Annual Snorkel Survey Aims to Monitor Wild Fish Species on the Trinity River

Photo: Shasta Trinity National Forest

The thriving ecosystem of the Trinity River basin plays a vital role in sustaining the populations of wild Summer Steelhead and Spring Chinook salmon. These two fish species, cherished icons of the region, have earned the distinction of being Forest Service Sensitive Species within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

To closely monitor and conserve these species, the annual summer snorkel surveys have become a tradition during the months of July and August. These surveys serve a dual purpose: counting individual fish and analyzing the year-to-year population trends of these sensitive species. The survey’s focus encompasses the four major tributaries of the Trinity River where these fish are known to thrive: the South Fork Trinity River, New River, North Fork Trinity River, and Canyon Creek.

Photo: Shasta Trinity National Forest

This comprehensive initiative spans approximately 145 miles of stream and dates back to 1978. It’s a collaborative endeavor involving local, state, federal, and tribal bodies, demonstrating the shared commitment to preserving the delicate balance of this unique ecosystem. The survey process involves individual teams of snorkelers dedicated to specific sub-reaches along the tributaries, covering distances ranging from 12 to 74 miles.

By meticulously comparing the outcomes of these annual snorkel surveys across the individual tributaries, experts gain invaluable insights into the long-term trajectory of these species. This wealth of historical data showcases the remarkable adaptability of these species, whose populations oscillate in response to the ever-changing environmental conditions.

With the Trinity River basin as their backdrop, these surveys exemplify the unwavering dedication of local communities, state agencies, federal bodies, and tribal entities to the conservation of these cherished fish species. As the natural world continues to evolve, this collaborative effort stands as a beacon of hope for the preservation of Northern California’s precious wildlife heritage.

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