to remove invasive species to improve water quality and fish habitat in He’eia Stream Estuary. This project will restore native vegetation in the tidally influenced portion of Heʻeia Stream and its adjacent estuary. Project implementation will involve removal of a large stand of invasive riparian trees, followed by soil preparation, erosion control and riparian forest restoration using native and Polynesian-introduced plant species. Several segments of Heeia Stream and the surrounding ahupuaʻa (watershed) are the focus of synergistic restoration efforts which can serve as a model for community-supported watershed restoration in Hawaii.

Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture
In 2012, the Mid-Atlantic Region, and in particular, West Virginia suffered great loss and damages from the Derecho in June and Super Storm Sandy in October. While these storms did billions of dollars of property and infrastructure damage, they also had profoundly detrimental impacts to streams. Many of West Virginia’s best brook trout streams have been covered densely in down and suspended trees offering no Large Woody Material benefits to fish and severely obstructing stream access for recreation and fishing. Along with suspended fallen trees in narrow valleys are large debris jams and exposed root wads that threaten damaging channel morphology impacts, bank erosion, and increased sedimentation.

California Fish Passage Forum
The purpose of this project is to restore access to the upper reaches of Pinole Creek for the current population of Central California Coast Steelhead by modifying the existing box culverts where Pinole Creek passes under Interstate Highway 80 (I-80). Habitat assessments conducted on Pinole Creek in 2009 indicate sufficient habitat to support anadromous steelhead spawning and rearing if passage issues at the I-80 culvert are remedied. This project will improve access to nearly 7 miles of documented quality steelhead spawning and rearing habitat on the main stem of Pinole Creek.

Desert Fish Habitat Partnership
Shoshone pupfish are one of the most imperiled species in the Death Valley region due to their natural rarity, historic disruption of their habitats, lack of replication of the one remaining population, and genetic effects of small population size. Shoshone Spring and wetlands have been owned by one family for over 50 years. Endemic Shoshone pupfish were considered extinct by 1969, but rediscovered in a ditch near the springs in 1986. A single pond was built and stocked with 75 of these fish, believed to be the last of their kind. The purpose of the project was to construct two new additional habitats, one secluded in a mesquite bosque, and one in a landscaped tourist area. The project secured the existence of Shoshone pupfish in their native range far into the future, and will educate the public about their importance. The project quadrupled the habitat area occupied by endemic Shoshone pupfish, benefiting the entire known population in the one spring, springbrook, and spring supported riparian system where they naturally occur.

Western Native Trout Initiative
Sun Creek originates on the southern slopes of Crater Lake National Park (CLNP) and was historically a tributary to the Wood River in the Upper Klamath Basin. Due to agricultural land use there have been extensive channel alterations over the last century and Sun Creek is no longer connected to the Wood River. A population of federally threatened bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) inhabits Sun Creek and with aggressive management from CLNP, increased in abundance ten-fold in the last two decades. This project will reconnect Sun Creek to the Wood River, creating a migratory corridor for the isolated bull trout population and expanding available habitat for redband trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) already present in the Wood River. To accomplish this objective, a new Sun Creek stream corridor will be established, flow in the new channel will be increased by permanently transferring water instream, and diversions will be screened to prevent fish entrainment in irrigation ditches. This project represents a highly successful collaboration between federal, state, tribal, non-profit, and private entities.

Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership
The primary project objective was to remove the existing pipe and re-create a meandering stream system along with the associated wetland community down to the Hillsborough River. The Hillsborough River flows into Tampa Bay, an EPA priority watershed. In addition, the spring boil area was expanded to its former size by the removal of the concrete wall coupled with excavation of the banks to expand the wetland community, this newly restored wetland area was planted with native wetland vegetation. In spite of these anthropogenic activities, the spring boil area is very healthy with crystal clear waters that support native vegetation including ell grass which is unique to the Hillsborough River (while it is a native species, scientists are unaware of any other ell grass populations within the lower river system). These activities now allow fish to seek refuge in the spring run, provide wetland (estuarine habitat, specifically oligohaline environs) within the urban core of the city, and provide a unique area for the citizens to enjoy, as well as providing educational opportunities.