Applying FISHPass In the Smith River Watershed

Project Lead:   Ross Taylor and Associates

Location of Project:  Smith River watershed in Del Norte County, California. (41.79558, 124.05775 at South Fork confluence.)

​​Description of Project:  The primary objective of this project is to develop an application of FISHPass Barrier Optimization Tool in the Smith River resulting in a list of priority barriers to remove in the watershed at variable levels of effort. Beyond the primary objective this project will provide the opportunity to learn about FISHPass,  provide additional input data and potentially gain insights on how to improve it. Additional benefits of this project include an assessment of the performance of the FISHPass model, updates to input data (e.g. California Passage Assessment Database (PAD) records) and will potentially identify approaches that could be used to strengthen the model for future applications within the Smith River, and in other drainages in California. Ross Taylor and Associates (RTA) will work closely with the Forum’s FISHPass Working Group and Science & Data Committee. 

​First steps include:

    • Reviewing all the PAD entries for the Smith River and conducting field reconnaissance of locations listed as either “unassessed” or “status unknown” and an identification of areas where barriers are likely to occur that are not yet included in the PAD.
    • A first-pass level of passability would be made at each site during the field reconnaissance to provide scores to enter into FISHPass.
    • Site visits, in coordination with USFWS,  to conduct cursory evaluations of upstream habitat and assist in strengthening assumptions made in using remove sensing techniques of determining habitat suitability.
    • Working with USFWS and PSMFC to use this information to update relevant data inputs in FISHPass and evaluate the results.

      RTA ​proposes that all FISHPass runs are made with two scenarios: 

        1. prioritize sites with current 2019-2020 status of all sites​
        1. prioritize sites with barrier status as if no recent (post-1998) sites were remediated. 

Project partners include U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and other member organizations of the California Fish Passage Forum. Outreach meetings will be used to gather information to support this effort and will be conducted with organizations that own barriers or land where barriers exist.