Technical Report

Habitat improvement to enhance anadromous fish production [Tex Creek]

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  • The project objectives were to determine the possibility of raising the subterranean water in adequate amounts by installation of an underground weir; to determine what type of structure would be most feasible; and to formulate a biological evaluation program if the first two objectives were accomplished. Tex Creek, tributary to Murderers Creek which flows into the South Fork John Day River, was chosen as the study stream because of its history of steelhead use and loss of young due to intermittent flow in slimmer months. The Tex Creek study was designed to test subterranean structures that might raise and direct subsurface water into the stream channel to prevent intermittent summer flow. Prior observations indicated that summer steelhead migrants were stranded when the stream dried. The number of small fish lost to drying of the streambed is often equal to the number of spring outmigrants. Summer steelhead fry emerge during the first of July, approximately 50 days prior to the test stream becoming intermittent. The all-plastic structures which extended across the valley floor were effective in raising subsurface water, while the shorter barriers located across the stream channel only were not. To maintain a flow through the intermittent areas, it would be necessary to have subterranean structures traversing the valley floor for each 75 to 100 yards of stream length. A trap was operated at the mouth of the stream to record upstream and downstream migrant fish. Observations indicated that the majority of adult steelhead arrive in Tex Creek during May. The sex of the adult fish in the run was equal each year of the study; however, they did not arrive in pairs. Each female spent an average of seven days in the stream and dug an average of two redds.
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