Outdoors

Researchers tag fish to track movements in Elwha

Biologists involved in the restoration in the Elwha River have placed radio tags in more than 50 fish so their movements can be tracked.

With Elwha Dam removed and about 30 feet of Glines Canyon Dam remaining, Pacific salmon and other species will soon have access to more than 70 miles of protected habitat within Olympic National Park.

Researchers will use information from the tagged fish to monitor fish populations and assess fish passage at the former dam sites and in the remote, upper canyons of the river, according to a park news release.

In April, biologists from the park, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the radio-tracking project. Information from the project will indicate how far, how fast and where the first salmon recolonizers go after dam removal.

As of July 9, biologists have captured and radio-tagged 23 bull trout, 16 steelhead, 12 chinook salmon and two sockeye salmon.

Each fish was equipped with a radio transmitter with a unique code that differentiates it from other tagged fish. Signals from the tags are detected by a radio receiver.

To monitor the tagged Elwha fish, six telemetry stations were installed between the mouth of the river and just above Glines Canyon Dam. These stations continually scan for and record data. Biologists also are manually tracking the fish between Glines Canyon Dam and the river mouth using handheld radio receivers.

Once Glines Canyon Dam is removed, aerial surveys by a plane outfitted with a wing-mounted antennae will be used to track fish migration upstream of that dam.

To date, eight bull trout and two wild steelhead have moved upstream of the Elwha Dam site, the release said.

RAINIER YOUTH CREWS

A previously announced grant from the National Park Foundation is supporting three teams of youth recruited by the Student Conservation Association to work at Mount Rainier National Park. The participants come from Joint Base Lewis-McChord through the association’s “Base to Base Camp” program and from Seattle.

Mount Rainier was one of 39 national parks to receive a 2014 America’s Best Idea grant from the foundation.

Eight high school students and two crew leaders in each community crew will spend 15 days working on trail maintenance projects throughout the park, repairing trail tread and building bridges at sites like Klapatche Park and on the Wonderland Trail, according to an association news release.

This is the 20th year the association has sent community crews to Mount Rainier, and the third year for the Base to Base Camp program. Eleven students from the base joined 13 students from Seattle on last year’s crews. This year’s crews will be in the park from through Aug. 31.

“These young people play an important part in the protection and care of our national parks, and they also represent the next generation of park stewards,” Superintendent Randy King said in the release.

Many graduates of previous crews have gone on to work as seasonal or career rangers with the National Park Service or other agencies.

“SCA is honored to be the farm team for the National Park Service and other national resource agencies,” Jay Satz, SCA’s regional vice president, said in the release. “SCA’s success in engaging an ever more diverse young constituency with our national parks and public lands is essential for the future of American citizens’ support of the national park ideal.”

Mount Rainier’s community crews are also funded by a grant from the Eleanor and Raymond Wilson Charitable Trust through Washington’s National Park Fund. The fund supports projects at Mount Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades national parks.

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