Some Idaho Spring Redd Counts
by Bill Rudolph
A few redd counts have trickled in from Idaho, and preliminary data shows that plenty of ESA-listed spring chinook made it back to index streams in the state's wilderness areas. Index streams are important because annual redd counts are tallied to gauge the strength of ESA-listed salmon stocks. Over the last few years, the numbers show continuing high productivity, likely related to good ocean conditions.
Government and tribal fish managers recently estimated about 60,000 Snake River wild spring chinook had entered the Columbia River in 2002, but until the redd count data appeared, it was hard to assess the size of the run that made it all the way home.
Bear Valley Creek, for instance, was home to at least 245 salmon redds, the most in the past 14 years and second highest number counted there since 1973. Last year, 172 redds were counted. The brood year for most of last year's return contributed only 105 redds in 1998, but productivity was already on the rise from the dismal lows of the mid-1990s. Ten redds were counted in the stream in 1994 and only nine redds were found there in 1995.
Other index areas showed excellent returns as well; 186 redds were counted in Marsh Creek, while the 1998 brood year produced 90 redds. In 1995, no redds were counted there. In Elk Creek, 377 redds were counted, up from 219 redds last year and 105 redds from brood year 1998. No redds were counted in Elk Creek in 1995. Other hot spots included the Upper Salmon River where 561 redds were counted compared to 357 last year and about 33 redds from brood year 1998. Johnson Creek was home to 184 redds, the highest count since 1973.
The good numbers mean that some creeks are now producing about four recruits for every adult spawner, when just a few years ago they were producing less than one recruit per spawner.
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