Habitat Monitoring


Salmon Spawner Surveys

In order to understand the status of local salmon populations and the effectiveness of resotration projects, NSEA staff and volunteers conduct annual salmon spawning ground surveys. In 2016, our survey team repeatedly walked 13 reaches of 8 different creeks on restoration sites throughout Whatcom County. Access to these reaches is crucial for telling the story of salmon recovery and is only possible with the support of the private landowners we work with.

To view the total counts of live salmon, carcasses, and redds on all the reaches surveyed in 2016, come pick up one of our  "2016 Salmon Spawning Ground Surveys Summary" brochures at our office, at community restoration work parties, or at outreach events! If you are interested in digging deeper in some data, you can use the links below to explore the history of each creek we survey individually or in our archives.  

Macaulay Creek

Bertrand Creek

Fishtrap Creek

Tinling Creek

Landingstrip Creek

Landingstrip Tributary

Goodwin Tributary

Terrell Creek

In-Stream Habitat Assessments

In-stream Habitat Assessments help NSEA to determine the effectiveness of in-stream restoration projects such as fish passage removal, channel modifications, large woody debris placement, and substrate amendments. information on the sizes of riffle and pool stream units, the amount and classes of large woody debris in each unit, substrate characteristics, and canopy cover is collected. These surveys are done both on creeks yet-to-be restored to gain baseline data while others are on creeks where projects have already taken place.


Vegetation Surveying

Before and after a riparian planting project, our Habitat Monitoring team conducts vegetation surveys. In the 2016-2017 program year, we visited about 50 sites, ranging from very newly planted sites to sites with plants now over a decade old. These surveys allow NSEA to measure plant survival rates over time. In addition, we can gain understanding as to which variables may have caused plant mortalities, such as site characteristics, species planted, or planting amendments.  


Water Quality Monitoring

Since 2007, NSEA has partnered with the City of Ferndale and students from Windward High School to collect water quality samples in the Schell Creek Watershed. This consists of taking fecal coliform and turbidity samples and measuring temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH. We do this at five different sites on residential, commercial, and agricultural land, both in the creek and in an area of marshland that drains into it. Coho salmon, steelhead, and cutthroat trout call Schell Creek’s waters home. Thus, NSEA has also been involved in restoring reaches of the creek and marsh since the 1990’s. While the stream habitat has improved over time, the water quality still poses an issue: the creek was listed by the state as an impaired body of water. The City of Ferndale is charged with the task of fixing this. Part of this involves narrowing down where contaminants such as fecal coliform are entering the creek, which is why the water quality monitoring we do is so important. the data we collected in the 2016-2017 school year below.


Behind the Scenes of habitat Monitoring