The second day of the workshop described ongoing and upcoming steelhead monitoring efforts in the Sacramento River and San Joaquin Basin, highlighting some of the successes and challenges encountered, and emphasizing the need for efforts distinct from Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) monitoring programs. Many of these efforts rely heavily on PIT and acoustic tags to track steelhead smolt movement, providing insight into their survival and migratory behavior. While several steelhead monitoring and management efforts exist in the Central Valley, there was general concern expressed during discussions about their “piece-meal” nature, highlighting a major need for better coordination to achieve more consistent, spatially balanced monitoring. Participants agreed that these problems should be addressed by interagency relationships and a consensus-based comprehensive data framework to address uncertainties such as total adult steelhead abundances, population structure, life-history diversity, juvenile survival and movement, and the effects of hatcheries on natural steelhead population success.
The final day of the workshop concluded with an exploration of analytical approaches to measure the impacts of management actions. Because similar initiatives have been undertaken to manage Chinook salmon in the Central Valley, several presentations discussed developing monitoring frameworks and adaptive management plans for this species. Representatives from the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) Science Integration Team highlighted the importance of structured decision-making to evaluate tradeoffs of management alternatives and inform an effective adaptive management process, which could be applied to San Joaquin Basin steelhead populations. Another presentation discussed a six-year telemetry study of juvenile steelhead in the south Delta, and concluded that although telemetry studies are expensive and logistically challenging, they can generate rich datasets that may be used to evaluate the impacts of management actions directed at steelhead recovery. Finally, otolith research was discussed as a means to investigate the origins, movement, and life history of an individual fish.
Following the presentations on each of the three days, participants were divided into breakout groups for facilitated discussion and brainstorming. This process provided useful insights and ideas that will inform the development of a steelhead monitoring framework. Upon conclusion of the workshop, it was evident that participants were motivated to collaborate on efforts to better monitor and manage the steelhead populations of the San Joaquin Basin. Armed with a slew of critical insights, examples of successful methodologies, and potential solutions to common challenges, scientists, managers, and other stakeholders can now get to work to create a comprehensive plan, with the goal to better monitor the steelhead populations in the Central Valley and evaluate the efficacy of specific recovery actions. Fact sheets of background information on the material covered during the steelhead workshop are available on the Delta Stewardship Council events website
, where recordings of the presentations will be made available in the near future.